There’s some fantastic examples of flat style map designs out there on the web that depict a city or country with ultra simplified illustrations with basic shapes and flat colours. I really fancied giving the style a try myself, so I thought ‘why not make a tutorial to share my process with others?!’. Follow along with today’s guide to learn how to build a creative vector illustration of a landscape with trees, roads, mountains and towns using a range of tools in Adobe Illustrator. Working in the flat design style involves simplifying an object to its most basic form, so Illustrator’s various vector shape building tools are ideal for crafting your illustrations.

How To Create a Flat Style Vector Map in Adobe Illustrator

The artwork I’ll be producing in this tutorial includes a range of objects and landmarks that are all depicted by basic shapes while still being recognisable. The key to creating designs in the flat style is figuring out how you can illustrate something using just circles, rectangles and smooth lines. Choose just one or two colours for each object’s fill, without any shading or gradients to achieve the cartoon-like appearance.

Open Adobe Illustrator and create a new document. I’m using dimensions of 1000x1000px with the RGB colour mode.

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  1. Great tutorial Chris, ridiculously timely. On the white dotted line part though, it should be paste in front, not back. Might confuse some people trying it out. Cheers!

  2. Nice tutorial. One note: there is no need for duplicating the grey road for making the white center line. After making the first grey stroke of 90pt wide, you can add the white center line to the same stoke using the Appearance panel: just ADD a new line to the existing line and make it white dashed and 2 pt wide. You could add yet a third line if you wanted to. Of course this is no longer possible after you expand the lines to objects.
    Enjoying your tutorials, keep up the good work!

    • Great tip! I always forget about using the Appearance panel for adding multiple strokes and end up doing it the long way with offset path or duplicate shapes.

  3. Loved this tutorial! I was wondering why you didn’t use 3D effects for the houses in the mini-town. I followed your instructions, and I couldn’t get the perspective to look just “right.” It didn’t look correct in your picture either, but I was able to find how to create 3D objects online. Do you think you’ll be producing a tutorial on those effects anytime?

  4. Thanks much for a great tutorial. Some of us have an easier time learning step by step. Videos are often too fast and really not clear enough and it gets cumbersome having to backtrack so much.

  5. Got some points.. such as Effect > Stylize > Round Corners Effect > Distort & Transform > Zig Zag , Shape Builder tool . Amazing use of them! Thanks Chris!

  6. This is certainly cool! I am going to have to give Illustrator a go! Maybe this tut will get me off to a good start!
    Thank you!

  7. let me just say you’re amazing for making this look so easy. Thanks for this tutorial. I think I just found my new project.

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