photoshop creative

Design an antique-style treasure map in 14 steps!

Posted in:
Blog, by Mark White
January 7, 2015

Uncover great Photoshop techniques to make a treasure map appear realistically weathered and aged

1. Lay out the map

Use a line drawing to construct the map. Go to Layer>New Group, paste the different elements in the group and move them around until you are happy with the composition. Add plenty of topographical details to make the map interesting. Then go to Layer>Merge Group.

2. Set up layers for painting

Duplicate the map, then use the Magic Eraser tool on the duplicated layer to erase the white sea areas from the image. Start a new layer and set the blend mode to Multiply. This layer is where the sea will be painted.

3. Choose a brush

Open the Brush tool and pick the Watercolour Light Opacity brush. In the Brush palette, check Scattering, Texture and Dual Brush and adjust the percentages of each until the brush gives a slightly patchy, textured finish.

4. Paint in the sea

Choose a neutral blue tone for the sea. Paint roughly around the edges of the map. Then drag the painted layer down so it sits on top of the original map layer and under the copied layer. the painted areas of the sea should be visible.

5. Fade the painted areas

Select the Eraser tool and choose a Watercolour brush. Adjust the settings in the same way as in Step 3, but this time also adjust the Opacity to around 90%. Erase sections of the sea so the edges of the paint fade out a little.

6. Continue painting the map

Antique maps often have a limited colour palette. Use the Paint Bucket tool to fill large areas and use the Eraser tool to stop the colour becoming too uniform. Set the blend mode on painted layers to Multiply so the different areas of colour are visible.

7. Add additional features

Now is a good time to add additional details to the map. Antique maps look great with illustrative elements like ships and dragons. Pen and ink illustrations, like the examples provided, work best. You can either lightly colour them or keep them linear.

8. Adjust the colour

Flatten the artwork, go to Layer>Duplicate Layer and then go to Window>Styles; make sure Photographic Styles is ticked and choose Sepia Tone. Set to Overlay. Adjust Opacity until some of the colour in the layer below can be seen.

9. Erase the sepia layer

Antique maps rarely fade evenly, so erase some of the sepiia layer to make the colour appear less uniform. Select the Brush tool with a Watercolour Light Opacity brush and adjust the brush settings. Check Scattering and Texture and uncheck Dual Brush. Erase sections of the sepia layer until the map looks slightly patchy.

10. Add paper textures

At this stage, the map looks more antique and aged, but it’s still clearly made using a computer so it’s time to add some real paper textures. There are lots available on the internet, but if you want to make your on, stain the paper with watercolour washes or even tea.

11. Experiment with textures

Create a new group and paste the paper texture into the group. Layer the paper texture on top of the map and try editing the different layers to see what works well with your design. In this case, we set the initial paper texture blend mode to Multiply.

12. Keep layering

Once there is a layer of texture add a few smaller areas in places to make it look stained and weathered. Set blend mode to Colour Burn to get some great ochre shades. Adjust the layer opacity to make the effect look more natural.

13. Add a compass

Not only is a compass an essential addition to any map, it can tie the image together. Start a new layer and select the Line tool>Pixels. Draw diverging lines from the centre of the compass to resemble longitude lines. Set the blend mode to Colour Burn.

14. Add the finishing touch

Select the Eraser tool and erase sections of the longitude lines. Then duplicate the map layer and move it to the top. Open the Colour Overlay layer style and choose a blue tone. Reduce the layer Opacity to around 30-40% so the layers below appear faded.