Mapme offers a wide range of basemap styles (map backgrounds), but we are seeing more and more customers taking it a step further and choosing to use personalized images for their map backgrounds. To convert an image, whether it’s a photo or an illustration, into a basemap, we use georeferencing. This involves accurately placing the image in its true geographic location. The image can be used on its own or blended with the surrounding area in the map. The two most common types of personalized images are:

  • Illustrations
  • Drone (aerial) images

We will discuss the pros and cons of each and provide recommendations for when to use one or the other.

Drone images

Drone images are popular because they provide high-quality and detailed views of an area. Check this example of a campus map with drone images.


  • Allows you to focus on the specific area you want to display on the map.
  • Gives a very detailed view of the area, almost like a real-life experience.
  • Provides up-to-date and accurate information, including new buildings and roads.


  • Requires specialized equipment.
  • May require a long wait time for the perfect shooting day.
  • Has limited visual and artistic appeal.

Cost of drone photography

The cost of drone photography has decreased significantly in recent years. The average price for professional drone photography ranges from $300 to $500 per hour.

Best Practices

We highly recommend taking drone photographs from a top-down perspective with as little angle as possible. The image resolution should be at least 140 ppi or 4K. If you are photographing a large area, use image stitching to create a seamless, high-resolution image.

For best results, take drone images on a sunny day when the sun is high to minimize shadows.

Recommend use cases

We recommend using drone images when you want your map to provide a detailed and realistic view of a small area. This is particularly useful when the map user will be on-site and using the map to navigate. Check these examples:


Illustrations are popular because designers can create stylized images using colors, designs, and symbols to provide a clear visual representation of an area. Check this example of a beautiful illustration map.


  • Enables you to emphasize specific features or details that may not be clearly visible in drone images.
  • Adds an artistic and aesthetic dimension to the basemap.
  • Allows you to create and update the illustration at any time.
  • Incorporates branding elements, such as colors, to reinforce your brand identity.
  • May be easier and more intuitive to understand compared to drone images.


  • Illustrations are often stylized and simplified, so they may not accurately reflect the layout of a location.
  • It might not be possible to navigate the area using the map.
  • Georeferencing might not be accurate because the drawings might be to scale.

Cost of Illustration Creation

The cost of creating a high-quality basemap illustration can vary widely, but the average price is between $300 and $500.

Best Practices

We recommend creating illustrations in a vector-based format so that they can be scaled up to at least 4K resolution without losing quality.

Recommended Use Cases

We recommend using illustrations when the primary goal of your map is not navigation. Examples include:

In the end, both illustrations and aerial images can be used to create excellent maps. The final decision should be based on personal preference and taste.