Introduction: A Treasure Map

About: I just finished a graduate program in Instructional Design and Educational Technology: creating online learning. I've been using this site to test out my hopefully improving abilities.

I like making stuff for kids and came up with a fairly easy treasure map. It can take a long time but overall the project is easy. I want projects to be big and have a lot of little details, the kind that can take years to discover and maybe a little disturbing. 

For this instructable you will need:

Paper: I buy rolls of 70lb art paper from Utrecht. Roll out a bit over 2 feet and cut. You can do as small as a sheet of 8.5"x11" if you want but this is the best size because you will need lots of space for your images. The edges of the map will be uneven and torn in the end but we aren't on that step yet so don't worry about it.

Scissors: to cut the paper from the roll.

Acrylic Paints: art tubes or craft bottles it doesn't matter. When painting the finer details you do want it to be heavier though so a mix of both is what I used. 

Permanent Markers: I used sharpie brand but anything permanent, both fine and thick tipped If you aren't sure if they are permanent test by writing with one and then spray with water and see if it runs.

Spray bottle full of water

An Iron: 
(optional really but I recommend using one).

A Copy Shop That Laminates

Dry Erase Markers

**I will be updating with more information when I get questions and feedback and user testing **

Step 1: Paper!

Spray the paper with water, just enough to mist over the whole thing and give it a minute to get all up in the fibers. Yeah son, like that. Take the paper and crumple it into a ball. Be careful not to rip because it's now damp and easier to accidentally do that.

While still wet you have to now flatten the ball. Take your time and do this carefully. If you rip you will have to decide if it the hole or tear will be a part of the map.

Mistakes are always ok. If you keep going with them you have more options in deciding if they fit in with the map.

Step 2: Aging the Paper

I used to boil it in tea water but it would disintegrate the paper too much and I'd have to throw away about half the sheets. Not this time though. I used acrylic paint.

Burnt umber and some metallic copper and very watery. You can experiment with more colors and see what looks good, light blue does not however, what with parts of the map being that exact same color. The paint is heavier in the wrinkles and that's good. When we paint the water and land the darker lines will show through and make it look old. 

Painty paint!

Now let it dry. I misted the back and ironed it on high heat to make it even more flat. Don't worry about the iron getting out those wrinkles, you did too good of a job making them. 


The advanced step: If you would like darker wrinkles crumple it into a ball again and let dry, mist with water and carefully open up and flatten. As you can see in the image I did not want to make it too small because of how much work it would be to flatten, again. 

Step 3: Making the Land, Rivers, Lakes, Etc.

Now pull out your  permanent black marker and draw with nice heavy lines that are not in any way water soluble and yes I've made that mistake in the past, feel free to surrogate learn from it. With it iron-flattened, which you really should do, it's time to add the land and water features. I used the contours of the wrinkles for pretty much all of this. Remember:  more is more! I searched online for coloring book images for some of the features and it helps give you an idea of what you want.

Land/Water: I like to make nothing but islands, then connect them into giant land masses. Do whatever you want. In each I added lakes and river lines that meander eventually hit the ocean. There are lines around some of the islands to indicate waves. 

Mountains: an upside down V with a zig-zag across near the top for the snow cap. Everywhere has a mountain! The follow each other or are completely separate from others. 

Boats: a triangle sail and a partial rectangle. Vary your sails and shapes, that's all they really are - connected shapes. Some boats are parked (I'm sure there's a better word for that) and their sails are down. No triangle.

Beasties: I do a sea monster and an octopus. Nessie is part in and out of the water, the octopus is in but looking like out. 

Castles and towns/homes/lighthouses: I used a fine tipped permanent marker for these, for they are delicate. The castle is another rectangle with a tower on each side. The towns are clumps of homes, a triangle on top of a square. Remember! Some people are hermits, move them far from civilization. They don't need that pressure. 

Anchors and Treasure: I think the anchors are shipwrecks but really I thought they looked good all over. The treasures are skull shaped caves, there needs to be lots of both in case the pirate gets lost and needs a plan b.

Other: Palm trees, people, etc. I painted those on and didn't use the markers unless I needed more definition. It's good to plan for that here and now but I like to see what I feel like as I go along with this. Because this is a map I wanted extra cracks in it all over the place. Obvious danger where maybe it's the map or maybe the water itself. 

Step 4: Painting!!!

You have to plan ahead for the a lot of the images, you don't want to paint over the octopus with water and then have to find the octopus again. Too much paint ruins the effect of the burnt umber peeking through in the wrinkles. 

But now you paint. I like the classic old map colors, blue water, green land, purple mountains -but really it's up to you. Experiment. Just keep in mind you want the blue water to look different from the blue you use for anything else. 

Start with the beaches and the deserts. They are everywhere really and if you do them last you may have to paint over green too much and it might not look as good. Find your sand color/s and keep it watery. 

Land!: It's green because this is the pirate days and land wasn't so over-industrialized. The darker green blotches will be farmland, people need to eat. 

Mountains: purple and white, go for the classic. 

Boats: brown with white sails.

Beasties: a green sea monster, different than the green of the land, and a pink octopus.

Castles and towns/homes/lighthouses: Grey castles, red roofs, brown houses. Lighthouses are white with a brightly colored diagonal stripe.

Anchors and Treasure: The caves are black as are the anchors.

Water: I do this last so I don't overlap any colors. Nice and blue.

Other: I was watching Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade so I added a part of it to the map. Also I did an X for treasure but later turned it into palm trees. I want the kid to make his own X. You also need a few whirlpools because, what's pirating without a little risk right?

After all of this go over your heavy black lines again, it makes it look better and gives you an opportunity to see all areas and think about what more you want to do. And again with the fine tipped marker. Add the details, the brick of the castle walls, doors on homes, etc

Step 5: Details

I started thinking of weird geeky things to add. A tardis, AT-AT, Enterprise, etc. Then I thought I might as well give the kid some blood so shark fins in a bloody cloud with body parts floating in them. 

I wanted the Imperial Probe from Empire Strikes Back so I turned the lower right corner into winter, a yeti showed up too. Some images got more detail and shading, the rocks around the octopus, whirlpools, farmland, waves under boats and I'd go between painting and using the markers. Folding it up was useful to bring with me to work but it made holes along the folds and I had to use scrap paper to patch it up. It helps to make the map big and then trim some extra off.

The first map I made had everything named from every fictional book, movie or video game I could find on Wikipedia. This one just didn't have the space so I named islands after siblings and parents. 

Step 6: Finishing

I was having to patch more and more every time I worked on it so it was time to finish. The back looked like I'd patched it unevenly and  I wanted a good skull and crossbones. I sprayed the back with a light blue acrylic and then made a stencil for the image. This time I used red, and it got a little bit windy. It did an ok job though. You can see my patches now that the red has outlined them.

Trim the map to 2'x3' (if you plan on laminating it at Staples, that's their limit). I folded and tore so there'd be a nice ragged edge. Then I took some burnt umber, a bit heavier than the wash I used to age the map, and went around the edges to make them look darker. 

You don't have to laminate but this thing starts to get holes and fall apart after everything you've done, plus kids can really play with it this way. While waiting for the lamination I wandered Staples and found some dry erase markers for $3. Perfect. All finished I trimmed the plastic so it looked had a nicer even edge. Rolled up and deliver to said child and he loved it: the names of islands and all the beasties and bloody body parts and everything. 

More pics on flickr and blogger.