Introduction: Hand Painted World Maps (6ft X 3ft)

About: I'm passionate about home brewing, carpentry and other DIY projects! I have learned a lot from this site and I hope to share some of my own projects with you.

This map was inspired by something I saw painted on a massive rock in South East Asia.

The idea has been in my head for some years and eventually I got around to painting it, with the help of some very close friends.

The beauty about this map is that it costs about 10$ to make and it can be modified to fit your needs. It could be a fun kids project, but it can also be done in a more sophisticated way and hung as a massive feature in your living room.

Since the creation of my first map, I have gone on to create over 20 other maps of different sizes, color schemes, specific countries etc. I now call these "Imagine Maps" after John Lennon's song "Imagine" where he talks about a world with no borders, where we live happily as one.

It is my pleasure to share this instructable with you and I hope you get inspired and share pictures with me of the maps you have created like this one.


  1. Old sheet to be used as the canvas - I got mine in a thrift store for 3$
  2. Brown paper - bought in the dollar store
  3. Sharp blade - I used an exacto knife
  4. Acrylic paint - Also bought from the dollar store (colors of your choice)
  5. Tape - to hold the stencil to the sheet
  6. Projector - (Optional) to help make the stencil

Step 1: Creation of Stencil

To begin, we live on a ball. For simplicity, we make maps flat and well, that distorts reality.

So pick your preference of projection whether it be Mercator, Dymaxion, Robinson etc and set up your stencil material (brown paper) on the wall. In my case, I used two pieces of brown paper because one piece was not big enough so I simply taped them together. Using a projector, project the image you have chosen onto the stencil material and trace it out using a pencil.

Once completed, use the exacto knife and cut out the continents.

If you do not have a projector, draw a grid onto your stencil material and then look at the grid on the map image above. Take it one square at a time, and draw each piece. The smaller your grid, the more accurate you will be. My humble advice would be to borrow a projector from anyone if you want to make a really big map. With smaller maps, you can easier get away with the grid technique (or even tracing from a big atlas).

Step 2: "Canvas" Prep

I wanted my map to have a rustic feel so I stained the bed sheet with tea. This is optional!

I also made maps on plain white sheets as well and they look great.

If you want to stain yours, simple make a pot of strong tea or coffee and soak the sheet for a few minutes, then let it dry.

Once dried, tape the stencil to the sheet so that it does not move about as you start painting.

Step 3: Painting

This is the most enjoyable part. This map was painted by hand, literally.

Fill a palate with your favorite colors, dip your finger and start along the edges of the stencil. Go around the entire map until you have the full outline. Then begin painting the inside. - This was my method but its your map, find what works for you and enjoy the process.

A little background to my first map. I did it with some friends after the 1st year of university and I got them to paint their hand prints on the map. Other maps I made after that did not have the hand prints. The first one was very special to me but you can do anything you choose.

Step 4: Variations

Since the creation of my first map, I have made about 20 other maps for friends and family.

  • The smaller maps were quicker to do and still lots of fun.
  • Sometimes I burnt the edges of the sheet to give it a more rustic feel.
  • I put Africa in the center of the world on a map, as requested by a friend.
  • I painted an entire map with red, yellow, orange, pink and purple- sunset themed. It was epic!
  • I created a map of Australia on a piece of wood, with blue resin- I will do another instructable for that.
  • I spray painted a negative map of Trinidad (my home) in black on burlap material which I really loved

The sky is the limit. It's art. There are no rules. Have fun with it!

Step 5: Mounting

Luckily for me, I was able to put pins in the brick wall of my apartment and mount the sheet to the pins.

The cloth is really light so mounting it is very simple.

If you want to get fancy and make a simple frame out of pitch pine and stretch the sheet to cover it, I'd love to see how it comes out so please share that with me!

Maps Challenge

Second Prize in the
Maps Challenge