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Cartography / mapping / web design resources

Over the years, I have been collecting a list of my go-to resources for cartography and web design, including everything from selecting colors to finding data to helpful tutorials (though this list is by no means comprehensive). Feel free to submit a pull request or email me at if you have suggestions of resources to add to this list or notice that something is outdated.

Table of Contents

General mapping stuff

Web mapping

  • CartoDB: Create web maps easily. Especially useful for large datasets.
  • D3.js: A JavaScript library to create powerful online visualizations. Often used for web mapping.
  • Leaflet: JavaScript library for making mobile-friendly, interactive web maps.
  • TurfJS: GIS for web maps
  • DropChop: In-browser application to perform basic GIS operations
  • awesome-spatial: Links to various (awesome) GitHub repos that have some sort of spatial/geo/web mapping use
  • Leaflet providers: Previews free map tiles that you can use on your Leaflet map, with instructions on how to include it in your code.
  • StoryMapJS: Free tool to help you tell stories on the web that highlight the locations of a series of events.

Basemaps and Vector Tiles



  • ColorBrewer: Cartographer's go-to resource for selecting colors for thematic maps, especially choropleth maps. Can filter based on whether color scheme is optimized for printing, colorblindness, etc.
  • 0to255: One of my favorite color resources. Pick a color, and 0to255 will show you every shade of that color.
  • Adobe Color: Create your own color scheme, up to 5 colors. Explore others' color schemes.
  • Paletton: Create your own color scheme.
  • HEX to RGB Converter: Convert between HEX and RGB color values. Super simple interface.
  • Selecting equidistant perceived colors: Great blog post and tool(s) to select colors that are evenly spaced, especially good for choropleth maps
  • i want hue: Generate palettes of optimally distinct colors. This is great for making sure colors will look different enough on a map to distinguish colors.
  • D3 Curvy: Design your own color scheme for choropleth maps based on ColorBrewer.
  • ColorHexa: Enter in a color value and get pretty much any information you would ever want about the color, including shades, tints, and tones of that color, as well as suggested color schemes that include that color. Also includes a color gradient generator, where you can type in the values of two colors and it will generate a gradient between those colors.
  • PaletteFX: Create a color scheme from an image that you upload.
  • Color Ramp Creator: Create color schemes of 4, 8, or 16 colors. Fun to play with.
  • Color Calculator: Choose an initial color, select the type of color scheme you're looking for, and get some ideas.
  • ColorClaim: A color picking site by Tobias van Schneider to help with picking color schemes. "All I do is collect my favorite color combinations on one big page. Usually these combinations are very subtle, one main and one accent color.";
  • siimple colors: an elegant and minimalistic color palette. It provides a set of colors optimized to be used in UI projects.


  • DaFont: Free, downloadable fonts.
  • FontSquirrel: Free, downloadable fonts.
  • Google Fonts: Free fonts that can be used for webpages.
  • TypeKit: Download fonts specifically for using with Adobe's software suite
  • TypeBrewer: Looks at different attributes of selecting typography for maps.
  • 8 typography tips: General typography tips from Adobe
  • Flipping Typical: Allows you to see and test out all of the fonts installed on your computer by typing in a specific phrase and showing you what it looks like in the various fonts
  • Top 30 free open-source web fonts: Great collection of free fonts for download/web use


  • QGIS: Open-source desktop GIS software. Can do most of what ArcMap can do, for free. Often it does it much, much faster.
  • Mapbox: Use Mapbox online to design basemaps; Mapbox Studio is desktop software for designing map tiles that can be uploaded and hosted on Mapbox. Check out their Getting Started Guides or Help section for more information.
  • Indiemapper: Make thematic maps online. Bring in your own or use provided data.
  • Map Stack by Stamen: Create quick map snapshots of anywhere, with the ability to customize colors and which labels/lines to include.
  • HUGEpic: Create a slippy map from an image. This can be used when you want to be able to pan and zoom on a static map.
  • Kosmtik: Open-source MBTiles software.
  • Pyramid Shader: An application for visualizing terrain data
  • OpenMapTiles: Set of open-source tools for self-hosting of OpenStreetMap maps in more than 50 languages. It provides both raster as well as vector tiles, WMS and WMTS services for GIS programs, support for JavaScript viewers and mobile SDK.
  • Make your own custom map.


  • Census Factfinder: Download Census demographic data
  • U.S. Government data
  • Diva-GIS: Basic datasets for many countries around the world. Administrative boundaries datasets may be more detailed than Natural Earth.
  • EarthWorks: Compilation of free GIS data from various universities; run by Stanford Libraries
  • Free GIS Data: A list of over 300 FREE data sources from around the world! Woo hoo!
  • GADM. Includes countries as well as lower level administrative boundaries.
  • GIS Data Repositories: Google Doc compilation of free, downloadable datasets that may be useful in humanitarian response (and many other scenarios). Compiled by Karen Payne of the University of Georgia's Information Technologies Outreach services.
  • Libra: A browser for open Landsat 8 imagery.
  • Natural Earth: Public domain datasets available for the world. Includes political and physical features at various scales. You can easily get Natural Earth datasets as GeoJSONs from
  • OpenStreetMap Data Extracts: Download the latest data from OpenStreetMap, by continent/country.
  • Overpass Turbo: Make queries for specific downloads from OpenStreetMap (for example, if you just want a certain type of road in a certain area, but not every type of data in that area).
  • Viewfinder Panoramas: Best publicly-available DEMs, according to Daniel Huffman
  • World Bank Data: Free and open access to development data
  • U.S. Cartographic Boundary Shapefiles: These are what you should use if you want to show coastline on your map. If you download the regular TIGER shapefiles from the U.S. Census, they'll give you the technical boundaries but will look weird because boundaries for counties/states extend into the ocean.
  • World Population data: 100m resolution raster population for many parts of the world
  • 30 data sources: Data tips from FlowingData. See also, this.
  • OpenStreetMap administrative boundaries: Free administrative boundary downloads from OpenStreetMap data, provided by Mapzen and updated monthly
  • College Scorecard: U.S. government data on colleges
  • CAIT Climate Data: One of the most trusted sources of climate data, from the World Resources Institute. Includes historical data, visualizations, and data downloads.
  • U.S. Census of Agriculture: Leading source of information on agriculture in the U.S.
  • U.S. Department of Transportation: Download data on everything to do with transportation in the U.S.: airports, various road networks, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers waterways, national bridge inventory, fatality analysis from drunk driving crashes, etc.
  • U.S. Hydropower datasets: Various datasets from the National Hydropower Asset Assessment Program on hydropower in the U.S.
  • Elevation data: From Paolo Raposo's 2015 NACIS talk: USGS National Map, Earth Explorer, GDEM
  • National Historic GIS: Free census data and historic boundary files for the U.S. since 1790
  • Open Terrain Data: A list of where to get worldwide open terrain data.
  • Open Geoportal: A “collaboratively developed, open source, federated web application to rapidly discover, preview, and retrieve geospatial data from multiple repositories”
  • Download elevation data: Awesome/easy interface to download 30-m resolution elevation data
  • GLOVIS: Can be used to download U.S. government satellite imagery. Beware: requires Java in your browser. It's not a great interface, but possible to get lots of data, including historic imagery.
  • OECD: Data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; not necessarily in readily available geographic format, but lots of data by member countries.
  • U.S. Homeland Security data: A portal of a wide variety of datasets, including everything from agriculture to education to energy to law enforcement to transportation and more.
  • Gapminder: Database of world demographic and economic data.
  • OpenAQ: The most comprehensive compilation of datasets I've seen on air quality around the world. Can access data either through download or API.
  • Top 10 data sources for international development: According to The Guardian
  • A Plethora of Data Set Repositories: 19 'sets of data sets' cover free or public data from various industries.
  • Lifemapper: Uses all of the online geospatial species occurrence data to create distribution maps
  • Biodiversitymapper: Data of worldwide biodiversity.
  • eBird: Bird observation data
  • 10 Free GIS Data Sources: Best Global Raster and Vector Datasets (2017)
  • Free Spatial Data from DIVA-GIS
  • WorldClim Version2
  • GADM database of Global Administrative Areas

Textures / Patterns


  • Placeholder: API for querying images of various sizes with custom text and colors. Good for mockups of layout


  • Hero Icons
  • Nounproject: Creative Commons license icons. Can either pay to use them without attribution, or give attribution to the creator.
  • Maki: Open-source icons developed by Mapbox for cartographic uses.
  • Font Awesome: Scalable vector icons specifically designed for web use.
  • Ionicons: Icon font.
  • Flaticon: Free vector icons grouped in packs.
  • Map Icons: Free map icons.



Tutorials / Guides / Forums


  • Mapping blogs, woo! Publicly editable list of blogs about "maps, cartographic design, mapping technology, and a few related subjects that may include maps."; Initially created by Andy Woodruff.

Conversion tools

  • Convert to/from GeoJSON. Prep your data for making web maps. I've found it particularly useful for converting to/from CSVs.
  • ToGeoJSON: Convert from KML to GeoJSON.
  • csv2geojson: Convert from CSV to GeoJSON.
  • leaflet-omnivore: Parses different file format to add to Leaflet map.
  • ai2html: Converts from Adobe Illustrator document to HTML
  • prj2epsg: Converts a .prj projection file to EPSG number
  • The Distillery: Convert files to TopoJSON.
  • Ogre: Convert to/from GeoJSON/shapefile.
  • ogr2ogr: Great blog post on using ogr2ogr to convert to GeoJSON.



Somewhat comprehensive list of cartography / map / web design resources






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