How to make a paper compass rose

Updated April 17, 2017

Whether you have a school project or you just enjoy paper crafts, making a compass rose out of paper is relatively simple. According to, the compass rose has been printed on maps since the 1300s. Although compass roses can involve varying levels of design complexity, the primary requirements for a compass rose are four larger points in a cross for the major directions of north, south, east and west, and four smaller points for northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest. The radiating points of a compass rose resemble flower petals, inspiring the name.

Cut the card stock into a square using a straight edge and your craft knife. Use a ruler to measure and lightly mark the halfway point on each side of the square. Use a pencil and your ruler to draw faint, easily erasable vertical and horizontal lines from the halfway points, forming a crossed intersection in the exact centre of the cardstock. Repeat the process to draw diagonal lines across the card stock from each of the corners. Your sheet should now have eight radial lines intersecting at the same point in the centre of the paper.

Set the point of your geometry compass in the centre of the card stock and draw a circle at least 10 cm (4 inches) in diameter. Along the circle you just made, measure the centre point between each of the radial lines and mark the spot on the edge of the circle. These marks will represent one side of the base of each of the stylised radial triangles that will make up the directional points of your compass rose.

Decide how long you want the main directional points (north, south, east and west) of the compass to be. Mark the length on each vertical and horizontal line. Repeat the process for the diagonal points (northeast, northwest, etc.), but make each mark approximately 2.5 cm (1 inch) shorter than the main points.

Line up your ruler from the radial line length measurement you just made to the centre measurement mark you made along the edge of the centre circle. Repeat on the other side of the line to create a compass point triangle. Continue connecting your measurement lines in this manner, forming all the main point triangles first and then the secondary point triangles, until you have triangular outlines for all of your compass points. Erase the extra lines and measurement marks from around the compass rose.

Cut the construction paper pieces to size to glue to the card stock. Compass points were separated into two different colours to improve visibility when consulting maps by candlelight or on choppy seas. You will need two main point-length triangles cut in half vertically -- forming four half triangles for one side of each of the main compass points -- and two similarly cut secondary point-length triangles in the same colour -- forming four shorter half triangles for one side of each of the secondary compass points, plus an equal number of half triangles for the facing sides of each point in a second colour.

Draw a large, stylised "N" to represent "North" above the top vertical compass point.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 sheet card stock
  • Ruler
  • Craft knife
  • Pencil
  • Geometry compass
  • Eraser
  • 4 sheets each of two colours construction paper
  • Scissors
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About the Author

Melissa Hopkins began writing for the Southern Illinois University newspaper in 2000, where she won several awards. After completing her Bachelor of Arts in English from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, Hopkins moved to San Diego, where she worked as a stringer for various publications with the Pomerado Newspaper Group.