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How To Draw An Illustrated Map Part 2: Adding decorative details to your compass rose

Updated: Jan 23

You've joined me for the second installment in my how to draw an illustrated map series. Today, I want to show you how to add decorative details to your compass rose, and give you a bit of inspiration for doing just that. (To read part one, head here, and to watch the accompanying Youtube video, head here).

Each compass rose can be totally unique, and there are lots of ways to embellish them (and lots of inspiration to be found! Check out my Pinterest board with compass rose inspiration here).



A sheet of sketched compass rose points with all different patterns and shading.
Decorative details on compass rose points

I'm going to give you three things to play with as you work on your own compass rose points:


The points really don't have to be straight, as long as they ultimately point the direction.

I've used the shapes of a dagger, an arrowhead and a dragon's tail to give some of my points a more unique look. I've also played with cutouts (I'm a bit obsessed with this look at the moment) to make the shape more impactful.

My tip is: if you have a specific map in mind, have a think about the way you want your map to feel. Point number three for example, looks a bit fiercer than some of the others. It has sharper points and harder edges, it looks a little like a harpoon. It feels a bit deadlier than say, example 7, which has some pretty, historical filigree.


You can draw inspiration from the natural world (as with points 10, 17, 20, 21 and 25), you can draw from antique maps and history (as with points 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9), you can draw from fantasy (as with point 11, which is based on a dragon's tail), or you can simply play and see what you come up with yourself. Either way, I always have a lot of fun with the points of my compass rose. And remember, there really aren't any mistakes in art!


I think the colour ones on this sheet are the least successful, but colour can look really, really cool. Make one side of the compass rose point darker than the other to suggest that it's 3d. Or play with negative space, or lighter or darker details, as with point 21. Have a look at pinterest to find exciting colour palettes. Or have a look at a colour palette website, for example Coolors.


Download the worksheet below to have a go yourself.

Download ZIP • 868KB

Don't forget to check out my YouTube channel and Pinterest boards for more map-related inspiration, and please show me what you've designed in the comments below (or email me to I'd really love to see.

Check out my other blogs in this series:

As always, thank you for reading!


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