DIY Watercolor World Map Artwork

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On a rainy weekend a few weeks ago I got the wild idea stuck in my head that I wanted to watercolor a piece of art, namely a watercolor world map, for my new office at work.

How to watercolor a world map

We just upgraded to a much larger building and the bare walls in my office were screaming for attention.  Keep in mind, I have never really done any watercolor art, unless you count playing around with those little sets as a kid.  So, this was going to either be a triumph over a new craft, or I would end up angrily breaking things while I throw a temper tantrum over it not working like I think it should. But only time would tell so after a quick trip to Joann’s I was ready to give it a go and try to watercolor a world map.

learning how to watercolor

Being new to the art, I have to get the proper supplies.

Grand total cost for this project= $15.48

I also grabbed a pad of water color paper to play around on first, but not as part of the project so I am not including it in the cost.  Add in 2 mugs of warm water, and it is time to get started.

learning how to watercolor paint

Before getting started with the painting, I needed to draw the world map outline.  I hopped on Google and found an image of the world that was nice and clean and perfect for this job.  Taking that image I scaled it up to be the right size for my paper (20×30) and printed it out over multiple pieces of paper.  I then taped them together to create one large template and laid that over my water color paper.  Using a pen and a heavy hand, I traced the entire world…yes the entire world, leaving a nice indent on the watercolor paper to follow.

watercolor world map art piece

After removing the template, I got a pencil and drew lines along the indentations.  Now I  had the basis of the world map to color in with water colors.

creating a watercolor world map

Step one for in me watercolor was to learn the process.  I did this on a small piece of paper until I thought I had the idea down and then moved on the the traced map.  The process I found to work best to achieve my desired look was to take my brush and apply a thin coating of water to one section of the map at a time.  Once the water was on I could choose my first color to paint.  I liked to start on the edge of one of the land masses and move across, blending the colors as I switched from one to another.  By painting each area with water first it helped the color to spread nicely but stay contained within the water lines.

watercolor painting a world map

I went wild with all colors, but you could keep it simple and just do a couple tones of blues and greens for a more subdued look. For some of the smaller areas, like the islands, I went ahead and just dabbed the color on without adding water first.  Don’t be afraid of using the water either though.  If it starts to get too wet, you can grab a paper towel to absorb excess and then start over.  Do be careful to not over blend though, the changes between the colors need to look natural but not muddied.

watercolor world map art

The project took about 4 hours from start to finish, so not too bad for an afternoon craft.  The longest part was tracing the map onto the paper to have lines to follow.  I might be artistic, but I am definitely not good enough to think I can free hand the world.

watercolor world map

As the map dried, the color calmed a little bit and got a chalky finish.  This might just be the type of watercolors I was using, but either way I really liked the final outcome.

How to watercolor a world map painting

I can’t take all the credit for this beautiful idea though.  It came to me one day while browsing Pinterest and I pinned a few variations on my DIY board.  There are even a few artists on Etsy who sell hand-painted and/or images of watercolor world maps.  But, as usual I wanted to test myself and see if I could do it first before settling on buying one.  I love supporting other artisans, but there is also a great deal of satisfaction in doing it with your own two hands.  Now the shame part….the map then sat in my craft room next to the frame for two weeks before I finally got around to framing it and I still need to bring it to my office and hang it. Maybe next week?

framed watercolor world map art

Speaking of watercolor, today marks the start of the Pretty Waterlogue April Challenge.  Follow me on Instagram @justtwocraftysisters and join in on the fun!

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9 thoughts on “DIY Watercolor World Map Artwork

  1. Hello! I really like what you’ve done! I am going to redo my room and i need a new decoration, I was wondering it is ok and possible for you to scan and send me the map so I can putt it on my wall? I understand if you don’t want to but at least I’ve tried!

    • The best advice I have it to be careful to not overwork it. Let the colors touch and naturally blend a little, but be careful not to overwork buy brushing the colors over and over. With water color, the colors will flow naturally depending on the amount of water you have on the paper. I recommend playing around with the colors and amounts of water before tackling a big project. I did a small version of California first to practice the techniques, and I messed up a few times while figuring it out.

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