Introduction: Painting a Mural

About: I am a 2D/3D Graphics generalist and artist. I Like to create models for 3D Printing and experiment with new technology. I also draw and paint if my muse calls upon me ;-)

Once in a while I want to try new stuff. Mainly because I want to see how far I can get with creating things. Almost a year ago I was thinking that I really wanted to paint something, something big! Unfortunately, I'm no Michelangelo so no Sistine Chapel for me. Oh well, on with more simple stuff then! I had never in my life painted anything before but I thought it might be possible to and if it didn't work out, well, I could always paint it over ;-)

I saw this cool image on Pinterest (very inspirational website I think) that had Super Mario, Luigi, Toad and the Princess running. I'm a bit of a nostalgic guy so this just had to be on my wall! Luckily, I had permission to paint it on my neighbours garage wall, which consists of some nice concrete wall, divided in 5 segments. Ideal! I could put them each in a segment. So here's my journey to finding out how to get it on my wall and having it stay there in good and bright colors. I hope this will help others with the same questions or questee's!

What-I-Really-Need-List so far:

  • lot's of painterstape
  • lot's of cheap paper (maybe rip up magazine's?)
  • Buy decent paint
  • Buy good markers, in this case grafitti markers
  • beamer, overheadprojector, tracer or math, skill and patience for tracing the image
  • Some nice weather always help...the 30 degrees celcius on my back didn't help so much..
  • nice and professional looking gloves, just because it looks good on you.

Ready, set, go!

Step 1: Preparation and Research

After doing some research and seeing some Grafitti-artists at work I knew I had to use spraypaint. Why you may ask?

Isn't a brush and some regular acrylics paint easier or cheaper? Well, yes and no.

As with all things, you have expensive paint and cheap paint. I use acrylic paint from the brand "Amsterdam" from Royal Talens, and it can be quite expensive I can tell you and it is also UV-resistant and lightfast. But I would have to use a brush for some big characters and I really like the grafitti-style of paint, the layering instead of brush strokes. Spraying it was actually faster too but I had to do a lot of masking which is time consuming.

So, the reason I wanted to use spraypaint was mainly because I want it to be weather- and UV-resistant, have bright colors and it would last! This wall is in the sun mostly the whole day. I don't want it to look faded after a year or so. Spraypaint allows me to have a even spread of the paint and even build it up in very thin layers.

I also made a colorchart. It's a musthave! The way I made this one pretty easy. I loaded up the images in Photoshop, picked off the colors with the colorpicker and made small squares with those colors. I did this for each character.

Step 2: The Paint

After doing more research I made a decision to go with Molotow Spraypaint ( It's not acrylic! It's solvent based but if you wanted it to last outside for a long time, this is the way to go I think.

I wanted this paint mainly because this paint can be applied on almost everything, it's incredible I think. You can even spray it on wet surface's or when it's raining and not dripping at all! Add the lightfast colors and UV- and weatherresistant quality too it and I have a winner, in my opinion ofcourse ;-) Also, it wasn't that expensive but it wasn't cheap neither. It's quality stuff though, so no tears over that decision.

With my handy self-made colorchart I compared the colors I needed with a colorchart I downloaded and printed from the Molotow website. Every self-respecting paintcompany has one so why not use it :P I compared it on eyesight but most really matched up!

I also used a mix of black thick markers specially made for to be used on walls. It's actually grafitti-markers and the reason I really wanted to use these are because they have a rectangle, or square-like tip. So that way I could easily create very tight black outlines around the characters, and let me tell you: the moment you draw those outlines around'll be amazed about how solid it looks on your wall!! trust me! People thought I had Photoshopped the final pictures ;-)

Step 3: Transfer the Image

First, I used my Kärcher high-pressure cleaner to clean up the wall. It's good practice to do so, I mean, it's not like I'm tagging this wall for everyone to see and it needed a cleanup anyway.

Then I needed a way to quickly transfer the existing images over to the wall. I could draw it out free-hand, I had tried that before and I also could do it with a grid-system but it all takes to long! One of my shortcomings I guess, patience! :P I'm an IT guy so why not use a beamer from work. You can also use a old overheadprojector or even make one yourself from old parts. I've seen people do that, probably dozens here on Instructables ;-)

I cut every character separate so I could position them as I would see fit. Also, the beamer I used (forgot the brand) had the convenience of inserting a USB-stick with .JPG's on them. Only drawback was they needed to be exactly 1024x1024 pixels of size or it wouldn't display (actually took me a while to figure that out!). It's not necessary but if you don't want to drag your laptop out in the open, it's easy.

Quick tip: working in the summer, at dusk when the sun is setting, ideal for using a beamer and still see enough of what you're doing. You need to trace over the lines, so I made outlines with a black marker, it was going to be painted over anyway and it wouldn't wash away overnight or something. So trace everything, as much as you can, the more time you have for the other parts.

Step 4: Time to Paint!

This is actually a pretty easy process, you just need to be careful of a few things, namely overspray. When you're spraying (even when it's not windy) paint blows the direction you're spraying to, ofcourse, but the fine mist will go further than that. You probably won't notice right away but as you can see on one the Toad picture I actually messed up a bit around the head ;-) So what I did was use some old chain-paper, cheap stuff, and lots of painterstape. Sometimes, depending on the breeze or wind blowing, I would fold the paper in half so it would block the overspray. Anyway, be sure to have enough painterstape around, and paper, to mask things off, you don't want it showing up. It's tedious as hell but worth it!

With the Princess I actually used the overspray to create a gradient. As you can see the colors flow smoothly from yellow to orange. Same technique I used on most faces with Transparent White (works very well to light up colors) although always be careful, I had to redo some stuff a few times! Trial and error! With the painterstape you can mask off a lot of parts too, small parts mostly. Don't wait too long before taking the tape and masks off or the paint will be dry and you will have a raging moment when you peel of paint...

Step 5: Final Steps

As said, when I have painted every nook and cranny of that wall, it's time to close up! I ordered a bunch of grafitti-style markers for the simple fact that they have square tips AND this stuff is like black hole paint ;-) It literally oozes in the pores of the wall thus creating nices strong black outlines. I did have to do it a few times over because the wall absorb a lot. Also I used various sizes just to test out some.

When you're done, be in awe of what you created! I know I was satisfied when I saw the sun lighting it up ;-) So for this project I'm glad I used spraypaint although it was a tedious was worth it though. I do think I spend a something around 100 euro's on this. It might look like a lot of money but having someone come over and have this painted costs more and this is more satisfying :-) Hope you like it!