I love the concept of scratch off maps because I love the checklist aspect. There's just something about being able to look at the map and realize that you've been to all those places that seems so inspiring to me. And if you look at my map, there are so many places left to go! I can't wait to scratch off different states with my family.
2 Identical Maps
Graphite Pencil (2b works well)
Washi or Painter's Tape
Step One: Print your maps.
I went online and found a free map of the United States then printed two copies. It's important that these maps are exactly the same so make sure to print two right away!
Step Two: Paint your map.
I chose to use watercolors to paint the map. I really wanted to create a rainbow effect, and I knew I would be able to see through the finished result. I had printed my maps on thin paper, which worked okay, but putting it on an actual watercolor paper would have has a much smoother finished product.
This is the step where you can get creative. I've seen really pretty versions of this that are gold underneath, and it would be super easy to modify this tutorial and substitute gold paint for the watercolors. You could also put in pictures, doodle on all the states, the possibilities are kind of limitless!
Step Three: Put on the contact paper.
Contact paper is a beast to use, but a little patience will go a long way. While you are waiting for the paint to dry, cut the paper to be a tad bit bigger than the actual map. Now slowly peel the contact paper off, and lay it on your table sticky side up. Carefully place the map so the colorful side is down, sticking to the contact paper. Flip it over and use a straight edge (like a credit card) to smooth out all the creases and bubbles.
Step Four: Coloring time!
This step will see a bit tedious, but it is key if you want to be able to easily scratch off your map. Basically, anywhere you cover with wax will make it a hundred times easier to scratch off the paint. So try to color the whole map, staying in the lines as much as possible.
Step Five: Paint.
Now it's time to paint over everything you just did. This is kind of scary to do, I'm not going to lie, but the end result is worth it! Try to paint close to the edges, but make sure you can still see where the paper ends. You're going to need to be able to line it up with your second map. This step should take about two coats. If you paint isn't working with you, try to add a bit of water.
I used black paint because I like the idea of a bold contrast, but any color should work as long as you pick the right paint and paint enough layers that you can't see the map underneath.
Step Six: Make your second map into tracing paper.
This is a trick I've used since high school when I've wanted to transfer lines to a new sheet of paper. While your paint is drying, flip your second map upside down and use a graphite pencil to heavily color over where the lines are on the other side. As you can see by the picture, you want to make sure you have a thick line. You'll be transferring this graphite directly onto your scratch off map.
Step Seven: Line it up.
Once your painted map is completely dry (about an hour should do it) use washi tape or painter's tape to tape the map you made into tracing paper directly above the painted map. Make sure your corners match as exactly as you can make them line up. You can't actually see the map you're tracing onto, so this little attention to detail is super important
Step Eight: Transfer.
Now it's time to trace those lines! Use a pen or pencil to directly trace around the lines of your map. If you did step six right, the graphite on the underside of the map should transfer, and you should be able to pull the map you are tracing up a bit and see lines beneath it. When you pull the map up, try to leave on as much tape as possible so your papers don't shift. Leave the tape on until you've transferred every single line. If you pull it up and find that you've missed a spot, you can use a pencil to draw the missing line.
Step Nine: Trim and frame.
Measure out the size of the map you want (I printed my map one 8.5x11 paper, but wanted an 8x10 map), and trim it. scratch off the places you've been to and put it in a frame! I had to put mine behind glass because, as you can see, it's a little wrinkly.
That's it! You're all done! Now it's time to get travelin so you can scratch off more of that map!