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Watercolor Map Art: a WonderMap Tutorial

Watercolor Map Art: a WonderMap Tutorial

A surefire way to keep my kids engaged with any subject is to incorporate art whenever possible. Geography is no exception to that rule. And, while geography and art don’t always go together, it’s easy to combine the two subjects with some help from WonderMaps.

Here’s a step-by-step look at how we used WonderMaps to create watercolor map art.

My son and I started our project by choosing a map. We considered using a historical map that corresponds with our lessons from The Mystery of History, but opted to focus on one country of interest instead — Italy.

We cleared most of the WonderMaps layers from our Italy map, leaving only the borders and color overlay. Removing the other layers made the tracing cleaner and easier.

After we printed our map, we gathered the following art supplies. Links to Amazon are affiliate links.  

When we finished gathering our supplies, my son started the project by shading the back side of the printed map of Italy with a pencil. Then I taped his map, shaded side down, to a piece of watercolor paper. When the map was secured to the watercolor paper, he traced the outlines of the printed map.  

I carefully removed the taped copy of the map when he finished the tracing. That simple shading trick allowed him to copy his original map of Italy onto his sheet of watercolor paper. The shading technique would also work well for creating map art on any art medium if direct map printing isn’t an option.

Using WonderMaps for Easy Watercolor Map Art • transfer the map

After removing the original map, my son went over his pencil map with a black Sharpie. He also filled in any lines that didn’t transfer well from the original map and erased any stray pencil marks that were transferred from the copying process.


When the Sharpie outlines were complete and the pencil marks were removed, he used a white oil pastel to create a secondary outline around the Sharpie lines. A white crayon will also work for this step. This white outline helps prevent the Sharpie ink and watercolors from mixing by creating a barrier between the water and land portions of the map art.

Using WonderMaps for Easy Watercolor Map Art • outline with white oil pastel

Once all of the outlines were complete, my son colored the map with watercolor pencils. He chose to follow the shading from our map of Italy and used blue, green, brown, and white pencils for this step. Next he used paintbrushes and water to bring the watercolor map of Italy to life.

Using WonderMaps for Easy Watercolor Map Art • brushing water onto watercolor penciled map

After his watercolor map dried, he traced his borders with the black Sharpie again. This last outline provided definition to the borders that were dulled by the watercolors.

Using WonderMaps for Easy Watercolor Map Art • finished watercolor map of Italy

I love how my son’s watercolor map art turned out, but I also love how excited he is to try more of these projects. Next he wants to create watercolor maps to go along with the Roman Empire and Europe during The Renaissance.

The great thing about using WonderMaps for these art projects is that we’ll be able to utilize the thematic maps, add and remove map layers, and include gridlines or labels as needed.

What about you? Have used WonderMaps for art projects with your homeschool?

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