I'm currently making fictional city for my novel project, and I need a tool for making city map. I tried Adobe Illustrator, but it'll be quite hard labeling each streets, parks, buildings etc. I saw people recommend using QGIS for something like that, but they don't give any tutorial on how to. I am totally new at GIS, and I'm currently have no idea on where to start. What kind of tutorial that should I follow first?

  • 1
    Welcome to GIS StackExchange. Take a look to the official QGIS training course : docs.qgis.org/3.4/en/docs/training_manual. I advise you, before start, to learn about GIS concepts (coordinates systems, features (points, lines, polygons), symbology, etc.). Sep 16, 2019 at 15:11
  • See sidebar: reddit.com/r/mapmaking Sep 16, 2019 at 15:22
  • Have you checked Worldbuilding too?
    – mkennedy
    Sep 16, 2019 at 18:37
  • @mkennedy Yes, but I haven't found any useful tutorial tho Sep 17, 2019 at 9:08
  • why not use a real city, far away (or obscure) city, and just slap a new name on it... nobody will know the difference (or, it could be considered a secret 'easter egg' if anyone figures it out!)
    – ashleedawg
    Sep 17, 2019 at 9:27

2 Answers 2


Yeah I agree with J.R's answer, QGIS is certainly an option and I might even go that route since I'm already familiar with it, but for someone who hasn't use it much I'd probably suggest something like Visio or another program that's more based on drawing than on displaying georeferenced data.

However, if you're map is going to be very complex and you want different scales etc. (think like LOTR map series) then using GIS is likely worth it. I found QGIS to be pretty intuitive to learn on the fly, but if you're creating you're own data you'll definitely want to check out the available digitizing (read drawing) plugins. I think Qdraw is a pretty good one for quickly getting your ideas mapped out.

A list of QGIS plugins can be found here http://plugins.qgis.org/plugins/

As far as tutorials, I'd start by looking for videos and articles focused on "digitizing" and "symbology" since those will probably be the most relevant to help you with creating and displaying your maps.


GIS software (including QGIS) are good for making city map but that mostly true for ''real'' city map because you can grab some existing data and ''just'' display those data the way that please you (choosing color, fill, line thickness, etc.) and label the thing you want labeled easily.

For fictional map you don't have existing data so using GIS for creating those map are probably not the easiest/quickest way to go. First you need to digitize your data in different layer (you have at least to separate point, line and surface) then you need to add all relevant information for each object (the name if you want to label them, category if you want to style them differently). when it's done you need to style and label your data. And lastly if you want a really good looking map you'll have to use a vector graphic software to do some touch-up (this last part is not required as you could get some great looking map without that but you still will need to manually replace some/most of the label as no labeling engine are able to provide a totally satisfying output on their own when there are a high density of label)

So unless you need to go the GIS way (for exemple if you want to create a zoomable/searchable webmap) I wouldn't advise to use GIS. If you already know how to use graphical software like Illustrator it will probably be faster/easier to use that.

  • Yes, I want to make my map zoomable just like google maps / opensteetmap. I don't really want make my map look like fantasy styled or something like that, just simple street map. But just curious, is there any alternatives for something like what I want? That maybe easier to do. Thanks for your answer tho. Sep 16, 2019 at 15:57

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