• Ethiopia Lettering Map: A Thoughtful DIY Gift

    Next time you want to create a gift for someone, consider a lettering map! Today, I’ll walk you through how I made an artistic and fun Ethiopia lettering map for a friend.

    Ethiopia Lettering Map - A Thoughtful DIY Gift

    I like to innovate and post new project tutorials regularly, but some projects are just so cool that I can’t resist making them again. This lettering map is an excellent example! Last year, I made a Brazil lettering map similar to this one. Today, I wanted to create a gift for an Ethiopian friend, and I knew that the lettering map concept would be perfect. In today’s article, I’ll show you how to make this Ethiopia lettering map. Feel free to modify the concept for any country, state, or city!

    1. Gather Your Supplies

    To make an Ethiopia lettering map like this one, you’ll need the following supplies (find a list below the photo):

    Supplies Needed to Make an Ethiopia Lettering Map

    2. Trace a Map Outline

    Next, print a large outline of a map of Ethiopia (you can use Google Image Search to find a map). Place your watercolor paper over the map, then use a bright window or a light box to trace the map onto the watercolor paper.

    Ethiopia Lettering Map Outline
    If you don’t have a printer, you can always use your computer screen as a DIY light box.

    3. Make a Pencil Draft of Your Lettering

    Now, if you have the Lasso Lettering worksheet, print page 2 to keep at hand as a reference (or open the worksheet in your PDF reader).

    The All-New Lasso Lettering Worksheet + Lasso Lettering Projects


    Then, use your mechanical pencil to begin filling in state outlines with their names, written in Lasso Lettering. Extend flourishes from the lettering (and independent flourishes) all the way to the borders of the state outlines. Doing so will ensure that the finished artwork is recognizable as a country from a distance.

    Making Lettering on a Map
    It’s best to use a mechanical pencil to make this pencil draft. You need a nice, thin stroke to keep things clean!

    Keep on making lettering and flourishes until your map looks something like this:

    Ethiopia Lettering Map Pencil Draft
    Notice that the sizes of the country names vary depending on how much space I have to write them.

    I ran into a challenge on this lettering map that didn’t come up on the Brazil lettering map: teeny-tiny states. Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa, and Harari are all practically dots on the map. For those states, I abandoned the Lasso Lettering style and wrote as small as I could within the state outlines.

    4. Add Watercolor

    Once you’ve finished the pencil draft, it’s time to bring your map to life with color! Use a blunt art syringe to moisten the colors in your watercolor palette that can be found in the Ethiopian flag: dark green, red, light blue, and yellow. (I opted to use glittery Arabic gold watercolor instead of yellow, which is also what I did with the Brazil map.) Then, use the watercolor calligraphy technique to apply watercolor to the back of your nib and write with the watercolors.

    Adding Watercolor to an Ethiopia Lettering Map
    I used a straight pen fitted with a Nikko G nib to draw the lettering in this map.

    Use a different color for each state to differentiate them from one another.

    Adding Watercolor to an Ethiopia Lettering Map
    It’s my personal preference to use a Brause EF66 nib + oblique pen to trace over the flourished parts of this project.

    Continue to trace over your pencil draft with the watercolors, alternating colors as you move from state to state.

    Ethiopia Lettering Map

    5. Erase and Enjoy

    Once you’re absolutely certain that your watercolor has dried, use a high-quality eraser to get rid of any pencil draft lines.

    Erasing the Pencil Draft Lines for an Ethiopia Lettering Map
    I let my piece dry overnight before erasing pencil draft lines. After investing 3+ hours making this artwork, I didn’t want to ruin it with a smudge from still-wet paint at this stage!

    When all the pencil draft lines are gone, you’re finished:

    Ethiopia Lettering Map - A Thoughtful DIY Gift
    Voilà: a gift-worthy lettering map!

    Tips for Modifying This Concept

    You can use this lettering map concept for all sorts of different places. Generally, countries with only a few states or territories are the easiest to tackle. Creating a map of a place like the United States, which has 50 different states, is definitely do-able, but it will take a while and should be made on paper that’s at least 11″ x 14″. In the video below, you can see a bit of my process behind making a lettering map of Brazil:

    If you’re dealing with a country that only has two usable flag colors — again, like the United States — you can incorporate black into the map to use as a third color. (The U.S. flag is red, white, and blue; but you can’t really write with white on light-colored paper!) Black is a nice neutral that will enhance the color scheme.

    Ethiopia Lettering Map - A Thoughtful DIY Gift

    Try to think out of the box with this project! You don’t have to limit yourself to making lettering maps of countries. Use the concept for cities (for example, New York City has Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, etc.), states (divided into cities or counties), and more.

    If You’re Uncomfortable Using a Dip Pen …

    If you like this concept, but you’re new to using a dip pen, consider making a lettering map like the one below. You can create it with any pen, and you don’t have to worry about switching out colors.

    California State Artwork
    I used a dip pen and black ink to create this map, but you could easily switch out the dip pen for a fine-tipped black gel pen such as Muji.

    Of course, if today’s tutorial motivates you to foray into the world of dip pen calligraphy, you can check outThe Beginner’s Guide to Modern Calligraphy. Either way, I hope you feel inspired to make something cool.

    Have a great weekend, and happy creating!


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