By Satish B, Head Academics, Jain Animation School


Hello and welcome to Oasis, the official blog of Jain Animation School.

In this exciting Photoshop tutorial, I will teach you a cool technique to create ancient maps, like the ones we see in movies, television series and games.

In this example, I have used Photoshop CS 5. However, this technique can be adapted to any version of Photoshop.

Let us begin by creating a new Photoshop document and giving it a relevant name.

I am calling this one Map of Gwalur. It is fictitious of course.

Then, we will change the preset to Web, width to 1600 pixels and height to 1200 pixels.

Click Ok and the document is ready.


We will go ahead and fill the background with black color by using the paint bucket tool.



All ancient maps were generally drawn on parchment or animal skin.

So we will create a piece of parchment first.

Create a new layer by clicking on Layer > New > Layer. Name the layer as Parchment.


Fill the layer with a dull yellow color by using the paint bucket tool.


Then, click on the filter menu, go to noise and click on add noise.


In the add noise panel, make the following changes.

Make sure monochromatic is checked and change the amount to 10 percent.


Then we will blur the layer by clicking on Filter > blur > Gaussian blur.

In the Gaussian blur panel, set the radius to 1 pixel and click OK.


Then go to filter, click on Artistic and apply rough pastels. Adjust the settings as you see fit. Now the parchment is ready.


We will create the torn corners next. We will do that by deleting small sections around the perimeter.

Make a small selection near the top left corner by using the Lasso tool and delete it to create a tear.


Get creative and repeat the above process around the perimeter as many times as you want to create torn corners and edges.


Double click the parchment layer to activate layer styles.

Choose inner shadow as the layer style.

Set the Blend mode to Color burn, Opacity to about 50%, Distance to 15, Choke to 11 and Size to around 250. This will create a reddish shadow on the parchment and make it look old.


Now let us create the map and place it on the parchment.

Create a new layer by clicking on Layer > New > Layer. Name the layer as Map.

Press d on the keyboard to default the foreground and background colors to black and white respectively.

Click on Filter, go to Render and add Clouds. This will fill a black and white noise pattern on the Map layer.


Next, click on Filter, go to Render and apply Difference clouds. The result should look like the following image. Note that the mysterious shapes of continents have started emerging.


Repeat the same filter by pressing ctrl + f as many times as you want. You may stop if you see a satisfactory shape emerge from the clouds.


Go to the Image menu, choose Adjustments and click on Levels.


In the Levels panel, click and drag the white input level all the way towards the black input level. The result should be similar to the one shown below. Click Ok to accept the changes.


Next, select the Map layer and set its blending mode to Multiply.


Now we should be able to see the map on the parchment clearly.

With the Map layer selected, click on Edit and choose Free Transform.


This will create the transform handles around the Map layer. Resize the map by using these transform handles so that the entire map will fit properly on the parchment.

You can also get rid of any unwanted patches by painting white with the brush tool. This will also give us enough space to add the labels.

Next, let us create a border line for the map.

Double – click on the Map layer. This will bring up the Layer Style panel.

Select Stroke as the style.

Set Size to around 3 pixels, Position to inside, Blend mode to Linear Burn and Fill type to Pattern. Apply a suitable pattern according to your choice and adjust the scale value.

This creates a broken outline around the map.


Next, we will add the labels to make the map more useful. For this, I am using 2 fonts – Papyrus and Pristina.

If you don’t have them, you can download them from the internet for free. You may also use any other font that suits you.

Think of a title for the map.

I have used Kingdom of Gwalur as the title.

Use the Type tool in Photoshop to create the title. I have used the Papyrus font set to Faux bold for this one. Resize and position the title in a suitable corner of the map.


Now think of more labels. Make sure they have an air of mystery and fantasy about them.

Here are a few examples.

Dark Sea, Dragon Bay, Devil’s Lantern, Witch’s Cove, Isle of Knights, King’s Landing … etc.

Type the labels and arrange them on the map where they fit. I have used the Pristina font for the labels.

When you are done, your map should look similar to this one.


Note that I have left room on the top left corner to add a compass to indicate general directions.

Create a new layer by clicking on Layer > New > Layer. Name the layer as Compass.

Choose the Custom Shape Tool and set its mode to Fill Pixels. Also make sure that the foreground color is set to black.


From the shape pull down menu, choose Symbols as the category. You should be able to see the compass now.


Choose the compass and click and drag to create the shape. Resize and position it accordingly.


We are almost done with the map. As a final touch, let us add a few dirt stains.

Create a new layer by clicking on Layer > New > Layer. Name the layer as Dirt stains. Move and position this layer above the Parchment layer.

Choose the brush tool and from the pull down menu, select Special Effect Brushes. Pick a brush called Scattered Wild Flowers.


Using the chosen brush, paint dirt stains intuitively.

When you are done, set the blending mode of the layer to Overlay.


You should have a map similar to the one below.


Save the file in the PSD format so that you can make changes to it later on.

Now it is time for you to show your cartography skills.

I wish you good luck in creating your own maps now.

If you have any questions, please email them to and I will be happy to respond.