Paper Map

Let’s explore how to make a map from junk paper and paint. A way to reuse and recycle materials into a new artwork by using papier mache to glue and layer paper for the base. Then paint and draw your own adventure onto the surface.

An online guide to create a abstract imaginary map. This green activity reuses materials with a papier mache technique and painted or drawn designs.

Abstract paper map

What you need:


  • Flat Brush
  • Paint Brushes
  • Containers for water
  • Plastic card

Let's get started!

Paper Craft Tools


  • A4 coloured paper or thick card
  • Used/Junk White Paper
    (eg. old a4 forms or envelopes *Do not use glossy printed paper.)
  • White/PVA Glue
  • Paints (Acrylic, Poster) OR
    Coloured Markers or Pencils

Reuse Paper Materials



We will make an imaginary map like an abstract landscape. Create your own story by exploring trails through the countryside and paint your own colourful topography. (natural features of the land like rivers, hills, jungle, lakes).

Papier Mache Base

from junk paper

To make the map base.

Tear scraps of used junk paper into small sizes. It’s ok to have rough edges and odd shapes especially for the sides of your base.

Apply glue to the back of the paper and stick it down to each other and make your base shape as an area of land or like a little island.

Continue for about 3-4 layers. On the last layer try and use white paper like the back of A4 printed paper or envelopes to leave a clear base to paint.

Tip: Use the edge of a plastic card like an old mrt card to smooth the paper down and press out air bubbles in the glue.

Let it Dry!

Papier Mache Base
Card Scrapper to smooth surface

Paint Palette

Paint Base Colour

Paint your Map

using Acrylic or Poster paints

Choose 4 colours for your map.
I have on my earthy map :-

  1. Base colour – Yellowish Brown
  2. Waterways – Blue
  3. Trail colour – Dark Brown
  4. Marks and Features – White

You can have different colours for different landscapes like a green countryside or a beach and blue island seascape. But try and choose contrasting colours for your base and details

If you don’t have paints you can also use a brown paper base and just use markers and coloured pencils to draw your map details.

Paint your base colour and let it dry.

Drip and Flow Paint

for the rivers and trails

Mix the blue paint with more water and drip it on the surface. Then lift the base and tilt it to the sides to let the water flow like a river. Once you are happy with the arrangement place it flat and let the paint dry

Then repeat this technique with the dark brown paint for the trails.

Drip Liquid Paint

Tip: Use a container for the liquid blue paint and drip it in various spots before tilting it and letting it flow. You can add a bigger pool of blue for a lake or pond.

Blue River Trails

While the liquid moves randomly, still think about the composition and spread out the flow.

Painted Map Details

Add the Details

Paint or Draw topographical features.

Use a smaller brush to paint or a marker to draw and connect the trails with some topographical lines and curves.

You can also add some symbols for areas of interest like trees or mountains.

Add dots and lines in white for your path through your map or mark your start and finish viewpoints.

Your masterpiece map is finished!

Painted Map Details

Painted Map Details

Roll up your map for a gift or hang it on the wall as an abstract artwork!

Would be great to see what you made! Please share and tag your creations on instagram with #ankcraft

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Sometimes its more fun to make stuff together or if you need a bit of motivation or a personal art guide for more explorations and techniques
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Map Making Ideas

Create your own designs with your own symbols, marks and terrain.

Other References & Inspiration

Here are some links where you can read more about the possibilities and different ideas on creative Map Making.

Some local Exhibitions related to Maps:

  • Mapping the World: Perspectives from Asian Cartography Showcasing rare historical maps exhibition at the National Library, Singapore.

  • Geo|Graphic . Look at historic maps and related art projects from Southeast Asia and Singapore

  • NLB Spatial Discovery App . A great resource by the National Library, Singapore.

  • Contemporary Maps:

  • Art21: Maps Providing a Sense of Direction

  • In Illustration :

  • Tom Froese Maps Graphic Design Landmark Maps