Right before we moved (literally hours), I painted a mural on Don’s wall. Now, that sounds crazy. But I had the idea and I couldn’t get it out of my head so I did all of the chores of moving and when I had some extra time left over, I went for it. Plus, when we go back in the spring, Don will love having a DIY dinosaur mural on his wall.
how to paint a diy dinosaur mural
Here’s the before picture of Don’s wall. Sad and blank. Except for that mirror that we added last minute. It used to be hanging in the rainbow tile bathroom, but that got replaced for a medicine cabinet. I brought it up here not for Don, but for guests. Gotta check your face before leaving the room sometimes!
Also, turns out I was in the habit of blogging before we moved. But taking a few weeks off, I’m a little rusty. I have so much to share so I wanted to start with this since I think it’s a great way to get the look of wallpaper for wayyyyy less.
step 1- mock up the mural
Start by creating a mock-up of the mural you want to make. I used the online software picmonkey.com. This is what I used to make all my graphics for my blog- it’s super easy to use! It costs $8 per month or I think you can do a free 7 day trial if you want to just use it for this project.
This isn’t sponsored, I just love the service. Photoshop overwhelms me so I’m grateful to have an alternative.
To make the mock-up, I started by taking a picture of the wall the mural will go in. I uploaded it onto Picmonkey and then found a few different dinosaur wallpapers I liked online. Since I was hand painting them at a different scale and mixing a few designs, I felt ok about it.
I took screen shots of the dinosaurs I liked on the different wallpapers. Then I combined them onto the picture of the wall until I liked how it looked. Once that was complete, I printed it out.
When I was ready to start my mural, I began by measuring the wall and then marking each foot mark on my drawing and on the wall. I did this both vertically (up the door frame) and horizontally (across the chair molding). So I’d measure the wall and put a pencil mark at each foot. Then I’d look at the picture and put a mark at roughly the same spot.
Next, I created a grid on the mock-up. The reason for this is so that I could translate my drawing to real life and stay in scale. You could do this much easily with an old school projector. But I don’t have access to one, but this worked great!
Since I added a mirror to the wall, I couldn’t follow my plan perfectly. So I did my best and used the grid on the paper and the marks on the wall to start drawing the triceratops. What worked best for me was to draw on registration marks where the feet, head, tail, and chest hit.
You can see in the mock-up above, the head starts at a little past the 2′ line. The tail hits the 4′ line. And the back goes up a little past the 1′ line. By making those marks, I could then free hand a pencil mark between them and easily draw the triceratops to scale.
Next, I used paint to fill in the triceratops. Each dinosaur took two coats of paint. Last, I’d add in the details like eyes, mouth, and stripes.
The true VIP of this project was my Magic Eraser. I’ve done murals before where I just used a pencil to erase marks where I messed up and that took forever. This was a lifesaver! At the end it quickly cleaned up all the 1′ pencil marks I drew on to get the scale correct. I messed up drawing the dinosaurs too so by having this to quickly clean up, it made the project go faster.
And then I continued with the dinosaurs following the same steps- drawing them on in pencil, painting in the pencil marks, doing a second coat, and then adding details. Each dinosaur took me about 30 minutes to draw out and then fill in with paint. The layering of paint was much quicker.
I was really happy with how it was turning out. I had all of the paint at home so this was a free project! To buy the wallpaper it would have been $200-$400 depending on how much I covered. I would have loved to use the paper, but it was fun to just see if I could recreate a wallpaper look with paint.
Side note, sorry the pictures are dark. I painted on a rainy day and didn’t take the time to re-take pictures when the sun had come out.
Here’s more of a close-up. Again, sorry for the dark pictures. I love that I was able to use colors that coordinate with the scallops behind the bed.
Overall, I think this is such a cute addition! Best of all, Don really loves it. His favorite thing in the world right now is dinosaurs. And when that changes, well, I can paint right over it with his next passion.
Would you try a wall mural like this?
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