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How to paint the town mural

Updated on November 24, 2014
CherylsArt profile image

Cheryl Paton is an artist who believes in creating positive designs. She also likes sharing artistic tips and techniques.

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Steps for Painting a Mural of the Town

I received a request to describe how to paint a mural of a town. It was part of the Virtual Jenga 2012 SquidQuest, when I was on Squidoo. The request stated that this person, "would like to paint a mural of my hometown, which is a village. There are 48 homes and the village is hilly so not all homes are visible at one time. I'm not interested in the mural being completely correct as far as placement is concerned, I'm more interested in including all the homes, or as many as possible. I challenge CreativeArtist to write a lens that explains how to go about preparing to paint a mural as I described. "

This lens is made in answer to that challenge; I hope it helps them out as well as you, if you are also painting a picture of your town.

The above mural, although not a town, shows that hills in the distance are different shades than the ones in the forefront. The colors can vary depending on the time of the day. The variance of the colors in the final painting will also give your painting a more dimensional look.

Image credit for the mural is to the author of this page.

Take pictures of the town and any close ups.

This may be easier said than done.

To take a picture of the town, especially when one is hilly or has lots of buildings, one needs to come up with a good vantage point. Decide where you can safely go, to take pictures.

You may or may not be able to get everything in one picture. The best way is to keep your relative distance pretty much the same, and to slightly change your angle to the left or right, then take another picture. Be sure to include some of the picture from the previous shot in the next successive picture; that will help in lining things up later. Do this for each photo.

If you can't take all the pictures from the same vantage point, then take from different vantage points, and re-size them later to make them more in proportion with each other. You then may also have to make adjustments for the angle of your shot.

***Also take some close up pictures for detail work; this will help give your painting a more realistic look.

Adjust the pictures.

Adjust the size and line things up.

Send your photos to your picture file, and or make copies. If you don't have computer picture software, make copies, black and white may be best; see how well the pictures show up. If you make the copies on a printer, try varying the sizes to get the overall picture to line up.

Don't use your close up pictures in this step; they will be used for reference later. You just want the larger outlines at this point.

If you're using computer software, you can more easily re-size the different images and then print them.

Once you have the images to an appropriate size to work with, that keeps the items in relative proportion, tape them together.

Use this as the base for your working drawing.

I like having a camera phone with me to take the pictures. - I can easily delete any pics I don't want, and take another.

On the ones that I choose to keep, I can easily email them to myself.

Jessica and Susie painting was made from a combination of three photos that I re-sized to line things up.

Jessica and Susie painting was made from a combination of three photos that I re-sized to line things up.
Jessica and Susie painting was made from a combination of three photos that I re-sized to line things up.

I used the upper body from one photo, the lower body from another photo, and the cat from a third.

I re-sized the photos, adjusting them to common lines on where they would meet, and then did my drawing.

Make a preliminary working drawing on paper.

Use the same proportions on your paper that the final mural will be.

For instance if the final mural is to be 5 by 7 feet, then make this drawing be a multiple of 5 X 7 inches.

Decide what will be in the picture, i.e. what houses will be where.

Design a drawing that you can work from. I like making my working drawing using colored pencils. I find it helpful in estimating how much paint I might need of the different colors. It also helps in visualizing the final picture.

To read more on sizing the picture in this step, you can refer to the Grid Method Drawing Instructions.

I find it helpful to make my working drawing on graph paper. - The working drawing is the one you'll work from.

The straight lines are already there. Using the straight lines on the graph paper, I draw out my incrementally spaced lines, i.e. every inch, inch and half, what ever the scale is that I'll be working with.

Illustration.
Illustration.

Tape out the mural area

Make a tape frame around the area where the mural will be.

If the mural is on a wall, and not on a pre-measured canvas, tape out the final dimensions of the mural, the finished dimension being on the inside of the tape. I like using low tack painters tape for this.

Once the tape is straight and the corners squared up, or from the edge of the canvas if your working from that, go back and place marks or small strips of tape from the outer edge. Extend these marks or pieces of tape from the blue tape to the outside of the painting area, in increments that will help you line things up.

For instance, if you're working in a 5 x 7 foot area, place these tape strips every foot apart. from both the top and the bottom, and from both sides. It should look something like the blue and white drawing to the right.

Draw the picture in to the mural area. - Use your tape markings as guidelines.

You can do this one of two ways. If you're pretty good at eye balling, you can begin by looking at your working drawing, and using your tape markers on your tape frame as your guidelines, begin to draw your design in to the mural area.

If you need more proportion help with this step, lightly draw a grid into your taped frame, to better help you to line things up.

Also draw in the details in this step, i.e. any certain identifying markings on the individual houses, etc. If there are fine details, such as house numbers, paint the background area first, then when that has dried, draw and paint in the numbers.

I like using watercolor pencils to do this drawing. The color guideline is very helpful in painting in the different colors. The watercolor pencil marks can easily be painted over and the colors just lightly blend in to the paint.

Choose the Paint, and Paint the Mural - Use the appropriate paint for the surface and location of the mural.

Once your drawing is in place in the mural area, you can begin painting.

However, make sure to use the paint that is appropriate for the surface and location of your mural. Will you be painting on a rough surface or smooth surface? Allow more paint for a rough textured surface.

Will your mural be indoors or outside? Will it be in the weather? If it is indoors or out of the weather, artist acrylic paint will probably work. Either way, be sure to coat the final painting with several layers of artist varnish. If the painting will be in outdoor weather conditions, you might want to purchase acrylic paint that is made for outdoor use or exterior house paint.

Once all the coats are done and the paint has dried, gently remove the tape, Pull the tape slowly away from the painting.

If you need blending tips, visit Blending Acrylic Paints.

Protect the mural - Coat slightly over the edge of the mural in to the wall area.

Whether indoors or outdoors, a protective coating of varnish will help it to last longer. Be sure to coat with at least two layers of varnish, and check also with the recommendations of the manufacturer.

Recap of the Steps to Paint a Mural of the Town

  • Take a picture or pictures of the town.
  • Adjust the sizes of the photos, printouts, and line them up.
  • Make a working drawing on graph paper.
  • Tape out the mural area that is in proportion to your working drawing.
  • Draw the design in to the mural area.
  • Choose the appropriate paint and paint the mural.
  • Protect the mural.

Interesting Books for Painting Murals

Trompe L'oeil Interiors: How to Create Convincing Murals and Painted Illustrations
Trompe L'oeil Interiors: How to Create Convincing Murals and Painted Illustrations

I found the images quite inspiring in this book, and the instructions quite helpful.

 
Creative Kids' Murals You Can Paint
Creative Kids' Murals You Can Paint

This books has some great ideas for framing windows, and also simple paintings.

 

Is this your first mural painting project? Your comments and questions are welcome. - Happy painting.

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    • CherylsArt profile imageAUTHOR

      Cheryl Paton 

      4 years ago from West Virginia

      @Elsie Hagley: You're very welcome. If you do paint one, I hope you share it with us.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 

      4 years ago from New Zealand

      I can't paint but you have done a great job in telling how to paint the town mural I shouldn't have any excuses for not trying. Thanks for sharing your expertise.

    • CherylsArt profile imageAUTHOR

      Cheryl Paton 

      5 years ago from West Virginia

      @norma-holt: Thank you and bless you skiesgreen.

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 

      5 years ago

      A new blessing on this lovely lens and may you have a wonderful, successful and happy 2013. Hugs

    • CherylsArt profile imageAUTHOR

      Cheryl Paton 

      6 years ago from West Virginia

      @antoniow: Thank you antoniow.

    • CherylsArt profile imageAUTHOR

      Cheryl Paton 

      6 years ago from West Virginia

      @aesta1: Thank you aesta1. It's fun looking at town murals that people have done.

    • profile image

      antoniow 

      6 years ago

      Fantastic lens, great topic, Squidlike

    • CherylsArt profile imageAUTHOR

      Cheryl Paton 

      6 years ago from West Virginia

      @SheilaMilne: SheilaMilne, it's so great that you're applying the tips to another project. Happy creating!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I don't think I'll try something like this now but it's a great thing to do.

    • SheilaMilne profile image

      SheilaMilne 

      6 years ago from Kent, UK

      I'm not sure that I could manage a mural but you've given me inspiration for other project. You make it sound so easy, it's tempting to try.

    • lynnasafriend profile image

      lynnasafriend 

      6 years ago

      I'm right now learning how to paint, thank you for the ideas.

    • profile image

      katieross 

      6 years ago

      My apartment is having a contest for ideas for a future mural in our complex. This is a great lens for inspiration!

    • magictricksdotcom profile image

      magictricksdotcom 

      6 years ago

      Some excellent suggestions here, especially about protecting the finished mural. Bet a lot of artists forget to do that.

    • CherylsArt profile imageAUTHOR

      Cheryl Paton 

      6 years ago from West Virginia

      @UKGhostwriter: A civic event of painting the town mural is a great idea!

    • CherylsArt profile imageAUTHOR

      Cheryl Paton 

      6 years ago from West Virginia

      @OhMe: You're welcome OhMe. I'd love to see your town mural.

    • CherylsArt profile imageAUTHOR

      Cheryl Paton 

      6 years ago from West Virginia

      @Country-Sunshine: You're welcome CountrySunshine. I'd love to see it.

    • Country-Sunshine profile image

      Country Sunshine 

      6 years ago from Texas

      I've been wanting to paint a mural on my barn, but unfortunately, I am not artistic! However, your article gives me some great pointers, and I may actually try it. Thanks!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      6 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I have painted several murals and would love to paint one of our town, too. Thank you for these instructions on How to Paint the Town Mural.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      I wish I was artistic enough to do this!

    • UKGhostwriter profile image

      UKGhostwriter 

      6 years ago

      Fantastic idea for a civic event

    • Lynda Makara profile image

      Lynda Makara 

      6 years ago from California

      This is great! Congrats on the purple star, it's well-deserved.

    • microfarmproject profile image

      microfarmproject 

      6 years ago

      I might have to give this a try! Thanks!

    • julescorriere profile image

      Jules Corriere 

      6 years ago from Jonesborough TN

      Terrific lens. I've worked in several communities that have done large scale murals. This lens offers some great information. Congratulations on your purple star. Blessed.

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 

      6 years ago

      This seems like a major art project. Fantastic!

    • GonnaFly profile image

      Jeanette 

      6 years ago from Australia

      Mmmm. I've never painted a mural, but you've given some great instructions.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      6 years ago from Central Florida

      I love murals, but don't think I'll ever have the nerve to try painting one. For braver people than me, you've provided some very helpful tips.

    • MerandaJade profile image

      MerandaJade 

      6 years ago

      Mice step-by-step for painting a mural.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      Talk about painting the town! A step by step plan for those itching to get out there and let their brushes fly. I'm glad you were able to get this purple star winner into the Jenga Challenge, nicely done and I see just what your challenger needed to get going, the true test of a well done DIY!

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 

      6 years ago

      Nicely done lens and information. Featured on Blessed by Skiesgreen 2012-2. Hugs

    • CherylsArt profile imageAUTHOR

      Cheryl Paton 

      6 years ago from West Virginia

      @lbrummer: You're welcome Loraine. I'm so glad it's what you wanted. Glad to have helped you fulfill an item on your bucket list. I hope you make a lens about it, and I'll be sure to provide a link to it from this lens, for you.

    • lbrummer profile image

      Loraine Brummer 

      6 years ago from Hartington, Nebraska

      Thanks, CreativeArtist, the information is exactly what I was hoping for. This is one of the items on my Bucket List and now I'm anxious to start taking the pictures. With the information you've provided, I think I just might be able to do it. I'm going to try anyway.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 

      6 years ago from Canada

      Wow, this sounds like a tough challenge. You handled it brilliantly.

    • CherylsArt profile imageAUTHOR

      Cheryl Paton 

      6 years ago from West Virginia

      @TonyPayne: Thanks Poddys. I'm not painting the mural, at least not this one. I received a request on writing how to.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 

      6 years ago from Southampton, UK

      This sounds like a great idea, I can't wait to see the finished mural. Good Luck in the Jenga Challenge.

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