DIY : DIY Botanical Illustration Mural – Cari Westbrook – Medium
A few weeks ago, I had a vision of what I wanted to do in my dining room, and I knew it would be easy (and cheap!) to pull off. I don’t have a lot of art (yet), and my dining room wall was sadly empty. So I painted the wall, pulled out my projector, and bought some gold paint pens — and now, I have a beautiful mural.
Let’s be real. Sometimes, I just stand in my dining room and stare.
A bunch of friends have exclaimed “I could never do that,” so now I’m writing a blog post. This is a cheap & easy way to add art to any large wall, and you don’t need to be an artist to do it.
All you’ll need:
- A base color on your wall (something darker helps the gold stand out)
- A projector (borrow it, or get a cheap one for about $80–90) or a tracer (this one is $40). A projector is better if your image is digital; a tracer is better if you own a flat piece of art
- Gold Paint Pens. This one is water-based, which you probably want. If your image is bigger, you’ll need more — my wall took about 2 paint pens. If you know your walls have oil-based paint (unlikely), then you’ll want to use the oil-based paint pens.
- An image you love. I got my image from this amazing book of vintage botanical illustrations, where you can download a high-res image of the illustrations
Note: none of the links above are referral links; they’re just for reference.
Step 1: Paint the Wall
You know how to prep & paint a wall. Do it right.
Step 2: Project the Image
Tip: I wanted my image larger than my projector screen could go, so I had to adjust where it went a few times. If you run into this problem, find a good stopping point. Here, it would be the edge of every complete flower. Then, as I adjust where the image goes, I could get it in the approximately right place & not worry if it didn’t line up perfectly.
Step 3: Start Outlining
Assuming you’re right-handed, you’ll want to start in the upper left corner so you don’t run your hand over wet paint-pen.
Your outline doesn’t need to be perfect — just approximate. You’ll go back over these lines later to clean them up. Plus, I really liked the imperfect look of the unfinished lines; it adds character.
Step 4: Start Filling In & Refining Lines
When I had outlined the entire image, I started going back over lines I wanted darker, and I filled in some of the shading. Here’s a photo where I had done the bottom half of the photo.
You can see how inconsistent the top looks, which is why I wanted to go over the lines a second time. This is due to the paint pen occasionally running out of ink, since I was holding it at an unnatural angle.
Step 5: Finishing Touches
Once you’ve filled everything in, take a step back and make sure you like how it looks. Fill in or alter anything you’re not sure about.
Step 6: Step back and admire your work
Optional: post on Facebook &Instagram so everyone else can admire along with you.
Step 7: Finish with A Clear Paint
I actually still need to do this step, because I want to make sure that my dog and cats and general life won’t impact the mural. I plan to stop by Home Depot & get a clear protective paint to go over all the gold bits. I anticipate it’ll cost about $5–10.
And that’s it!
I already owned a projector, so this project cost me about $40–45 total ($30 for the blue paint, $5 for gold paint pens, and $5–10 for the clear finishing paint I’ll be acquiring.
As for time, it took about 12 hours total. It was about 3 hours of painting (including the cleaning, taping, and second coat of paint — and the casual hanging banter that interrupts painting, since Margaret was helping me). And approximately 9 hours for the mural itself.