Painted Accent Walls are for model homes built in 2004; here's to moving on.
So, what to do with a blank white wall..?
Step 1: Image and Supplies
Supplies: Image, Vinyl sticker backed sheets ($10 from Amazon), razor blade, patience.
First, find an image that will translate well when enlarged and plastered (this project scaled up a 8x11 sheet of paper to about a 5 foot tall image). Generally something that can be silk-screened makes for a good wall "installation" (blatant art term use). You should be able to Photoshop select photos into a usable format by essentially making it look like a Warhol (blatant name drop), then converting to black and white. I chose an icon from a bygone era in one color. I suppose you could overlay vinyl in several colors, but that is beyond me. Also, really any image would work with this concept, the determinants being 1) vinyl and 2) your ability to use an x-acto knife.
Step 2: Enlarge Image
I did the next step and the editing details in Microsoft Paint, which is a very basic, rudimentary and software version of crayons. Since this arguably worked using Paint, I'm positive you can achieve much better results using a more advanced software program. I copied this into Paint, tweaked and colored it as necessary then saved it as a PDF.
Then I opened it in Adobe and in the print settings, enlarged it to something like 800%. In print preview, I printed only the pages with color on them, so I could avoid printing all 70 pages of the enlarged document. Because I hate puzzles (artificially broken images that for some reason we pay to fix), I labeled the pages as they came out of the printer so I could lay them out later without giving the nose an eyelash.
Step 3: Cut Out and Tape
Next, I cut the margins off of the printed pages and taped each related page together. There are basically 3 sections to this image, 2 eyes and the nose/mouth. In this step's photo, you'll see that I left a border around the taped up eye, this comes in handy in the next step.
Step 4: Tape to Vinyl Sheet and Cut
With your image cut out and taped together, it's X-ACTO time. Be careful, as razor blades have a sharp reputation. I purchased a 6 pack of 12x24 inch vinyl sheets from Amazon for $10. The sheets have a sticker back and are generally used with Cricut cutters. Lay your image/pattern over a vinyl sheet and tape the borders to the vinyl. This will keep the image from slipping around while you cut it out with a razor blade. The eye was too large to fit on one vinyl sheet, so I had to tape 2 vinyl sheets together.
Make sure you secure everything together as one slip of the photo or vinyl will distort the final cut out image. Also, you have to use a decent amount of pressure to cut through the paper pattern and vinyl. It helps to have a large, hard, flat surface to cut on, knowing that you will cut through and mark whatever cutting surface you chose.
Unfortunately, cutting out the eye reminded me of a Salvador Dali film that contains the most disturbing scene on film and I'm mentioning because there's disturbing strength in numbers (obnoxious and ambiguous art reference).
Step 5: Image Layout
With everything finally cut out, its time for a break. Using a razor blade to cut out every precise little corner caused hand cramps and made me crankier than normal, which is a feat given my natural disposition.
Laying this out is actually quite a process. Initially, I was going to use a ruler to measure the original drawing, but then I decided I didn't want to go through the hassle of scaling. Instead, I used the taped template/pattern (the leftovers from the previous step) as a kind of guide to lay out the nose and mouth, which I held to the wall using scotch tape. Leave the backing on the vinyl until you are sure of the placement. I eyeballed the eyes, which never turns out well, socially or otherwise. I finally decided to use a measuring tape to line up the pupils, which helped. Partially based on the wall size/viewing angle and partially out of preference, I raised the eyes a bit (in relation to the nose/mouth) to make the face a little longer than the original image.
With everything where you want it, use a pencil (or other unnoticeable marker) to trace select parts of the image, so you can line it up again after you pull the backing off the vinyl. I found that its MUCH easier to pull the sticky backing off the vinyl when its not on the wall. The vinyl is kind of static-ie and will stick to itself at the most inopportune moment, like when you're barefoot, 10 feet in the air with 2 hands on a sticky image and no hands on the ladder. Also, once it attaches to the wall, it does not want to come off very easily. I nearly ruined this project figuring this out. Mark it, take it off the wall, remove the backing, then carefully place holding it slightly off the wall, then stick one edge onto the wall and slowly work your way to the other edge. Ideally, have someone help you with this step. Not kidding, its aggravating. Easy idea/process/method, but aggravating.
Step 6: Step Back, Admire
Done. And you didn't have to resort to the usual 'contrasting' accent wall, which I have non-authoritatively categorized as interior design litter (along with accent pillows, or any other useless object that begins with "accent __________.")