• Quick Calligraphy City Map Tutorial

    This calligraphy city map is simple, thoughtful, and comes together in an hour or two! Make it as a gift for someone with a love for a certain city, or create one to display in your own home.

    Quick Calligraphy City Map Tutorial | The Postman's Knock

    For the past month, we’ve had a friend staying with us who lived in Boulder for eight years — and she still loves it. After our friend’s graduation in 2019, she went back to her home country of Kuwait, but she’s been dreaming of Boulder ever since. Her Colorado visit comes to an end today, and I wanted to give her something special to remind her of her beloved city. Enter this calligraphy city map! It’s simple, eye-catching, and elegant: an excellent little gift. Here’s how to make it:

    1. Gather Your Supplies

    In order to make this map, you’ll need a few key supplies. You can find a list with links below this photo.

    Supplies needed to make a calligraphy city map

    *Your printout should fit within the bounds of your watercolor paper. If you need to resize the map image that you find online, you can use a program like Microsoft Word or Google Docs to do that. 

    2. Trace Streets

    First, place your watercolor paper over the city map printout. Put both pieces of paper on your light box, then use your straight pen, Nikko G nib, and iron gall ink to trace over the streets.

    Tracing the streets of Boulder, Colorado
    It’s a good idea to use a Nikko G nib for this step because it’s capable of creating clean, consistent lines. (The Nikko G’s medium flex makes it an excellent drawing nib.)

    Once you’re finished, your map should look something like this:

    Boulder, CO illustrated road map

    3. Make a Calligraphy and Lettering Draft

    Once your ink has dried (it won’t take long), use a pencil to make a draft of the calligraphy and lettering that you want to include on the map. I used small Sans Serif lettering to denote street names, then I used Kaitlin Style calligraphy to write out general areas and a couple of landmarks.

    Pencil Draft of Calligraphy City Map
    Feel free to complement the calligraphy on the map with a couple of illustrations.

    Pencil drafts are a bit tedious to create if you’re in a hurry, but you’ll be glad that you took the time to make one. A pencil draft ensures that you end up with a balanced layout that you’re happy with!

    4. Trace Over Your Work With Ink

    Now, use your iron gall ink and your favorite calligraphy nib/pen combination to trace over your calligraphy. (For now, leave the street names alone.) You can use your Nikko G nib and straight pen again for this step, but I prefer the more sumptuous stroke contrast of the Brause EF66 nib.

    If you made illustrations on your map, trace over them with iron gall ink as well.

    Then, trace over the block lettered street names with gold watercolor and a Nikko G nib.

    Boulder, CO Calligraphy City Map
    If you’re not sure how to write with gold watercolor, see this tutorial.

    5. Erase and Enjoy!

    Your gold watercolor should only take a couple of minutes to dry. Once it does, you can use a good eraser to get rid of any pencil draft lines.

    Calligraphy City Map

    Now, you can sit back and appreciate the lovely result of your efforts:

    Quick Calligraphy City Map Tutorial | The Postman's Knock

    I like this project because it’s quick and versatile. I’m all about making an intricate watercolor map over a several day period, but sometimes a person realistically only has an hour or two to dedicate to a project. In that case, this simple calligraphy city map is a great option. If you end up making one of these, I’d love to see — tag me on Instagram (@thepostmansknock), or share via email ([email protected]). It’s always rewarding for me to see that a TPK tutorial has sparked inspiration!


    Lindsey's Signature | The Postman's Knock