how to design a mural
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How to design a mural
Learn how to design a mural. Techniques and materials used.
"Truly unique mural design"

If you've wanted to learn how to design a mural, now you can. Creating a mural is similar to painting a picture. The scale is much larger but the process is the same. If you're interested in designing an indoor or outdoor mural I hope this section is helpful. I've included as much information as possible, from start-up to finish, to make sure your own mural is a success. Have fun and enjoy the process!


Plywood - (13) 4' x 8' sheets of Douglas Fir plywood.
Primer - (2) gallons of white primer.
Paint - (6) cans. One gallon of black, five litres of different colors.
Paint brushes - (3)
Pencils and sharpie markers - (3)

Hand saw
Jig saw
Sand paper

Cost for materials: $658
Hours to complete: approx. 100 hours


The beginning sketches and ideas:
This mural was designed to show unity among cultures. It was created for the New Glasgow music Jubilee and stands 8 feet high and 80 feet long. Sketches (A) is the initial sketch idea which eventually became the five drawings below. Both were simple designs taking only 30 minutes to conceptualize and draw.


 how to design an outdoor mural

The above ideas turned into these five drawings.

outdoor and indoor murals

outdoor mural design

outdoor mural design

how to design a mural

how to design an outdoor mural


The construction of the mural:
Once the drawings were done it was time to get to work.

designing a mural

(Fig.1) Step one begins with the task of priming all 13 sheets of plywood. Outdoor murals need to be primed atleast twice to ensure proper protection from the weather. A third time wouldn't hurt if you have the time and money. The primer I used was a high gloss Rust Coat exterior primer. The wood used was Douglas Fir, which is known for it's ability to withstand the elements.

design your own mural

(Fig.2) Once the primer dries it's time to transfer your images. To save time I traced my images onto projection paper then projected them onto the wood. You can follow the same method or draw them by hand.

mural design

(Fig.3) Here's a view of two of the characters after they've been transfered. Remember they stand eight feet high!

how to design a mural

(Fig.4) Now I'm ready to begin painting. I use my initial drawing as a reference for the color scheme and to fix any problems with the transfered drawing.

how to create a mural

(Fig.5) The first coat of black has been completed. It is also a high gloss Rust Coat. I will eventually do two coats of each color. That's on top of the two coats of primer already painted completed. Nova Scotia has tough winters!

mural design

(Fig.6) Here is a completed view of one of the characters.

creating a mural

(Fig.7) After all the characters have their first coat of paint I can begin the next step of drawing the background sheet music. In order to make sure everything lines up properly I lay the mural out as it should look when hung.

mural design

(Fig.8) I have to ensure each piece is lined up correctly so the music sheet lines up correctly. It was originally drawn with a pencil so I could erase my mistakes. Once I was confident it looked good I traced it with a Sharpie.

mural creation

(Fig.9) In my hand I have a copy of shee musict I printed from the computer. I don't know sheet music so I had to borrow a version online. Part of the note is 'O Canada.' It's always nice to add your own little touch!

how to make a mural

(Fig.10) My father helped me cut out the mural with the jigsaw. It was long hot days so his help was appreciated. Cutting out all the characters was the most labor intensive part of this project. You have to ensure you take your time so you don't break off important pieces of the design. In particular with this character was the end of his guitar.

creating a mural

(Fig.11) This is a view after it's all been cut out. To this point everything has been primed twice and all the characters have just one coat of paint. Now I will begin adding the second coat of paint to everything and fill in the music notes.

murals by Robb Scott

(Fig.12) At this point the project becomes very exciting because you can better visualize the completed mural.

mural design by Robb Scott

(Fig.13) My wife was a big help along with my dad. We cut our honeymoon short in order to get this mural completed on time. She wasn't too happy with that but she's an amazing supporter of mine. She designed the colors for this mural.

(Fig.14) Here's a completed section. It's my favorite figure of the five.

creating a mural

(Fig.15) The final coats of paint have been added to the characters and the musical notes. Now it's touch up time.


The finished mural:
Here's the completed mural! Both ends are missing a four foot piece because it was two long for the area it was placed in. Initially it was measured and designed to be placed onto a building, but that fell through so the town had to find another place for it. I hope this tutorial helped you on your own mural designing adventures. If you have any questions please contact me and I'll be happy to help.

murals by Robb Scott

murals by Robb Scott

murals by Robb Scott

art murals by Robb Scott

creating a mural

Nova Scotia artist Robb Scott
2221 Lilyvale Road
Greenfield, NS
B6L 3T9
All images copyright 2001-2008 Robb Scott ©



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