Crafts, DIY Gifts, DIY Projects

Marauder’s Map Birthday Card

Hello everyone! I’m very excited to share something extra special with you today.

If you don’t yet know, I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan. I grew up reading the books, have re-read them many times, threw a Harry Potter themed party in high school, made a diy costume of Fleur Delacour for Halloween… you get the idea.

Anyway, my boyfriend had never read the books when I met him. He showed absolutely no interest in them ūüôĀ . But after three years, he finally decided to give them a read and he is loving them! He had his 27th birthday over the summer, just as he was finishing up Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

For those of you who’ve read the book (or watched the movie) you know that there is a very important map, called the Marauder’s Map, which falls into Harry’s possession in this book. I modeled my boyfriend’s birthday card after this map, and the results were amazing!

So here I am with a step-by-step tutorial, so you can make one for the Harry Potter fan in your life! (I know I will definitely be making more of these, my little brother has already put in a request for one for his next birthday).

Step 0: Gather Materials

For this project I used:

  • 1 sheet beige cardstock
  • 1 fine tip black pen
  • pencil / eraser

Step 1: Divide the Paper

I began by laying the card stock landscape, and folding in both edges to the middle. Take your time doing this, because if you are going to put this much work into a birthday card, you will want the folds to be as straight as possible.

Once you’ve nicely folded the paper, it should be half of its original size, with two flaps on the front. Now we want to divide the paper in pencil, so when we start actually drawing things, everything keeps to their correct proportions.

Grab a ruler and a pencil and make the following lines on the front of the card (Remember to press lightly! These are guidelines and will need to be erased later). Draw all lines horizontally across the card.

  • Draw a line dividing the paper in half
  • On each half of this line, divide the sections in half. This divides the paper into quarters
  • Divide the top three quarters in half

Check out the sketch I drew below for an idea of what sections we just divided the card into, so you can make adjustments now if you want to.

Step 2: The Title Banner

Now we can get right into the fun stuff! Take a look at the very top-most section of the page. This is where we will begin with the ribbon banner that decorates the top of the Marauder’s Map.

Begin by drawing two curved boxes for the words. Alter the size depending on the message you want in here. In the original Marauder’s map there is some Latin here, but (seeing as I don’t speak Latin) I decided to put something more personal in there.

Next sketch in the ribbons. Have some fun with this! The Marauder’s Map was supposed to have been drawn by four 15-year-old boys, it does not have to be perfect! I based mine off the original map, but there definitely ended up being some big differences. Does it really make a difference? Of course not! So have some fun, and don’t get too fussy over the exact placement of the ribbons.

Once you have this grab your fine tip black pen. I used a black Liquid Gel pen from Pentel, you can get it here. Whatever you use, just make sure that it glides on smoothly, and appears very dark. It will make the card making experience so much easier for you, and will make your finished card frame-worthy!

With this pen, trace over the pencil. Add some shading to the ribbons (again, it doesn’t have to be perfect!). Shading is important here, because not only does it give the ribbons a realistic effect, it will greatly affect the unity of the finished card. Later we will use more shading, and it looks lovely if everything is shaded similarly.

For my shading I used simple hashing.

After the shading is complete, add in your chosen words. I opted to replace the original Latin words with the month of my boyfriend’s birthday and the current year. He thought this was really neat. Feel free to customize with any words you like!

Now it’s time to add in those oh so important words “Messrs Mooney Wormtail Padfoot and Prongs are proud to present”. Any fan of Harry Potter will recognize those words as essential for any Marauder’s Map. Of course you may alter this (as I have done) to make it fit your needs. I opted to change “Mooney” to “Mary” which seemed like a fitting change. I also changed “are proud to present” to “are proud to wish you” because later I changed “Marauder’s Map” to “Happy Birthday”. Then my card reads “Messrs Mary Wormtail Padfoot and Prongs are proud to wish you Happy Birthday” which was close enough to the original to be recognized, but was customized enough that it made a very cute birthday card.

I discovered a trick for the lettering too. At first I was worried that all of this work would be for nothing, because how in the world was I to print like a computer?

But then I realized that if you write out capital letters, you can quite easily make them look very professional, with a serif and everything! Just by adding some small lines on all of the edges. After a bit of practice I was able to produce the following effect.

That’s it for the top third of the card! Whew, that was a lot of work! You’ll probably take a little break, but be sure to come back to finish up!

Step 3: The Castle

Now turn your attention to the center of the page. The castle should occupy the four sections around the middle.

As with the banner, we begin with a sketch. Remember that this isn’t your finished product, and does not have to be perfect. It’s just guidelines for when you come back and draw it for real in pen.

Begin by making two dots with your pencil, equal distance from the centre of the page on the middle horizontal line. Make two more dots, one in the centre of the page (on top of the opening) on the horizontal line just above the middle. Draw the other dot just below the horizontal line that is just under the middle line. Connect these four dots to make a square.

Draw another dot on the horizontal line that is two below the middle. Now draw two vertical lines extending down from the right and left vertices of the square. Draw two diagonal lines from the most recent dot at 45 degree angles, so they are parallel to the bottom two edges of the square.

When you’ve accomplished all of this, you should have a box that looks like this:


This will be the base of your Hogwarts Castle. Continue by drawing a smaller square inside the larger one, keeping an equal distance around all edges. This will be the top of the outer wall, so keep it close to the original square.

Once you’ve done that, you can start personalizing Hogwarts with some towers and turrets! Again, this could change when you make your good copy, so just a brief sketch is needed. The important thing is to get the dimensions right.

Now it’s time to make Hogwarts permanent. Grab that black pen and trace over your towers. Feel free to add extra details to make it unique. Once your towers are complete, draw in the outer walls. Make sure that you do this after¬†the towers are drawn, to ensure that the back towers appear in front of the walls.

Remember how I told you that shading was important when we were doing the ribbon earlier? Well here is the proof!

Add shading to Hogwarts using hashing. To do this properly, keep in mind where your light source is coming from (in my case, it was off to the left of the page). Imagine your light source shining on the castle, and shade any areas that would not be directly hit.

Step 4: The Black Lake

Two-thirds done, one third to go!

The Black Lake is probably the easiest part of the card, and it was also very fun to make!

Begin by drawing a big squiggly lake in the bottom two sections of the card. Draw lines going up to the doors of the castle, representing paths.

Now reach for your black pen and begin writing minuscule words along the paths from Hogwarts down to the lake. Proceed to fill up the entire lake with words.

There are a couple of ways to go about this. The original Marauder’s Map used Latin words. Alternatively you could fill the space with random letters. I think I have the best solution though. I filled the space with words that meant something to me and my boyfriend. I used things like “HAPPYBIRTHDAY” and “ILOVEYOU”, I even threw in “TOOTHLESS” after the dragon from the movie How to Train Your Dragon.¬†I recommend that you make it your own! My boyfriend loved pouring over the card trying to decipher all of the hidden messages.

When doing this, remember to write in all capital letters, and do not add spaces between words. The goal is to have all of the letters merge together into one Black Sea at the end.

Step 5: Finishing Up and Finished Product

Allow the pen ink ample time to dry. Then grab a good eraser, and get rid of all of those pencil marks from before.

Now you may want to go back over the card and add extra details. The first thing I did upon finishing was add a Whomping Willow beside Hogwarts. I used the same word effect as the Black Lake to accomplish this.

Then I added the words “Happy Birthday” to the middle of Hogwarts. On the original map, this spot was used for the words “The Marauder’s Map”, and you could leave it as so. But as I was using this card as a Birthday card, I thought it seemed fitting to greet the reader with a loud “HAPPY BIRTHDAY”. (I thought about writing “Happy Birthdae”, but didn’t think my boyfriend would get the obscure Harry Potter reference. He’s not there yet, maybe next year ūüėČ )

And then you are done! All of that hard work has most certainly paid off. You now have a¬†gorgeous handmade¬†birthday card, that’s good enough to be framed!


If you want to check out how I delivered this card by owl post, and how I designed footprints for the inside of the card, be sure to subscribe and check out my next couple of blog posts!

Happy Crafting!

~ Mary



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