Introduction: Make Your Own Forest Wall Mural

We are making a tiny human. We have allotted a space in our home for this impending human but wanted to make it a little special. We weren't overly interested in super-gendered décor and wanted the nursery to be an inviting place that reminded us of things that bring joy. We are both big fans of the outdoors/trees and settled on a forest theme for the painting. After looking at a lot of pictures/big wall decals/murals, we decided to paint our own forest (despite having zero experience in the realm of mural painting/painting trees outside of elementary school art class.) The decision allowed us to make a memory doing something for our impending child, try something new, and bring the outside inside with us to help us both relax (hopefully) when trapped with an infant in the wee hours.

Step 1: Plan...Then Give Up on Aforementioned Plan

We began with inspiration and a rough plan.

We found the photo of this super cool forest mural. It was one of those giant customizable wall decals that are approximately one billion dollars.

The hope was that we could take the image, project it onto the wall in our nursery and trace some trees, then just fill in with paint. Bam, no artistic talent required. This being the first experiment with murals of any flavor for all of us (the husband, a good friend, and yours truly), the 'no talent required' aspect was appealing.

Well, we ran into some problems right away:

1. The projector couldn't reach the whole wall so improvisation would be necessary at some point.

2. Blowing up the picture to an appropriate size pixelated it and made it kinda crappy.

3. One member of our three person team had decided on a slightly different plan unbeknownst to the other two members.

So, two of us gamely traced trees while the third drew a rough plan for hills and where trees should go. We soon realized the 'rough plan' deviation would work best given the pixilation/projection issues. We abandoned projector-trace plan and decided to wing it.

Step 2: Gather Materials

You have some background on how the 'plan' worked out but you will need some materials to get started.

What You'll Need:

- 4-5 shades of paint color. Our walls were already a very light gray so we chose four increasingly darker grays to contrast against it; we needed 1 quart of each color.

- 4-8 foam paintbrushes. We had 4 x 1/2 inch and 4 x 1 inch foam brushes, 1 big and 1 little for each shade of gray.

- Paint roller with tray and inserts for each color (not required but the roller made filling in the bottom portions easier.)

- Dropcloth to save the poor floor.

Step 3: Layer 1

Just do it. Start improvising trees in the lightest color. We had a rough idea of where the 'ground' would be and tree-ed it up from there.

Check out the close-up of one of the trees while we were painting, it is not fancy at all. We have no artistic talent so do not be afraid! Additionally, your trees will probably look silly individually - DON'T PANIC. When they are all together, it will look great (later, I'll include pictures of some very sad individual trees so you can feel better about yours!)

Fill in about 1-1 1/2 feet with the lightest color (so the next set of trees have a background.)

Let dry about 20-30 minutes.

*note the abandoned pencil outlines from our original plan; mostly we just painted over the marks with our improvised trees*

Step 4: Layer 2

We put a couple of tree trunks up across the landscape to guide us in our coverage with the second shade of paint, then filled in with trees. Take a look at the close up of tree painting! Those are some funny looking trees.

Fill in about 1-1 1/2 feet below the tree line with the second darkest shade of gray and let dry about 30 minutes.

Step 5: Layer 3

We threw caution to the wind and did the ground/hills first for this layer (why? because no plan, that's why)

After the groundwork was laid, we started filling in with slightly bigger trees in the third shade of gray.

Let dry another 30 minutes before moving on to the last layer.

Step 6: Last Layer

We painted progressively larger trees for each shade so the last/darkest shade of gray demanded some much larger foreground trees. It was hard to commit to such large trees when our tree plan was simply 'move foam brush around in vague chevron shapes until it looks tree-like,' but we overcame the resistance and finished up the last line. Fill in to baseboard and let dry.

Step 7: Enjoy the Forest!

Once everything dried, we moved the furniture back in place and basked in the perfect imperfectness of our very first mural! Honestly, if you zoom in/examine the trees closely, it is easy to think you didn't do a good job (I am a master of telling myself I did a bad job at everything) BUT this time, I just take a step back and marvel at how it looks all together - especially given our no experience and total lack of plan and/or skills.

If we can do this in an afternoon, I have to believe that you could too. Bonus, I think it would look interesting in any number of different colors.

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