People always assume my house is covered with murals.  The fact is, I’m usually painting a wall for someone else and I’m quite indecisive when it comes to my own decor.  That said, I have dreamed of the day I would get to design and paint my own nursery, and the time has finally come!  I thought I’d document some of the process in case in of you DIY folk out there would like to try your hand.  And yes, I’m fully aware that you can buy a vinyl decal these days, slap it on the wall and voila…but where’s the fun in that?  This technique will show you how to take a simple sketch, blow it up, and transfer it to the wall.  All you’ll need is a pencil, some paper, painters tape, acrylic paint, good brushes, and a steady hand.

Since our nursery was already blue, I decided long before we found out we were having a boy that rather than repaint the whole room, we’d go with an Under the Sea theme.  (some of you may recall a similar project I worked on a few years back…click!)  Our nursery is small, so I wanted a focal point over the crib, and decided an Octopus would be fun to paint…

Mural Sketch

I sketched a few options with my favorite color scheme (blue and yellow-green with accents of red-orange) and chose the version with the white undersides to balance out the white in his sailor cap.

Next I scanned my tiny sketch into photoshop and printed him out to scale on regular letter sized paper.  In the past, I’ve been known to free-hand a mural or two, but in the interest of keeping my proportions and minimizing the amount of touch ups needed, an enlarged template is never a bad idea.

Octopus Mural Painting Step by Step Instructions

Yep, that’s my big ole belly making a cameo.

After putting all the pieces back together with tape, I flipped over the template and used the side of my pencil to roughly apply graphite to the black lines visible through the paper…

Graphite Transfer Mural Technique

It doesn’t have to be perfect, in fact it’s best if you go a little outside the lines here.  The more graphite applied, the better it will transfer to your wall.

Graphite Transfer for Mural Painting Template

Next, tape your template to the wall using painters tape.  You can move it around until you get it just where you want it…

Octopus Mural in Progress Graphite Transfer

I measured our crib and marked the height with those little pieces of painters tape to make sure that Ocho (yes, that’s his name) would be properly placed without being cut off.

Next, I took my pencil and traced over the black lines, applying medium pressure.  This will transfer that messy graphite to your wall.  Before you remove your template completely, be sure to sneak a peek and make sure that all of your lines transferred nicely.

DIY Graphite Pencil Transfer Technique for Mural Painting

The lines will be faint, but they are there!  Those little white spots are patched holes where we had nails from other artwork prior to making this the mural wall.  To save myself from touching up blue paint, I strategically placed Ocho’s arms in the areas where the holes were.

Now it’s time to prime…and prime some more….and some more after that…and some more after that.  Trust me, you don’t want to skip this step if you’re planning on painting a colored wall.  It will save you LOTS of time in the long run.  I used Killz low VOC primer that we had on hand from another project.  (with windows open for good ventilation of course)

Priming Octopus Nursery Mural

Now that you’ve laid quite the foundation, it’s time to start painting the fun stuff. I always paint from the background to the foreground.

Ocho Underpainting

I kept my sketch of Ocho nearby for reference.  Oh and I won’t lie…yellow-green, though one of my favorite colors, usually requires many, many coats for a nice opaque layer…this green took 4 coats to cover well…I’d probably still be applying coats if I hadn’t primed!

Octopus Nusery Mural with Sailor Hat and Starfish

Here he is!  Spots and all!  I’m really happy with how he turned out!  He’s bright (no pastels for my baby) and he’s the perfect size for over the crib…measuring roughly 3 feet tall by 4.5 feet wide.  I won’t lie, he was definitely time consuming…roughly 20 hrs, start to finish, but totally worth it!

Octopus mural over crib nursery mural painting

The best part?  He’s completely custom for our lil man.

I’m sure I’ll be adding some additional features to his room as time goes on, but for now, this is about all I have in me…(and standing on a ladder probably isn’t too terribly safe for a pregnant woman anyway)

I’d love to see some pics of your own DIY murals, and hope this little tutorial gives you a few tips to help you create something really spectacular!

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Meet Flossie

March 5, 2010

My very first kitty-kat portrait!  Isn’t she a cutie?  More to come soon!

8″x10″

Acrylic & Oil Wash on Patterned Paper

©2010 Heather L. Young

Last year he got this one…(the original, of course)…this year a little something to remind him of his 3 months in Central America.

“Tamarindo Bay, Costa Rica”

8″x10″ Acrylic & Oil Wash on Illustration Board

©2009 Heather L. Young

He may be the last to post, but he was the first of four French Bulldog commissions to come my way this year.  Just look at those ears!  I absolutely adore him!

“Remi”

11″x14″ Acrylic & Oil Wash on Patterned Paper

©2009 Heather L. Young

it’s like candy…

November 21, 2007

So I just ordered some Nova Paints all the way from their maker in CA…(sadly, our local supplier wants to rape us on cost…)  and frankly, I’ve never worked with a more brilliant cadmium yellow light than the Nova brand, so it was well worth the wait on delivery.  The best part about this little adventure…they included this lovely swatch sheet, with actual swatches of the real colors on there…(not some label that defiantly proclaims “actual colors may differ”)…

novapaint.jpg

(even Nick was impressed by this one…)

as promised…

November 6, 2007

a glimpse into my acrylic and oil wash technique.  Of course, every illustration starts with a series of sketches, then color comps…(ask Nick and he’ll tell you I’ve turned choosing colors into a science)…but I won’t bore you with all that…suffice to say, painting is a process…

This is my preferred method of painting, as it involves a subtractive technique…the illustration below is featured in the current issue of Skirt Magazine.

step 1 ~ acrylic on illustration board…patterned paper underneath…

step2.jpg

step 2 ~ more acrylic underpainting

step3.jpg

step 3 ~ adding and subtracting oil wash

step4.jpg

step 4 ~ layering and layering…until I’m satisfied….

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add some finishing touches and she’s ready for print…

stepfinal.jpg

Sweet potato illustration.  Copyright Heather L. Young 2007

paint paint paint!

September 26, 2007

Oh I love to paint!  Finally made my way back into the studio…working on a Skirt! Illustration.  I procrastinated on this one…I must say, the ingredient this time, is not the most aesthetically pleasing to draw, so I’ve had to get pretty creative.  So far the process is looking good, and I’ve implemented a new element to this illustration so definitely check back to see the finished product!….I’m documenting the process, and after the November issue comes out, I’ll have a “walk through” of my acrylic and oil wash technique….(wish I could do it sooner, but I can’t “let the cat out of the bag” until it’s published….) Til then, check out my happy little palette…

artists palette