I recently had a client contact me for a quote to come and do a mural for her twin's baby nursery. She knew exactly what she wanted - so I gave her a ballpark quote over email without seeing the space. She decided that the project was way over her budget. I made a suggestion to maybe call around to local high schools to see if there might be students in the art departments that could come and do the mural for a cheaper rate.
She wrote me back and thanked me for the advice and said that she was going to try and attempt the mural on her own. She followed with these common questions:
- What type of paint should I use for smaller items in the mural?
- Can I purchase paint from a craft store?
- What brand of paint do you prefer?
- How do you achieve shading in the background areas like sky and landscape?
- What color paint should I use to darken or lighten the existing paint colors?
These are all great questions and when I was responding to her email, I decided that it would be great to share my answers with you as well.
Here is what I wrote:
I use acrylic craft paint for smaller things within a mural and I use latex paint for larger background areas. I don’t use any specific brand. You can go with the 2 oz containers of acrylic that you would find in any craft store. Michaels carries them. Be sure to bring your reference pictures with you to the store so you can buy the exact colors that you need.
A great trick for getting images to look right on a wall without freehanding them is to use an overhead projector. Trace your outline on acetate and project the image onto the wall, trace with a pencil and then paint. (Click here to read more about how this is done)
The shading colors really depend on what colors you are using. If you are doing the sky, mix the color you are using with a darker blue color. The biggest misconception about shading is that you add straight black to make a color darker. It winds up being way to dark and muddy. You want the shading to be as natural as possible.
Another trick to bring out the shading is to also use highlights. This is done by adding a small amount of what to whatever color you are using and highlight areas that are on the top or sides. Be sure to pick an imaginary light source where the light will be coming from within the mural so that you know exactly where your highlight areas should be and keep it consistent throughout the mural.
So, there ya have it, a few simple steps to paint a mural on your own without any prior experience.
So let's summarize:
- You don't need any special brand of paints
- You can purchase cheap acrylic paints from a craft store
- Use latex paint for the mural background
- Always use reference pictures
- Use an overhead projector for an outline that is in proportion
- Add shading by mixing a darker color with the original color
- Add Highlights by adding a dab of white to the paint color
- Pick an imaginary lightsource
And if you are interested in finding lots of great baby nursery mural ideas, be sure to check out my other site www.NurseryMuralsandMore.com