How to Paint a Large Scale Mural
What I am going to share with you is a number of mural scaling techniques on how to paint large-scale murals. By that, I mean how to get your image from a small-scale mock-up to transfer to scale on a larger wall.
If you are looking for some basic steps of mural painting, view how to paint a mural.
At the bottom of this page, you can add your comments about mural scaling methods.
The following mural scaling techniques will be helpful from upscaling to a 2-metre wall to that of a 20-metre wall and beyond. As a street artist, I have used each one.
These days I will go between the techniques and even at times combine them as needed on a project.
Mural Scaling Techniques
- Grid method
- By eye / freehand
- Use of a Projector
- Pounce method
- Doodle Grid / Squiggle Grid
Scaling a Mural using the Grid Method
Using a grid to scale your artwork onto a wall is nice and easy. Ideally, you want a flat wall to work with this method. As you can see below I was painting onto a shipping container but this mural upscaling technique still worked.
The first time I used it the wall was pretty small, about 3 metres in height. I used a grid method though also applied inner circles as part of the grid to make it easier to reference when sketching on the wall.
This method is pretty straightforward. Draw up a grid over your work, eg printed on an A4 piece of paper. The grid relates to the wall size, say 3 metres by 3 metres. So if you had a grid using 3 rows/columns then those would be 1 metre apart. On your artwork, you just make sure they are evenly placed over your artwork.
The important part is just knowing the length and height of the wall and dividing it evenly to form the grid for the wall and artwork. The example below just focuses on the character I wanted to paint which used a perfect square grid which made it easy to draw the grid up.
I have to admit this is my favourite go-to method and when the artwork allows for it to be more organic or isn’t a client project that requires precision based on the original signed-off artwork.
It is straightforward in the sense you just sketch up the wall ratio onto paper, eg 10m x 3m wall might be a 30cm x 9cm box outline on paper. That is if you want to sketch your ideas down first.
Otherwise, you may just have your idea in your head and jump straight onto a painting or sketching onto the wall. Each to their own on using this street artist technique.
There are definitely times when this approach will not be a good starting point and you would look at one of the other options. You can combine this mural technique with another option then break back out into freehand if you feel comfortable in doing so.
Using a Projector for Murals
Using a projector can be very handy when needing to upscale your artwork onto the wall. Depending upon the power and quality of the projector will limit the size of the wall so have that in mind.
There are pros and cons to using a projector in regards to you needing additional resources to make it happen, eg electricity, the right lighting and the position of the projector.
I particularly like using a projector when having to paint typography as a part of the mural.
When selecting a projector you will want to consider a short throw if working in tight space conditions or if outside a more powerful and brighter lighting projector.
Pouncing – Pounce pattern
Pouncing is another mural upscaling technique which is a little similar to the projector method but without the projector. By that I mean you can create the outlines on a large paper sheet which you use as the guide for the mural outlines. The outlines are created by using a pounce wheel, a tiny hand-held tool with a spikey wheel that puts holes into the paper when you roll over it.
It is a bit of a fiddly process but one way of doing it by yourself is to create a drawing of your mural of the outlines you would like to upscale for the wall. This means having your artwork drawn in the same ratio as the wall size (if doing to a fixed size).
With your outline drawing, you would then get this printed more than likely at a commercial printer that can do tile printing. That means it will print out for example a 4 metres wide by 2 metres high artwork but in individual pieces of paper which you tile/stick together. With the printed-out outlines of your mural now start to tape all the pieces together.
Now with your pounce wheel run over all the lines to get clean holes/perforations created. Now with all the holes created tape your paper stencil to the wall. Now using a pounce pad (this has a chalky substance in it) rub it over the perforations which then creates the dotted linework to the wall.
Now with your mural outlines added to the wall, you can start to paint your mural.
Doodle Grid / Squiggle Grid Mural Method
It is similar in nature to the grid method but you are either using existing markings on the wall or adding some to the wall, eg masking tape or painted marks.
You then take a photo of the wall with the markings and using your phone or iPad etc you superimpose the artwork over the photo of the wall using an app like Procreate. Add some transparency to the artwork so the wall and makings start to show through the artwork.
Using the image you have created showing the markings through the artwork you can then start to use the marking on the wall and reference the artwork to see where to start drawing lines on the wall.
Below was a wall that I used reference points, like the air conditioner and various cracks in the wall using this method of overlaying my artwork over a photo of the wall.
Here is Ten Hundred a Seattle-based street artist explaining how he uses the Doodle Method – Squiggle Grid. I’ve set it to play at the part he starts talking specifically about his approach to using the Doodle Grid.
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