A while back I did at tutorial for Creative Cow called Shape Layer Tip #3: Trim Paths. In that tutorial I did an old-school map animation using shape layers to create the animated red line. Recently I was asked to share how the map itself was created.
The short version is that I read a great tutorial I found at PSDtuts+ called Creating an Old World Map, and then I adapted it for AE, so that the effects stayed live (in other words so that they could be changed or rearranged at any time). I used shape layers, fractal noise, and mattes and other fun stuff to get a similar look.
One of the things I love about After Effects vs. Photoshop is that effects are not permanent in AE. Open an AEP tomorrow, and you can change effect settings. Not so with Photoshop. Hit save and close it… and that’s it. All past work is now solidified.
To be fair, the amount of RAM Photoshop would need to do this would be astronomical, given the size of print images. Video frames are small comparatively. Nevertheless I almost always create artwork in AE when it’s for broadcast or the web because I like to be able to go back and make changes.
Anyway, here’s the project file for you to take apart and use in your own work. Hope it helps you.