Mural Scaling Techniques

sydney mural

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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.

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 combining them as needed on a project.

4 Mural Scaling Techniques

  • Grid method
  • By eye / freehand
  • Use of a Projector
  • Overlay method or wonky 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.

The first time I used it the wall was pretty small, about 3 metres in height. My first mistake or learning curve with this technique as I used too many grid lines, I think there was 10. But in saying that it will be a case by case thing. You need to find what works for you and the artwork that you are upscaling to 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. See the example below.

Grid mural scaling technique
Grid mural scaling technique
mural artist
Mural I used a grid method to get the basic outline upscaled onto the wall

Freehand Mural

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 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.

painting a mural
Painting a mural by eye or freehand

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 are needing additional resources to make it happen, eg electricity, the right lighting and 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.

school bathoroom mural
Using a projector helped position the typography precisely onto the wall

Overlay Method – Wonky Grid

The first time I was shown this was when I was once working with Mulga the Artist. I have later read that RONE first started using this technique in Australia.

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.

moruya street art
I was able to use the overlay method for this one combined with freehand

Here is Ten Hundred a Seattle based street artist explaining how he uses the Overlay Method – Wonky Grid or as he likes to call it, the Doodle Grid. I’ve set it to play at the part he starts talking specifically about his approach in using the Doodle Grid.

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