If you’ve got a blank wall just itching for some decoration, or you’re an artist who’s been commissioned to recreate your creative vision on a much larger scale, you may be wondering how to make a mural. There are practical and artistic concerns to take into account when approaching mural making, and working your way through the process step by step will make sure you create the result you want, as well as save yourself time, effort and heartache.
In order to help you nail the planning and execution of your mural, we’ve created our easy-to-follow guide that suits any art style or surface.
How to make a mural – our step-by-step guide
No matter how you work as an artist, the sheer scale and practical demands required to make a mural last require planning ahead. You’ll need to consider your subject and surroundings, the colours you’ll use, the appropriate paint for the surface you have in mind, how to protect the piece, and how you’ll tackle the logistics of laying down both big sections and smaller details.
Ready to start the process of mural making? Let’s crack on!
1. Design and plan your mural
Whether it’s in a private dwelling, a business or a public space, there’s no real benefit in approaching a mural without a clear design and plan in mind. It will simply take too long and use up too many expensive materials to start freehanding with absolutely no end goal in mind. Not to mention the fact that you may have other stakeholders like a local council, business owner or project lead that will need to approve your design before painting can start.
Murals also don’t exist in a vacuum – they’re going to nestle in amongst other buildings, natural features, colours and the existing character of an area. To create a piece that feels ‘right’ for the space and artistically balanced, it’s a great idea to start working with detailed photos and plans of the area. If you work with digital drawing software, you can experiment by laying down a sketch and then dropping it into a photograph to see how your composition works in the space. If you like to work traditionally, having these photos and colour references on hand can still help guide you in terms of inspiration and overall harmonious balance. Your design can be rough, but having a vague sense of proportion, composition, and your colour scheme will make your work faster and more successful in the long run.
2. Choose the paints you’ll need to make the mural
Once you have your sketch and colour palette, you can move on to selecting the paints you’ll need. Because these are going to require large quantities of the medium, it’s often easier to choose pre-mixed colours that you know will give you a consistent result and that you won’t spend extra time trying to re-mix to the exact same proportions when you need more paint.
At Viponds, we carry a range of mural paints in a huge range of shades and also offer custom colour options so you can find the perfect hues ready to go out of the tin or the bottle. You can also select your paints for mural making according to their recommended surfaces (like brick, metal and concrete) and opt for fade resistant and weatherproof paints that are designed to last and look vibrant outside for years to come.
3. Clean the wall
With your supplies and design nailed down, it’s time to prepare your canvas. Depending on the type of surface you’re painting on, this might require pressure washing, scrubbing, sanding, or a combination of techniques. In general, you’re aiming to remove dirt, grime, and large areas of texture or roughness, which will make it hard to lay down your design.
4. Prime the surface
Once you’ve cleaned up the surface of your wall and prepped it to receive layers of paint, adding a primer is an essential step. Not only do primers make work easier in terms of laying down colours and spraying brushstrokes, but they also provide a stabilising effect that will avoid paint damage or unexpected reactions from materials on the surface that might not gel with the chemicals in your chosen paint.
Our range of primers is designed to provide the right texture that will help your paint easily apply and adhere and provide a smoother surface that’s easier to work with.
5. Choose your scaling method
To help you work at the larger scale required for a mural and to help you translate your design accurately, there are a number of scaling methods you can use. Grid or doodle scales provide a framework of either intersecting lines or patterns you can plot onto your sketch and your mural surface. By breaking down the whole composition into smaller sections, you can work to take your design up a scale, almost like a jigsaw puzzle where each segment of the final image is contained within that smaller space.
Other methods to scale up your design include using a projector which can help you map your outlines with accuracy, or using a pounce wheel, which allows you to transfer marks from a large paper pattern onto the surface of the mural.
6. Start painting!
Finally, the real fun begins! There are a number of ways to go about this, but there are a few popular methods. One way to make murals involves outlining with a black or dark colour, laying in large swathes of colour with a roller or large brush and then moving to detailing. Another approach is to reverse this – get in your big shapes and board colour scheme, then use outlines to define these details with more precision, taking breaks to get some distance back and check you’re happy with the overall composition.
7. Protect your mural making
Finally, once your masterpiece is complete, it’s essential to take steps to make sure it stands the test of time, the elements, and potential vandalism. A clear protective coat like Viponds Graffiti Coat adds a layer of protective clear gloss or shine which creates a barrier between your mural and any added graffiti, making removal and clean up easy. Plus, a finishing coat helps the paint to last and look vibrant for longer.