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Updated on February 6, 2014

Painting An Underwater Wall Mural

Painting a Wall Mural is not as complicated as it looks. The trick is to break down the entire mural into smaller paintings and to pick fish that are not too hard to imitate. The internet is a great source of images for ocean life. We may have used a little brighter paint colors than we find in nature, but then again maybe not.

We started by mixing acrylic paint in burnt sienna and white together. This made a brownish colored sand and we wanted our sand a slightly yellow color, so a touch of ochre paint gave us the right sand color we wanted for the ocean floor.

How to Create the Blue Ocean

Once the sandy ocean floor was done and not too dry we started to add layers of ocean water with sponges and a side to side motion. I don't know if it shows up in the photos due to the variety in computer screen color display but the blue of ocean water gets slightly lighter blue (by adding additional white paint to the blue) as it moves toward the top. This helps to create depth near the bottom of the ocean floor.

The Beginnings of My Mural

As you can see in the close up photo, we have an electrical outlet and a light switch on this wall. We simply covered over it and allowed it to blend into the mural. Because the giant clam was so large we painted that first. I did the outline and allowed the kids to fill in the solids. Later I added white highlights when it dried well.

While the kids painted the seashell, I outlined the reddish orange starfish. Once again the kids filled in the solids in the centers. Later, I painted shadows under the clam and starfish. We decided on our fish ahead of time so we laid down the first layer of color and allowed it to dry. Since the wall is blue some of the fish required a few layers like the ones which are white or yellow before we moved on to the second color. The kids painted all the eyes on the fish.

Making Shadows

One trick to making our images on the ocean floor look 3-D was to add a darker color behind and underneath the images, so I started by mixing a slightly brownish-purple paint color. I mixed this color using purple, white and yellow. This caused the paint to turn brownish purple. The perfect color of shadows.

With the color we planned to use for shadowing we created the plant on the ocean floor on the right side. Then, I set this aside the shadow paint and covered it to keep the paint from drying out.

Ready Made Wall Murals on Amazon Now!

If you don't have the nerve to paint on your walls or live in a home where it is impossible to paint, you may consider a ready made wall mural. They are easy to install, and can be changed much easier than painting when you want to move it to a different room, change the d├ęcor, or get tired of it.

Left Half Wall Mural

We broke the areas down into part of the whole to make the image easier to paint. This is the left side of the wall. We painted each element and allowed it to dry before we moved on to the next one. We set up a fan to assist us with paint drying so we could continue quickly.

Right Side Wall Mural

We allowed each child to pick a few favorite creatures from the ocean that appealed to them and then incorporated their ideas in, even if they didn't necessarily belong. Obviously we could not include everything that lives in the ocean so the ideas had to be limited to either a whale or a shark but not both due to size restrictions. The children named the fish and became quite attached to them before they even finished the mural.

Adding a Whale

I added a bit of acrylic medium to the paint for the whale to give him a subtle distant look. He would have dominated the whole painting without the medium added to the paint and I wanted him to look a little translucent.

Giant Sea Turtles

Giant sea turtles are probably not this bright green, but they are the main focus of the entire mural and I wanted them to be bright colored as opposed to the whale. It was lonely with only one turtle and he needed a mate.

Ocean Wall Mural on Amazon Now

These large peal and stick wall murals will make creating and ocean wall painlessly easy if you don't want to paint yourself.

Ocean Themed Wall Murals on ebay

With a plain ocean background and a few decals you can create your own custom wall decor.

The Completed Underwater Wall Mural

It only took one day to complete our mural with the help of lots of little hands eager to paint and of course the fans to dry the paint quickly. It may look a little cartoony, but heck, we can always paint over it later and we had a heck of a lot of fun planning the mural, learning about sea life and the anatomy of certain fish, underwater plants, coral, etc. What are the chances my kids will ever forget this? Look out world, there is a lot of canvas left out there!

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    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 

      5 years ago from USA

      Lovely and so colorful. This also fits the quest for this week. Maybe the kids are up for another project. I could see this turning into a great children's book and lesson. Really nicely done.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image

      Rhonda Lytle 

      5 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      This is so cool. I love that the kids helped in the design and creation process. Thanks bunches for the tips and tricks about creating depth and shadows too. Awesome.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      This would be perfect for the wall behind my bathtub! Thanks for the links for murals, too... I'm not sure I'm brave enough to do the painting myself.


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