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.

I started in the top-left underneath the chair rail to fill everything in; I just wanted to be able to sit on the ground, because I was tired

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.

I’ve actually filled in a few little pieces since this photo was taken!

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.

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