How I make the Nautical Watercolor Charts

These charts are high-quality reproductions of a hand-painted watercolor. Here’s how I make the charts.

Masking the Landforms before painting the water. 


Here’s a 90-second, fast-motion video of me painting the water


With the ocean painted
With the landforms painted



I hope you get to enjoy one on your wall sometime.  It’s a great way to tell stories about your adventures, and with the customizations available, you will love it.


R Perkins Signature

I take a digital NOAA nautical chart and project it on a large sheet of french-made watercolor paper. I carefully trace the landforms,  some of the depth contours, and latitude and longitude lines onto the watercolor paper.

Next I paint the chart with high-quality watercolors.  I paint the water first, after I mask out the landforms with a wax so no paint goes on this part of the chart. I paint deeper hues of blue where the depths are greater; conversely, the lighter hues of blue are the shallower areas. Once the blue paint dries, I remove the mask and paint the landforms.

At this point, I take the original artwork and have a professional photographer take a super-high-resolution photo of it.  I import the digital photo into the computer.   Using professional graphic design software, I add the placenames, and latitude and longitude lines.

I paint the compass rose on a separate sheet of watercolor paper, scan it and bring it into the chart separately so I can move it to the most appropriate place.

If I am adding a boat or fish to the chart, I take the digital image, and add it as a layer to the digital image, and apply a series of filters to it using photoshop.

Finally I add any extra text information to the chart that my client may want.

The print is made from this digital file.  Each one is thus a customized monoprint, printed on archival watercolor paper.