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Squiggle Grid / Doodle Grid

doodle grid

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How to Use a Squiggle Grid to Upscale Mural Artwork

When it comes to painting a large mural and you need to upscale your artwork, you can use the squiggle grid, also known as the doodle grid method. There are a few different ways to upscale your mural too. But for now, I will focus on the squiggle grid technique.

You can also make comments or ask questions at the bottom of this article if needed.

doodle grid
A Doodle grid is used to upscale artwork for a mural

Below you can read and learn how to use a squiggle grid to upscale your artwork for your mural.

Squiggle Grid List of Things Needed

  • Computer / iPad / Phone
  • Artwork in digital format
  • Software like Procreate or Photoshop (I am sure there are other free options too)
  • Digital Camera or using your Phone or iPad
  • Paint / Aerosol or even tape

Doodle Grid for Mural Upscaling of Proportions

When I first started out painting murals I was lucky as in a lot of my work I could easily freehand onto large walls. Over the years some of my mural artwork got a little bit more realistic, for example, my bird mural which needed to be more accurately proportioned onto a wall. So to do this I started to research the squiggle grid / doodle grid technique.

Initially, I was like oh how am I ever going to do this but after some consideration and observation of other artists, I figured it out, and here are those steps to how I do it.

Wall Dimensions – Artwork File to be Same Ratio ( Ratio not always necessary)

Ideally, you will know the dimensions of your wall, for example, let’s say it is 4m high by 3m wide. Now with the artwork that you are going to create you would set up the dimensions of the file to be in the same ratio. I might set my new file in Procreate to be 400 pixels high by 300 pixels wide then times each of those by 3 to make a bigger file to work with, so 1200 pixels high x 900 pixels wide. Now create your artwork.

You can sometimes skip the need to have the artwork file in the same ratio as you may just have a figure that needs to be added to the wall. Once you read through the article this will make more sense.

squiggle grid and art file same ratio
The art file is in the same size ratio as the wall

Draw Your Doodle Grid on the Wall

Now, this is the fun bit, on the wall you can start drawing squiggles (this is the start of drawing the doodle grid) like in the photo below. I like to use long lines with dots and shapes. You fill the 4m by 3m area with these squiggles. You can use a brush, aerosol, masking tape, or even chalk, to mark out the grid. If you are using paint then be aware of needing to cover it where masking tape or chalk can be removed.

squiggle grid
Painting the squiggle grid onto the wall

Now that you have covered the area with your squiggle grid take a photograph of the wall (use a lens that does not distort the wall, eg don’t use wide angle lens/mode) with the squiggles/doodle grid. When you photograph the wall with the squiggle grid on it it is best to try and get in the center/front with minimal distortion of the wall. Now add that photo to your computer or tablet.

Merging the Mural Artwork with the Squiggle Grid

Open your photo of the wall/doodle grid, say for example in Procreate or an app that has layers (Photoshop has layers too). Then import your artwork (be sure to copy and flatten your artwork beforehand) into a layer above so the artwork will be in the top layer and the photo of the wall with the grid will be below it.

doodle grid with artwork
Merge the photo of the wall with the doodle grid and artwork file
lazy grid
Overlaying the artwork (making it transparent) onto the photo of the wall with the squiggle grid

Now remember how we set up our artwork file to be in the same ratio as the wall, this comes in handy when we overlay our artwork as we may need be stretch the corners to match the wall area. It is not always necessary to use the same ratio though it makes it easy to paint your mural onto a rectangle-shaped wall. You can just overlay your artwork image on top of a grid too.

Using the Combined Artwork and Grid to Draw on the Wall

Then use opacity to make the artwork layer transparent and then you can start to see the photo of the wall with the doodle grid below. You will now have a file with your artwork showing the doodle grid mixed in with it. You can now use this as a guide on where to draw onto the wall with the squiggle grid on it.

Using the merged files you can start to mark out your artwork using the squiggle grid as a guide

Final Mural Artwork

You can now see how we used the doodle grid combined with the artwork to show where to draw the outlines of the figure below onto the wall for your mural.

Portrait outlines using the doodle grid
Portrait outlines using the doodle grid
mural art graffiti
Street Artist HAPPY DECAY with the final street art using the squiggle grid method.

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3 thoughts on “Squiggle Grid / Doodle Grid

  1. Would you need to take the photograph of the wall you were painting using a ‘straight lens’ in other words not a wide angle to avoid distortion of the edges and thus maintaining the right proportion when painting mural?

    1. Hi Kevin, that is a great point and will add it to the main part of the article.
      Yes a lens that does not distort the wall shape as best as possible.

      In general did you find the article clear enough to apply this technique?

    2. I’ve never painted a mural but seen so many great ones over the years and wondered how it the artist gets the proportions right in such a large scale. Makes sense now seeing this method. Think I’ll give it a go in the summer

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