I've been wanting to go old school & draw some maps by hand... Something like you might see on the first page of an adventure novel. I've found next to nothing on the web and am hoping that one of you has (or has seen) an ancient cartography text that describes the basics. If yes, please reply with author/title so that I can narrow my search.

  • 2
    This is a skill I would love to have.
    – Nathan W
    Commented Nov 26, 2013 at 22:32
  • In addition to the great links from J-roc & Fetzer below, I've found a nice simple set of rules for drawing "Hachures" on Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hachure_map Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 21:41

4 Answers 4



Here is a good website with some tips on hand drawing shaded relief maps of mountainous areas. It is worth checking out.

  • Awesome site... There goes the rest of my day! Commented Nov 26, 2013 at 23:07

This blog entry has several links to creating different aspects of hand drawn maps. She mostly links to Fantastic Maps, which looks pretty interesting (the author actually created the maps for the Game of Thrones books). For example, this one on how to draw a town is pretty good. You might also want to have a look at Cartographers Guild which has a lot of hand drawn maps. However, it appears that many are actually drawn in Photoshop. But it looks as if there is at least one tutorial.

While not really a useful resource, this is a fun website.

Finally, there are a lot of different types of maps. Each would have their own methods. For example, are you drawing a world map? A map of a country? A town? A street? A fantasy map? Colour or black and white?


Are you looking to do a fictional place? Or are you looking to do a map on a real place?

If it is based upon a real place, I recommend that you developed the basic line work in something like QGIS from data available and then utilize GIMP (Photoshop) or Inkscape (Illustrator) to manipulate it into the hand drawn look.

This is a vast assortment of tutorials out there on both programs that utilize filters and other techniques to get a sketchy appearance.

  • Real/fictional/fantastical... I'm treating this as a hobby. I may eventually play with GIMP, but I'm currently in a luddite phase & I wanna use pencils... Good 'ol fashioned wooden pencils! Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 23:25

I might also add the forum Carto Talk which is a great resource for information on cartographic design. Prior to web-mapping-services and after the computer put an end to doing everything by hand, cartography was typically created (and still is largely) in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Illustrator is used for its robust vector editing and typography tools, Photoshop typically for editing shaded reliefs.

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