Whether you explore maps through the Google Earth application or through a browser, you can definitely fly around, visit streets and see amazing photos taken in the neighborhood that you are visiting. If you are lucky, the place that you are researching will have a panoramic tour of its interior space. The street view images provided in the maps can sometimes be outdated. For this reason, it is recommended that you visit websites of the restaurants or commercial establishments that are highlighted in the map. You will find that the satellite views and Google Earth will give you a sense of neighborhood or city which will help you to envision the overall look of the map that you would want to create.
Recently, Google has just released the Google Maps Engine which allows the user to customize their maps further like the ability to draw lines in order to create a virtual walking tour. If you are looking for 3D aerial views of structures then you can opt for Bing which definitely has a nice bird’s eye view that which can supplement your research. While Bing and Google can provide you with 3D vistas which allows you to travel virtually to the city that you want to illustrate, you will also need a street map in order to compose the illustration. To accomplish this, you can visit OpenStreetMap.org. This website is like the Wiki for world maps. The Open Street Map will describe the service as “free geographic data.” Maps contain reliable and factual information; however, most of these online map services have copyright on their maps. The license requirement on Open Street map will allow users for the artistic use of the information provided in their website under certain conditions and requirements.
It is advised that you take screen shots occasionally and then keep these as reference images in your job folder. You can make use of Illustrator and create documents with the page size of the magazine. Then you can take reference provided by clients as well as the screenshots of the Open Street Map view and then place them in the document. Keeping these things in mind, you can definitely nail making your illustrated map.