Mural painting process

Ever wanted to take on the exciting / daunting project of painting a mural? Me too! Know how to do it? Nope, neither did I… But after a bit of research and a lot of winging it, I did it! It may have taken a week of slaving away at the wall, some stiff muscles (oh, just you wait…) and a lot of patience, but now we have a cool personalised wall in our office space to stare at while tinkering away at the computer.

Materials: What you’ll need

  1. Paint colours: I chose 4 x Dulux interior low sheen colours in 250ml sample pots ($8 each with free tinting)
  2. 500ml white low sheen: for mixing lighter tints of each colour
  3. Tube of artist-quality acrylic paint: for outlines and details
  4. Painter’s tape: for masking off edges and painting straight lines
  5. Paint brushes: in a variety of sizes for large and detailed areas
  6. Plastic tubs with lids: for mixing/containing different colour tints
  7. Pencil + eraser: drawing grids and outlines
  8. Rulers + measuring tapes: for the fun maths-ing task of grid calculations. But next time I would definitely rather try the chalk line method
  9. Ladder: it is your best friend. Get acquainted
  10. Plastic drop sheet: unless you’d like paint all over your floors and skirting boards

Process: How to do it

1. Concept:
First decide what you want your mural to be of. Mine was inspired by our dog, Pippa and the cover artwork of Lofi hip hop mix – Beats to Relax/Study to. In retrospect, I’d definitely advise going for something simple and with not too many straight lines – they’re a monster, and require a lot of tape and patience.

2. Choosing your colours:
You’ll want to design your artwork around colours closest to the actual paints you’ll be using. I chose to go with Dulux interior paints, so with my colour palette in mind I went onto the Dulux website and screenshotted the swatches that matched what I wanted, pasted them into Photoshop and used the eyedropper tool to create my digital colour palette to work from.

I then took the names and codes e.g. Very Cherry A40.1 to the hardware store, found the actual paint sample cards from the rack of second-guessing-your-colour-choices then at the paint counter asked for the colours to be mixed in 250ml sample pots. They only tint 1l tins or larger, which is quite pricey so by getting the sample pots made you save on money and avoid wasting paint. I got two pots of my two main colours mixed, and by the end of the mural I still had paint left over.

3. Wall prep, grid + outlines
Prep your walls – sand and wash them, prime if necessary. Tape off the skirting boards and edges of the wall.
Create a grid – both digitally and then on the wall in correct proportion, i.e. measure, measure, measure. I created my Photoshop document to the same dimensions of the wall, then divided it up into a grid. Transfer that grid onto the wall. Print out your design with the grids on it for reference then start drawing in the main components, square by square on to the wall. Continue.

4. Paint: 1st + 2nd coat
I went into this thinking that I’d have a marvellous painted finish with just one coat. So wrong. Much like painting a solid wall, it’s going to need at least two coats. Yes, that means painting all those little details I warned you about earlier… twice!

5. Paint: Outlines
If you’ve made it this far, then the worst is over and it’s time to transform the [still] ugly duckling into its full potential. Get a good small fine art quality brush for this. I had originally planned to use my darkest Dulux tone for outlines but quickly found out that that was not going to work. It lacked the darkness, quality and “run” I needed. So I found an artist-quality tube of acrylic (about $11) from the art shop in Mars Violet – a rich dark red-black tone. Perfect colour and final coverage – so only one layer did the trick.

A week later, and voila! DONE!

To watch the mural painting happening at lightening speed over a couple of days…

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