Painting Murals: A Simple How-To Guide

Michael Daly
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Step 1: Getting Started With Your Mural

The first step of decorating with a mural is to consider the size of the wall, the amount of space it has for the mural. After this, you can determine the flow of your design.

The space above any door, window, or wall in the walkways is the best place to put something that runs across the wall.

There are a number of items that you will need when it comes to murals. The most important of these is a ruler.

You can use a straight edge ruler and pencils to draw the design. Other items that you may consider include;

  • Masking tape: This is used to mask the surrounding area even before you start drawing. It helps in keeping the colors in check and also reduces the chances of unwanted smears or spills released from the paintbrush.
  • Painter’s tape: This masking tape is used for covering areas that are close to the wall or for those that are likely to be touched often. A good example of this is the light switches, or the wires that extend out from a fan. You should make sure that they are completely masked to ensure that they are kept safe.
  • A paint roller: They are used for smooth and even coverage. For some people, they speed up the painting process.

Step 2: Common Artist Tools Used When Making Murals

If you are looking to create a mural you are not alone and there is a lot of inspiration out there for you to be able to do so.

There are many tools which are used by artists while creating murals. Some of the most commonly used tools can include:

Tape Measure: Used to help keep an accurate canvas size or to check the distance from the wall to the subject up on the wall. Most tape measures nowadays have magnetic ends and are retractable, which makes them easy to take around with you and is very convenient.

Rulers: These can be used for lots of different reasons. Some artists like to use a ruler to make sure there are even lines or even areas of colour. They can also be used to keep a straight line between two points when you are drawing something.

Masking tape: This type of tape is used to mark off or protect certain areas of the wall from the spray paint or other materials you are using. It’s a good idea to use masking tape if you are going to paint with colours that are close to each other.

Mosaic trowels: Picasso is a very good example of an artist who loved to use mosaic trowels to create dots or more intricate looking work. You can purchase these in craft stores and online, just be sure to check measurements before purchasing!

Step 3: Preparing Your Mural

PREP the area!

“Be careful of what you wish for.”

If you want the best results, you must prepare the painting area properly. Remove small pieces from around the edges and clean up any dust on the mural.

PREPARE the surface.

You can use a primer to seal the surface. This will help prevent the paint from lifting off.

Dilute the water-based primer you use with 1 cup white vinegar for an extra layer of protection.

Don’t let paint from your base coat touch areas you haven’t painted yet. This can cause lifting off over time if you leave paint undiluted.

A drop cloth will ensure that paint is not going anywhere. Also your materials will not be ruined by paint drips.

I use the same dropcloth that I spray paint on. The spray paint won’t rot the drop cloth.

Prime the mural, clouds, or intricate details. This will help them look better and last longer.

Step 4: Color Blocking A Mural Is Key

Color blocking is the act of creating large colored areas of color. A mural being the perfect place to practice this critical painting skill.

Why is color blocking important to painting murals?

Because it allows us to choose what is most important in any given painting and place that color in the largest area of the mural.

Let’s take the example of a cityscape, in which you might want to create a nice sunset in order to mimic a travelling experience.

Your two most important elements of that scene would be the skyline and the sunset. Since sunset is the glowing sun in your painting, you would place a large area of color in the center of the painting. Now you have placed the most important element in the largest area of your painting while creating things like buildings and trees in a smaller area. Which brings us to the next tip.

Step 5: Adding Details To Your Mural

Be sure that the surface is extremely smooth and that it has been properly primed and dry before starting to apply this last step.

Place a drop cloth on the floor as there will be more open paint to clean up at the end.

Add the fine details by hand with a brush or use any tool you wish, such as a stencil, stencil brush, or squeegee. If you are stenciling some sort of writing, add a small pale sponge and some white or gray paint to a small dish and dip the sponge into the paint. Apply the paint through the sponge to create smaller letters that are more detailed.

The last step in the mural process is to go over the entire mural with a fine-grade sandpaper.

Step 6: Finishing Touches For Your Mural

Finally, comes the part of the project of which you always have a choice.

Painting a mural can be completed in a variety of manners, and sometimes its design and styles are dictated by the surface on which it is being painted.

Consider how you want to use the mural, or if want to use it at all. You might paint the mural simply as a decorative piece on a wall or on wood for a design that complements your home décor. You can also paint it on a wall as a tribute to a friend, or paint it on a canvas or scrolls as a gift.

In this step, choose what kind of finish you like your mural to have.

Do you want it to be on the rough side with a lot of texture, or do you want it smooth and pretty?

If you want it on the rough side, consider using darker colors and wiping off some paint with a rag or a credit card to expose the ground color. To smooth it out, make sure you smooth the texture out before your color layers are dry.

Paint lightly from one end to the other when you paint with a roller and, when you spray the paint, use the power of the spray to even the texture instead of using a rolling brush.

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When you’re painting a mural, or even planning to paint one, the first thing you have to decide is what kind of surface you will be painting on.

Once you’ve decided on that, there are a few basic paint supplies you should add to your painting tools.

For a step by step guide, take a look at the following infographic.