I'm in the process of designing an old map (18th or 19th century) and I would like it to look worn out. But then I was wondering where it should be more damaged. I would prefer to avoid damaging the map randomly. The map would be folded, so I expect to have signs of wear (cracks) where it folds.

Where here else should the map be damaged?

More information:

  • It was used as a reference document, probably in a library.
  • It was not burned or affected by water, except for ambient humidity.
  • The copy I'm making is made in Photoshop.

Examples, even if it's not a map:

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Related question on RPG.SE: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/47859/… $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 8, 2015 at 21:59
  • $\begingroup$ There are several in collections such as this - bl.uk/reshelp/findhelprestype/webres/scanned - but the survivors will tend to be ones which wheren't treated so badly. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 8, 2015 at 22:06
  • $\begingroup$ I tend to draw mine by hand, then cook them in the oven for a while, on a tray. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 9, 2015 at 22:21
  • $\begingroup$ Are you trying to make a physical map or a digital one? $\endgroup$
    – James
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 18:01
  • $\begingroup$ @James Its digital. $\endgroup$
    – Vincent
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 18:37

2 Answers 2


I'd expect most damage

  • At the borders: Damage mostly of the paper.
  • At the folding lines: Damage both of the paper and of the ink.
  • At places where you're likely to hold (maybe just take a paper of an appropriate size, hold it as if you were studying it, and watch where you touch it): Damage of the ink (basically the ink getting weaker, possibly blurred or even locally removed due to finger sweat).
  • At places of special interest: Damage of the ink (because people often go with their fingers over the map at those places).

Moreover, the ink itself may not be very stable; if the map uses different colours, the different inks may have different resistance to sweat, as well as different stability over time. So a particular colour may be almost invisible while another colour is still very good preserved.

  • $\begingroup$ The good news is that you found the map to the Fountain of Youth, the bad news is that Fountain of Youth, and all the important landmarks and labels have been rubbed away because of all the people who kept pointing at them... so Florida, you found a map of Florida. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Commented Dec 29, 2021 at 22:15

To get a damaged map you only need to damage a map, and a realistic fast damaging process is possible.

  1. Print a map with not very resistant ink on a not very resistant support. Plain office paper and an inkjet printer would be fine.
  2. Fold the map so it could fit in your trouser's pocket.
  3. Go for a walk. Take out the map often, look at it, fold it and put in your pocket again.

The worse the time the better - since inkjet ink is usually water soluble, a wet day or even a light rain may be helpful.

In a very short time you will get a map that looks very old.

Source: Since online maps became good enough for hiking and until I get my smartphone, I used to print maps on paper and go hiking with them, and after a few uses their state became quite deplorable. Professionally printed (and better handled) maps aged a lot slower.


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