How to Draw a World Map

Step by step
How to Draw a World Map

It's one of the most common images, but can also be one of the most difficult to make:  A world map. World maps go great with a lot of things, from making a pirate's map for a child's room to making a piece of artwork that any explorer would love to have. However, they can also be intricate and difficult to produce. When learning how to draw a world map, you're going to need a bit of time… and patience. But, in the end, the product is worth it!

Start With the Map's Outline

world map

You don't want to just draw your map with the paper's edge as your only barrier. That's a good way to ensure that your map appears cramped and incomplete. Instead, you should add an outline of where your map will be. For simpler maps, straight edges work fine; this is a good choice for beginners who don't want to put too much work into it yet. For those with more experience, maybe tried frayed and torn edges, giving it a weathered look.

Next, Outline the Continents

world continent

You don't want to get too detailed here. Just draw the rough outline of the continents, and perhaps a few of the larger islands. Don't worry about the missing parts; just a rough approximation will do. The shapes should be mostly rounded, though a few points and harsh lines are alright here. The main point of this is to simply have a basic idea where the continents are going to go in the following steps.

Provide More Detail

world map detail

Now it's time for detail! Using the rough outlines of the continents from above, as well as a real map, so that you can double check your work, you'll begin providing more detail here. This is where you add in the sharp coastal details, as well as the borders that you want to include between the continents. Keep checking the real map, so that you're sure that you're doing right. And don't be afraid to make mistakes; you're probably going to here!

Add the Cardinal Directions

world map drawing

What good is as map if you don't know which way is north? And, even if it might be obvious for you, giving your map some cardinal directions is a way to make it seem more legitimate, even if it's just a rough first try. Draw the compass as ornately as you wish; it can be anywhere from a simple arrow pointing upwards towards an N, or an ornate compass labeling all four directions.

Color and Shade

world map color

Your map is now mostly finished. In fact, if you just wanted something fairly rough and flat, then you can stop now. But, if you really want to breathe some life into this world map, it's best to provide some coloring and shading. Perhaps color it to look like faded parchment. Or you could shade it, to give it a three-dimensional effect. If your map has frayed or scrolled edges, provide the shading to make them look real. Then, your map is done!

Creating a world map is a fun way to really hone your artistic talent. With a little time, effort, and patience, you'll be producing lifelike maps in no time at all!

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