I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this before, but G has a thing for maps. He has some serious map love going on. Though his usually preference is antique or vintage maps, to be fair.
For the last few months, I’ve been seeing these map prints with hearts “marking the spot,” so to speak, for various events: where a couple met, where they got engaged, where they live, etc. And I think they’re really cute. I have seven or eight of them pinned to my various Pinterest boards. But I couldn’t shake the idea that they would be easy to make if only had the maps at my fingertips.
Then, the other day, I found this map customizing tool brought to you by the friendly folks over at Google: http://gmaps-samples-v3.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/styledmaps/wizard/index.html
Since I still can’t be up and about too much, I spent quite a bit of time with this new toy. So I made a little Map Love of my own.
For instance, this is where G and I met nearly 9 years ago.
(About five minutes after meeting, we and 5 other people piled into a car that should have only seated 4. We all got friendly pretty quickly.)
And this is, of course, where we live now.
Want to make your own? It’s really easy to customize the maps with the Styled Map Wizard.
Click here to open in your browser. When it first opens, there will be a white box with general instructions laid on top of the map.
I’ll give you a quick breakdown of how things work, though.
Here are the basics of what the tools in the control panel on the left do.
Not included above:
Invert Brightness basically turns your background black and your roads become different colors. I didn’t find much use for it.
And then, of course, there’s the usual Saturation and Lightness.
The Lightness slider: controls the light/dark of your map
-moving the slider to the right (into positive numbers) will make your map lighter and lighter until it goes white.
-moving the slider to the left (into negative numbers) will make your map darker and darker until it goes black.
The Saturation slider: controls the color intensity of your map
-moving the slider to the right (into positive numbers) will make the colors of your map richer and darker
-moving the slider to the right (into negative numbers) will make the colors of your map lighter and fainter
Note: In programs like Photoshop, Saturation and Lightness are two completely different controls and have very different affects on your image. Here, they have the same affect on images, but the sliders work opposite of each other. So that might be a bit confusing at first.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you want to turn off the hospital on the map because you just don’t like the red splotch in the middle of your map.
Under Feature type select Points of Interest, and then Medical. Click the box next to Visibility and then click the circle next to “Off.”
But let’s say you didn’t want to get rid of the whole feature. You like the little symbols on the map, but you don’t like the wording mucking up your image. Easy.
Keep your eye on the parks.
In the Feature Type section go to Points of Interest again, and select Parks. Then move down to the Element Type section just below. Select Labels and then Text. Click the box next to Visibility and then click the circle next to off.
No more text!
Just one other weirdness in this tool. Like with Lightness and Saturation, the difference between Color and Hue on the map isn’t much.
When you have one feature selected (for example the water), both just change the color of the feature, though the Hue version looks a little more transparent or like the color was mixed with white.
Using the Color tool:
Using the Hue tool:
The only real difference is when you have ALL the features selected.
Color just comes out as an opaque block of color. No map left.
Whereas Hue puts a slightly transparent color over the entire image.
I think that’s about it. Play around with it! It’s really fun.
Each time you make a change, you’ll need to head over to the “Map Style” menu on the right side of your screen and click the “Add” button. This saves your previous change.
To get rid of something you’ve saved, just click the trash can in the upper-right of that “style” box.
I’d love to see your maps when you’re done!