Introduction: Paint a Mural in a Child's Nursery

My wife and I are expecting a girl. She found a giraffe mural in a magazine that we decided to try. It turned out pretty good. This instructable documents how we did it. It requires what some might call basic art skills like tracing and painting in the lines. Supplies:

Picture of image to be painted on wall
Overhead transparency
Carboard box
Colored chalk
Paint brush 1.5 or 2 inches wide
Small paint brushes - the artsy kind
Wall (duh)

Step 1: Choose Image

My wife found this picture in a catalog. The photo is a picture of the catalog.

Step 2: Trace Image

Trace your chosen image onto an overhead transparency.

Step 3: Projection

I made a makeshift projector using a box, a lamp and some tape. Project the transparency onto the wall. I found that using a light bulb without the "frosting" on the inside made for a clearer picture.

Step 4: Trace Projection

Trace the projected image on the wall with chalk. I used pink chalk since white chalk didn't show up at all and the color I wanted to paint was pink. You can barely see the pink chalk in the attached photo. Looking at the photo I realize you can't see it all all. Take my word for it, there's a chalk outline of the mural.

Step 5: Paint

Now that that the picture is drawn on the wall in chalk, paint. Just don't go outside the lines. This is the hard part. It takes a steady hand and patience. When doing touch ups I found these two things made a world of difference: 1) Solid lines with smooth edges and 2) A solid coat that does not allow the background color through.

Step 6: Finish

Finish painting and when the paint dries, wipe the wall down lightly with a clean rag. This will remove the chalk left behind from before. Now step back and marvel at your artistry.


JessicaL67 made it!(author)2016-01-11

Libraries are wonderful!!! You can borrow lots of devices and equipment from libraries, many even lend out overhead projectors just for these types of things!

aconner2 made it!(author)2016-01-06

Thank You!!! We are moving and I was trying to figure out how to project the mural on the wall since I don't have an overhead projector. THANKS! :-)

JustasS made it!(author)2015-12-30

Thanks for such clear instructions and equally useful photos about

wall mural. I bought some of these from:

Junk2jewels made it!(author)2015-06-29

Awesome way to do a mural and save a bundle on a projector! Thank you so much for sharing!! I'm ready to try this!! Adorable wall you guys did too!

mexicansunrise made it!(author)2015-04-14

Thanks for such clear instructions and equally useful photos. I searched other sites but they were nowhere near as good as this instructable!

Andertoonz made it!(author)2014-11-09

brilliant! Thanks for the projector hack, works perfectly... and for the torch i discovered an iPhone light is an LED and works perfectly!! No need to spend money on a torch or lightbulb! :-D

Teresa+Emrich made it!(author)2014-10-27

This is a wonderful "pin". I am a retired teacher, used overhead projectors hundreds of times, but NEVER knew I could build my own. Thank you…we are expecting grand babies in March & May, so this has my "teacher" brain at work.

dana+leigh made it!(author)2013-04-06


mmelville3 made it!(author)2013-04-07

There have been many questions about the projector. Some are having trouble with it. The projector is shown in step three with the image projected on the wall. I just tried this again using a transparency and a single LED flashlight with the lense/head removed so the small bulb was exposed. The image was very crisp from across the room.

amg101080 made it!(author)2013-03-05

I've tried and failed. I used a sheet protector to trace the image on, made my box, and used a halogen desk lamp. The only time the image appears is when the posterboard I'm drawing on is 2 inches from the front of the box. Tracing paper didn't work at all. Has anyone else figured out any troubleshooting pointers?

Kbm123 made it!(author)2013-02-12

I am trying this right now and cannot get the image to show on the wall

amiii101 made it!(author)2012-10-10

How do you make a makeshift projector?

sleeder made it!(author)2011-11-13

Any good tips to make transparencies???

salbers1 made it!(author)2012-08-20

You can take any image to one of the office supply chain stores or a copy shop and they will make one for you. Its fairly inexpensive.. If you want just outlines, then as far as I know, you'll have to make that yourself as suggested.

cherokee_dreamer3 made it!(author)2012-08-20

TIP: Depending on what you are looking for, GOOGLE your image, look for "cutouts" or "color pages" print them out, you can copy/paste multiple images on one sheet of paper to make your transparencies. Nine times out of ten, you can find just the outlined images.... :)

cherokee_dreamer3 made it!(author)2012-08-20

When I would prepare the nursery at church for VBS or "just because" I would always make my transparencies. I would copy my images to regular copy paper, then I would take my blank transparencies, run them through my copier like I would the paper....PERFECT transparencies every time, no need to trace or strive for perfection. One year the theme was about "Underwater" and being that I had 4-5 year olds, I needed to bring it down to their level which ended up with "Nemo" I have to say, the kids and I were thrilled with the finished product and I had many many compliments.... :)
** I would like to stress using the thicker transparencies rather than the thin ones. The thinner ones will come out somewhat "melted" making the image blurred. Its worth investing extra pennies....! Also make sure you use the right side, but if you don't, they still work....!

cligmercurio made it!(author)2012-03-14

I realize this is an old post but if anyone could please help me my projector is not working I have no idea how to make this thing i put the box on the lamp and the picture in front and its not projecting at all the only time it shows up is when I put the picture really close to the wall please help I want it nice and big on my kids wall thanks so much!!!!

mmelville3 made it!(author)2012-03-15

I think I had that problem at first using a soft light bulb. I found a bare bulb helped make a clearer picture. Then I lined up the filament in the bulb so it was perpendicular with the plane of the transparency. I would guess the closest thing to a single point of light would be best. Maybe a flashlight with the lens removed would work better?

Elaina74 made it!(author)2012-02-01

Hmmm looks like my baby might get some palm trees and monkeys on his wall after all, thank you!!! The projector is brilliant!!!

Fader4D8 made it!(author)2012-01-24

NICe! This is just what I was looking for. Well done. Especially the DIY projector because I was saying to myself "really do I have to find an overhead projector?"


jscott31 made it!(author)2011-12-11

I used a page protector from a binder and drew the image on with permanent marker. Now I just need to find a box....

jbrecken made it!(author)2011-11-17

Looks like Mama Giraffe had twin babies. Isn't it tempting fate to paint that on the nursery wall when you think you're only expecting one?

tmoose made it!(author)2011-11-14

For transparencies I would suggest using permanent marker on laminating paper or maybe wax paper? I'm not sure how wax paper would work but I know laminating paper would work well.

zeechan made it!(author)2010-05-27

I would have never thought of making a projector like that! Thanks for the idea. Makes it so much easier to trace on the walls to paint now. ;)

Tamdort made it!(author)2010-05-09

I like your projector idea,I was thinking to buy on.

porcupinemamma made it!(author)2009-08-07

really groovy-no "cookie cutter" looking mural...sweet!

PeckLauros made it!(author)2009-04-01

I just like that!!!!

Chico made it!(author)2009-01-23

Yes! Kudos on the projector! For my instructable I found an old-fashioned overhead projector at the MIT flea-market for $25 and then sold it on craigslist when I was done. But yours is quick-and-dirty, cheap, and perfectly adequate for the job! Congratulations!

mmelville3 made it!(author)2009-01-22

I had no idea the projector would steal the show! Thanks for your comments.

misemono made it!(author)2009-01-22

The Makeshift projector is really what makes this a great instructable. With little,to no, technical knowledge, this is an incredibly easy, yet professional looking decoration idea. I think it should be given an award due to it's simplicity.

jeff-o made it!(author)2009-01-22

Nice work with the projection box! A halogen spotlight would also produce a nice, crisp image. The most useful place to find one is in a halogen desk lamp.

Swishercutter made it!(author)2009-01-21

Instead of tracing the pic you can have it printed onto the transparency if you wanted, of course it's the lazy method.

Swishercutter made it!(author)2009-01-21

The projector is great....I was going to do this with a digital projector with some pics from my computer but I didn't get around to buying the digital projector so.......

Weissensteinburg made it!(author)2009-01-20

I like that a lot =]

sgsidekick made it!(author)2009-01-20

I LOVE the makeshift projector! Who needs to spend $35-$55 for one when a pizza box and bare bulb will work! That is also a nice job on the mural. Baby Girl is sure to love it!

canida made it!(author)2009-01-20

Looks great! And the projector hack is awesome - who has a real overhead projector anymore?

mg0930mg made it!(author)2009-01-20

Very cool. I would do a peter pan one, myself. I don't know what I would do, though. I don't have an overhead.

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