Introduction: How to Transform Any Picture in a Paint

For a while I wanted to paint a mural on the wall of my room but I am not very good at drawing, I found incredible images that gave me ideas to capture on the wall, but when I passed them to a larger format they were very different.

This is why I looked for a way to pass an image to scale and make a great mural that I would enjoy. This tecnique was used for several great painters like Antonio Lopez, Edgar Degas, Rafael Sanzio, etc.

In this instructable you will learn to pass images to scale from a small format to a large format (you can also pass images to smaller formats) and make beautiful works of art using as an example a canvas. I hope you like it.


You need:

  1. A canvas (in this case you can use a wall, or a paper, or any superfice that you want)
  2. Ruler
  3. Pencil
  4. Eraser
  5. Brushes*
  6. Oil paint*
  7. Turpentine essence or any oil solvent*
  8. Paper or cloth towel
  9. Mixing paddle
  10. A photograph or illustration

Note*: The right material depends on each surface and the final size of the paint.

For example: if you want to make a 3x3 meter mural,you surely need to use large brushes and rollers; also need another type of paint, such as acrylic or spray paint. In the case of a small drawing on paper, you could use colored pencils or watercolors.

The final result depends on your creativity in the materials you decide to use.

Step 1: Choose Your Picture

First you must look for the image you want to capture, it can be a photograph of the internet or yours, it can be an illustration or even a collage of images. The important thing is that they are in the same document.

In this example, I took a Photo by Jessica Felicio on Unsplash.

Step 2: Make the Grid

To make the grid you have a world of possibilities, it all depends on whether you have the image in physical or digital.

It is easier if you have the digital image but I will explain both ways.

  • Physical

In case you have the physical image, I recommend using parchment paper, butter paper or transparent acetate. Position the paper or acetate on top of the image you want to copy and copy the margin of the image.

Divide the shortest side of the image margin into the number of frames you consider relevant can be 8, 10, 16, etc. For example if it measures 50cm you can divide it into 10, getting 10 squares of 5cm2.

When you have a measurement, determine half of the longest side and start measuring the same measurement from the middle, no matter if the grid does not fit perfectly you can do it the same when you are doing it on the paint surface. For example, if the other side measures 60cm, it starts from the middle, that is, 30cm, and is measuring 5cm to the left and then to the right, that will result in 12 divisions.

  • Digital

In case that you have a digital image, you can easily create a grid using any photo editing program or illustrations, such as autodesk, photoshop, adobe illustrator, etc.

To do this, open the document in any of these programs and select the make a grid option. modify the size of the squares until the grid fits the margin of your picture.

The number of frames on your grid can vary as you wish, however you should keep in mind that a grid with more frames will be more difficult to copy and more confusing when locating the lines, but it will allow you to copy more accurately the image.

Step 3: Copy the Grid

To copy the grid you must adapt the surface to the measurements of your model image.

For this you must save the ratio of the width and length measurements of the images in your image.

Therefore, if you have an image of 30x30cm, when you move it, the paint surface must have the same relationship.
If the image is the same in width and height, the only thing you need to worry about is that the grid space you are going to pass is the same in width and length. Therefore if you have an image of 30x30cm, when you move it the surface must have the same relationship. It can be 50x50cm or 3x3m the important thing is that they have the same measure.

In the example we took an image that met these characteristics, however the canvas was not square (40x50cm). In this case it is important to remember that you cannot modify the relationship between the measurements of the model image, because you will alter the figure and it will be elongated or flattened. So the solution is only take a square area of 40x40cm and move the grid there. you will have a space without image but as you will notice the void you can fill it easily.

If, on the contrary, theimage does not have a square margin but a rectangular margin, you must comply with the same relationship rule.
For example if you have an image of 5x7 cm2 and you have an area of 3x3 m2. The proper way to transfer the grid is by dividing the width by the height, in this example it would be 5/7 = 0.7. Then because the paint is taller than long, you must maintain the length of the paint surface (3m) and you must find the width necessary to maintain the relationship. Width = 0.7 * 3 = 2.1m, therefore the width in this case of the margin should be 2.1 meters. In the case that it is 7x5 cm2, the width is longer than the height and therefore must be maintained at 3m, the operation to find the height is: 7/5 = 1.4 therefore the Height = 3 / 1.4 = 2.1 meters .

Step 4: Copy the Principal Lines

Now that you have the grid you can start transferring the lines of the image it is important that you try to trace every detail of the image if it is a landscape or if it is a portrait it is important that you pay attention to the details. Trace each limit of all the shapes that appear in the figure.

Step 5: Copy the Shadow Lines

This step is optional, if you have a figure with many light changes as it would be, a portrait also tries to trace - it may be in another layer - the darkest and lightest areas, this will allow you to better position the colors when you start painting.

Step 6: Translate the Picture

Pass the main lines frame by frame, the easiest way is to locate in one of the corners and copy each frame according to the order of the line. It is important that you identify the point where the grid box connects to the main line and try to reproduce it in the same way on the canvas.

Continue to copy all the main lines, if you made shadow lieans you can also copy them or just have them as a guide for painting.

Step 7: Start Painting

It is important to plan first what colors you want to use in your painting.

You can decide to copy the colors offered by the image or give it your own style and paint it in black and white, or place the shadows of one color and the lights on you or make it all monochrome. When you have decided on the colors, start painting the background, you can also give a color base to your main drawing, this will help you not to use as many layers of paint as the colors are better integrated, however be careful not to eliminate the strokes you already made or cover them completely. In the example I first used a layer of ocher paint. After this, paint the base colors of your painting, take care that the colors are integrated and respect the lines that you used to transfer.

Step 8: Add the Details

Add details such as lights or outline shapes, here you can also add your touch if you want to place a phrase or figure, perfect the limits of the shapes add texture, or whatever you consider necessary.

Remember that although you are passing an image you can always give it your own style, the idea is that you make your own artwork.

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