Easy Steps to Draw a Vintage Map & Compass Rose
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 9 min read


  1. Gather your drawing materials
  2. Choose the layout of your map
  3. Sketch the outline of your map
  4. Add landmarks and features
  5. Draw the compass rose
  6. Add details to your compass rose
  7. Ink your drawing
  8. Add shading and texture
  9. Color your map and compass rose
  10. Add the finishing touches

Imagine finding a long-lost treasure map, beautifully adorned with intricate details and a vintage compass rose, guiding adventurers towards their coveted prize. Now, imagine being able to create such a piece of art yourself. Yes, you! In this blog, we'll unveil the mystery behind how to draw a vintage map with compass rose in easy, manageable steps.

Gather your drawing materials

First things first, you'll need to gather the right tools. Just like a carpenter wouldn't start building a house without a hammer and nails, you shouldn't start drawing your vintage map without the proper materials. Here's what you'll need:

  • Pencil: Any HB pencil will do the trick. This will be your primary tool for sketching.
  • Eraser: Mistakes happen to the best of us, and an eraser is your best friend when they do.
  • Ruler: A ruler is handy for drawing straight lines and borders, making your map look neat and professional.
  • Compass: No, not the navigational kind—though you'll draw one of those later! A drawing compass helps you draw perfect circles.
  • Fine liner pens: They come in various sizes and are perfect for inking your drawing.
  • Colored pencils or watercolor paint: To bring your map to life with a splash of color.
  • Drawing paper: This is where your vintage map will come to life. A size A4 sheet is a good starting point.

Remember, the quality of your tools can make a big difference in your final artwork. So, choose wisely. Now that we have our gear ready, let's explore how to draw a vintage map with compass rose step by step.

Choose the layout of your map

Now that we have our art supplies ready, let's get started on our vintage map. Before you even start drawing, you need to visualize the layout of your map. Is your map going to resemble an existing place, or is it a fantasy world that you're about to bring to life?

Remember, there's no right or wrong answer here. Your map is your canvas, and you get to dictate where the mountains, rivers, and cities go. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Scale: Is your map going to depict a whole continent or just a tiny island? The scale of your map will influence the level of detail you can include.
  • Orientation: Will North be at the top of your map, or are you going to shake things up a bit? The orientation will influence where you'll place the compass rose.
  • Physical Features: Are there any mountains, forests, rivers, or oceans? Where are they located?
  • Man-made Features: Any cities, roads, or landmarks that need to be included? Where will they be placed?

Once you've decided on the layout, lightly sketch it out on your paper. Don't worry about getting it perfect on the first try, as this is just a rough draft. The main goal here is to get a general sense of where everything is going to be placed. This helps in understanding how to draw a vintage map with compass rose in a coherent and visually pleasing manner.

Sketch the outline of your map

Time to make your vision a reality! With your layout in mind, let's start sketching the outline of your vintage map. Again, don't get too hung up on the details right now—this is just the skeleton of your map.

Start by drawing the outer edges of your map. Is it a square, a rectangle, or does it have an irregular shape? Maybe you want to go for a true vintage vibe and make it look like a torn piece of parchment. Totally up to you! Just remember: your map, your rules.

Next, sketch out the major features discussed in your layout. Draw the main bodies of water first—oceans, seas, lakes, and rivers. These natural boundaries often define the shape of the land. Then, draw the rough locations of mountain ranges, forests, or deserts. Finally, mark the general locations of cities, towns, or any other man-made landmarks.

It's okay if it looks messy right now. The idea is to get all the main elements in place. We're learning how to draw a vintage map with compass rose, and every great map starts with a rough sketch. Don't be afraid to erase and adjust as you go—this is part of the process. It's all about shaping and reshaping until you're happy with the result.

Add landmarks and features

Now that we have a rough sketch, let's breathe some life into it by adding landmarks and features. This is where the personality of your map really starts to shine.

Make the bodies of water more defined. Add ripples to the ocean, waves crashing against the shore, or calm circles in a serene lake. Do you see the way the river bends and twists? It's guiding you, telling its own story. These details will make your map feel more dynamic and alive.

Consider adding texture to the land as well. Draw clusters of trees for forests, sharp peaks for mountains, or wavy lines for deserts. These visual cues will help your viewer understand the geography of your world.

And of course, don't forget the man-made landmarks. Stylized buildings for towns and cities, bridges over rivers, maybe even a castle or two. These landmarks give your map character and depth. They’re the marks of civilization, the hints of life in your world.

Remember, this is your chance to be a little creative. You're not just drawing a map, you're building a world. So as you're figuring out how to draw a vintage map with compass rose, don't forget to make it uniquely yours. After all, every map is a self-portrait of its creator.

Draw the compass rose

Alright, with our map taking shape, it's time to navigate. Let's draw the compass rose, an essential element that gives direction to our map. This will help anyone who glances at your map to know which way is north, south, east, and west.

Start by drawing a circle in an open space on your map. Inside this circle, draw a smaller one. Now, imagine this circle as a clock and draw lines from the center to the edge at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o'clock. Extend these lines slightly outside the larger circle.

Next, label the extended lines with 'N' for north, 'S' for south, 'E' for east, and 'W' for west. This will ensure that anyone reading your map will know exactly which way they're heading.

Feeling fancy? Add some flair to your compass rose. Decorate it with ornate lines, intricate patterns, or even tiny symbols. It's not just a tool for direction, but part of the aesthetics. It's a chance to bring a touch of artistry to your map.

Remember, when learning how to draw a vintage map with compass rose, the details count. So take your time, be precise, and let your creativity flow. It will make your map not only informative but also visually appealing.

Add details to your compass rose

Now that you've nailed down the basics of your compass rose, it's time to sprinkle in some vintage charm. Adding details to your compass rose can transform it from a simple directional tool into a captivating piece of art that enhances the overall look of your map.

Let's start by adding cardinal points—those are the 'NE' for northeast, 'SE' for southeast, 'SW' for southwest, and 'NW' for northwest. Place these between the 'N', 'S', 'E', and 'W' letters you previously drew. These additional directions can give your map a more professional and vintage touch.

Next, consider giving your compass rose a three-dimensional effect. You can achieve this by adding light shading along one side of the compass rose. Keep in mind where your light source is and be consistent with it. This technique can make your compass rose pop off the page and give it a more realistic appearance.

Finally, bring out the vintage vibe by adding some decorative flourishes. Think about the era you're representing and research the types of designs that were popular then. Maybe add some scrollwork, a few ornate leaves, or even a tiny ship sailing around the edge. Remember, this is your map, and you can design your compass rose however you like.

Adding details to your compass rose is a key part in learning how to draw a vintage map with compass rose. It's these little touches that will give your map a unique character and make it truly your own.

Ink your drawing

Inking your drawing is a crucial step in creating a vintage map with a compass rose. It's what will give your map a crisp, defined look, and it's also the point of no return! So, before we dive in, make sure you're happy with your sketch.

Start by carefully tracing over your pencil lines with a fine-tip ink pen. When tracing your compass rose, remember to keep your hand steady. If you're worried about smudging, start inking from the top of your page and work your way down. This way, your hand won't be resting on any freshly-inked parts of your map.

When it comes to inking the smaller details, such as landmarks or the tiny ship sailing around your compass rose, using a pen with a smaller nib can be helpful. This will give you more control and precision, ensuring that you don't lose any of those lovely details you worked so hard on.

Once you've finished inking, let your map dry for a few minutes before moving onto the next step. Remember, patience is key here—smudging your beautifully inked map would be a real bummer!

There you have it! You're one step closer to mastering how to draw a vintage map with compass rose. The transformation from a simple sketch to a bold, inked design can be truly magical, don't you think?

Add shading and texture

Adding shading and texture is the next step in your journey of crafting a vintage map with a compass rose. The right blend of shadows and textures can turn your map from a flat sketch into a three-dimensional masterpiece.

Use a softer pencil, like a 2B or 4B, to create shading. For areas that you want to appear darker or deeper, like the depths of the ocean or the hollows of the mountains, press harder with your pencil. For lighter areas, like the sandy shores or the tips of your mountains, use a lighter touch.

Adding texture is all about creating visual interest. For example, you can create wavy lines for bodies of water, or use dots and lines to simulate the roughness of a mountain or the grain of a forest. It's all about using your imagination and being as creative as you want. This is your map, after all!

Remember, when you're learning how to draw a vintage map with compass rose, it's all about the journey—not just the destination. So, take your time with this step. Experiment with different shading techniques and textures until you're happy with the results.

By now, your map should be coming to life, don't you think? And, if you've followed along, you're now an expert in adding depth and dimension to your map. So, what's next on our map-drawing adventure?

Color your map and compass rose

Let's move on to one of the most exciting parts of the process: adding color to your vintage map and compass rose! Color not only brings your map to life but it can also give it that vintage look you're aiming for.

For coloring, you can use colored pencils, watercolors, or even markers. It's up to you and the look you're going for. Start with lighter colors and gradually build up to darker shades for a more realistic effect. For a vintage feel, try using earthy tones such as browns, greens, and blues.

When it comes to your compass rose, consider using contrasting colors to make it stand out from the rest of your map. This is the guiding star of your map after all! Just remember to be consistent with the vintage theme.

Applying color is a fun and creative step in the process of learning how to draw a vintage map with compass rose. And, remember, no two maps are the same, just like no two adventures are the same. So, let your creativity run wild and color your map in a way that reflects your unique artistic style.

Isn't it amazing to see your map transform with each stroke of color? And just think, you're not only creating a work of art, but you're also creating a world of your own. So, are you ready to put the final touches on your vintage map?

Add the finishing touches

Now that you've colored your map and compass rose, it's time to add those final touches that will make your map look truly vintage. This is where the magic really happens.

Start by softly smudging areas of your map with a paper towel or a piece of cloth. This will give the colors a slightly faded look, typical of an old, well-loved map. Be careful not to overdo it, though. A little goes a long way!

Next, add a few well-placed "wear and tear" marks. You can do this by lightly erasing small areas or adding small, sketchy lines to mimic creases. This gives the illusion that your map has survived many adventures.

Lastly, consider adding a border to your map. It could be a simple line, an ornate design, or even a series of small sketches - whatever suits your style and the theme of your map. A border will not only frame your work beautifully but also add another layer of authenticity to your vintage map.

Adding the finishing touches is the final step in learning how to draw a vintage map with compass rose. And voila! You've created a beautiful, unique piece of art that tells its own story. Isn't it rewarding to see your vision come to life?

So, what's your next adventure? Perhaps another vintage map, or maybe a modern cityscape? Whatever it is, remember, the world is your canvas, and you're the artist. Happy drawing!

If you enjoyed learning about drawing a vintage map and compass rose and want to explore more creative mapping techniques, check out Philippe's workshop, 'You Are Here: Creative Mapping.' This workshop will help you expand your skills and discover new ways to create unique and inspiring maps that tell a story.