A Watercolor World Map

DIY Wall Art

Last year, I made a black and white and gold world map for my office with an engineering print.

Of course, that map is still hanging at the other house, while we live in a house with miles of bare walls.

Which meant an excuse to get another engineering print and do another world map.

Staples Engineering Print

This time, though, I knew I wanted to do something a little different and we were in desperate need of some color in our living room.

So instead of printing off the map, decorating it a bit, and then hanging it up, this time I used my engineering print as a stencil, painted the map in bright colors onto a canvas, and voila! Now the wall above our couch isn’t a sad sea of loneliness.

Also, when you’re buying a 36×48 inch canvas at the store and putting it in your trunk, it seems ENORMOUS. And then you hang it on the wall and it seems pretty average size.

If you’d like to make your own (and it’s totally simple), here’s what you’ll need:

  • Engineering print of the world (I used this image and printed off the 36×48 size, but you could, obviously, do a smaller size)
  • Canvas of the same size as your engineering print (I bought mine at Michael’s for $25)
  • Painter’s Tape
  • A large piece of cardboard
  • A sharp craft knife
  • Spouncer Stencil Brushes (the cheapest ones I found were at JoAnn Fabrics)
  • Acrylic paints (I used three shades of blue, two shades of green, yellow, orange, red, two shades of pink, and purple)
Cut Out Your Map

Tape your engineering print to a large piece of cardboard and carefully cut out the black parts to make a stencil (in a few cases, like the Mediterranean sea separating Africa and Europe, make sure to save the piece you cut out so you can use it when you paint).

World Map Outline

Once you’ve cut out the stencil, carefully tape it on to your canvas (I just taped it in the four corners).

Now the fun part! Using your brushes, paint in the colors (I used this map as a general guide for the colors). Make sure to use an up and down sponging motion so your edges stay clean and the paint doesn’t bleed under the stencil.

Once you’ve finished, carefully remove the paper and discard (don’t let it dry overnight or anything – by the time I finished in Asia, the paint from North America was already dry enough that I had to be pretty careful removing the stencil on that side since it was starting to stick to the canvas).

Watercolor map

Let it dry completely, then hang it up and enjoy!

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  • Reply Mimsie February 6, 2015 at 1:26 pm


  • Reply Jennifer Lee February 6, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    Looks great!

  • Reply Betsy February 6, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    This is awesome!!!

  • Reply Ruth Maldonado February 6, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    That is awesome! Adds so much color and takes up a lot of space on a large wall! Very cute!

  • Reply Meghan February 6, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    I love this!

  • Reply Feisty Harriet February 6, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    So pretty! I love this.


  • Reply Jones February 6, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    What a great idea and it is so attractive. Nice to put it on canvas. Now you can take it with you!

  • Reply Vanessa • Little Gold Pixel February 7, 2015 at 8:28 am

    Very impressive!

  • Reply Allie @ Everyday Adventures February 7, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    Love the colors you chose!

  • Reply Pienkel February 7, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    Awesome! Would be fun (yet tiny to cut out I'm afraid) on a shirt as well…

  • Reply The Little Day Dreamer February 8, 2015 at 10:05 am

    That's a brilliant idea! thanks for sharing.

    x Kate

  • Reply Shelly February 8, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    Looks wonderful! I'd like to do something similar for my house, just have to find the motivation for the stencil cutting out step.

  • Reply Alysa Stewart February 9, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    So beautiful! I love it! I think I like it even better than the black and gold one. But girlfriend, it's not watercolor! You did it with acrylics! My inner artiste is raising one eyebrow. Still my fave project you've done, even if I disagree with the title.

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