10 Tips for Better Urban Graffiti Murals with Spray Paint
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 10 min read


  1. Select the right spray paint
  2. Plan your mural design
  3. Practice your strokes
  4. Layer colors effectively
  5. Use stencils for precision
  6. Incorporate the environment
  7. Respect local laws and community
  8. Protect yourself while painting
  9. Clean up after yourself
  10. Continue learning and practicing

Ever walked down the street, looked up, and seen a vibrant splash of art that just made your day better? That's the power of urban graffiti murals. And the magic behind these works of art? Spray paint. This blog is for those of you looking to add a little color to the world, to get better at creating urban graffiti murals with spray paint. So, let's dive into 10 tips that will help you step up your game.

Select the right spray paint

The first step—like with any artist—is to choose your medium. In this case, the spray paint. Not all spray paints are created equal. Some are thin and runny, others thick and textured. Choose the one that fits your style and the effect you're going for.

  • High Pressure versus Low Pressure: High-pressure cans dispense paint quickly, which is great for filling in large areas. On the other hand, low-pressure cans give you more control, perfect for detailed work.
  • Matte versus Glossy: The finish of the paint can drastically affect the look of your mural. Matte paint has a dull and non-reflective finish, while glossy paint shines and stands out. Consider the mood and style of your artwork when making your choice.
  • Quality: As you're getting better at urban graffiti murals with spray paint, it's tempting to go for the cheapest cans. However, investing in higher quality paint can make a world of difference. Brands like Montana Gold and Ironlak are renowned in the graffiti world for their superior coverage and wide color range.

Remember, you're not stuck with one type of paint. Mix and match to create depth and texture in your mural. Happy painting!

Plan your mural design

Now that you've chosen your spray paint, let's move on to planning your mural. This step is all about letting your creativity flow, but within a structure. You wouldn't build a house without a blueprint, right? Same goes for your mural. Here are few steps to help guide you:

  • Sketch it Out: Whether it's on a napkin or a sketchbook, start by drawing a rough idea of what you want your mural to look like. This will serve as your roadmap, helping you visualize the final outcome.
  • Choose Your Colors: Now that you have a design, it's time to choose your colors. Consider the mood you want to communicate with your mural. Warm colors can evoke feelings of happiness and energy, while cool colors can create a calm and soothing atmosphere. Don't be afraid to experiment!
  • Scale it Up: Translating a small sketch to a large wall can be tricky. Break your design down into manageable sections or grids. This can help make the process less overwhelming and more accurate.

Remember, the goal isn't to create a perfect plan, but rather a guide that will help you stay on track while you're up on that ladder, spray can in hand. Because, let's face it, it's easy to lose track of the big picture when you're focused on the tiny details. And that's the key to getting better at urban graffiti murals with spray paint—always keep an eye on the big picture.

Practice your strokes

Just like learning to write, getting better at urban graffiti murals with spray paint is all about mastering the basics. The basics, in this case, involve practicing your strokes until they become second nature. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Start with Simple Shapes: Begin with basic shapes like circles, squares, and lines. Once you're comfortable with these, you can move on to more complex forms.
  • Try Different Techniques: There's more to spray painting than just pressing down on the nozzle. Try techniques like flaring (starting close to the wall and then moving the can away) or fading (starting and ending your stroke off the wall).
  • Control Your Distance: The distance between the can and the wall can drastically affect your stroke. Generally, holding the can closer to the wall will result in a narrower, more concentrated line, while holding it further away will create a wider, diffused stroke.

Remember, practice makes perfect. It might sound a bit cliché, but the more you practice, the more comfortable you'll get with handling the can and controlling your strokes. And the better you get at this, the better your urban graffiti murals will be. So, get out there and start practicing!

Layer colors effectively

Color is the lifeblood of any work of art, and urban graffiti murals are no different. One of the most important aspects of getting better at urban graffiti murals with spray paint is learning how to layer colors effectively. Here's how you can do just that:

  • Understand Color Theory: Knowing which colors complement each other and which ones clash can make a world of difference to your murals. Take some time to learn about primary, secondary, and tertiary colors, and how they interact with each other.
  • Start With a Solid Base: Before you start layering, make sure you have a solid base color. This will act as your canvas, and the right base can enhance the colors you layer on top.
  • Use Transparent Colors for Layering: Transparent colors are great for layering as they allow the colors underneath to show through, creating a more dynamic and vibrant effect.
  • Give Each Layer Time to Dry: Patience is key when layering colors. Let each layer dry completely before adding the next one to avoid unwanted mixing or smudging.

Layering colors can seem daunting at first, but with practice and patience, you'll soon find it's one of the most exciting parts of creating urban graffiti murals with spray paint. So, grab those cans and start experimenting with color today!

Use stencils for precision

Stencils are a graffiti artist's secret weapon. When it comes to getting better at urban graffiti murals with spray paint, using stencils can provide that much-needed precision and consistency. Let's explore how you can use stencils to improve your mural art:

  • Design Your Own Stencils: Don't limit yourself to store-bought stencils. Create your own designs to add a personal touch to your murals. Use thick cardstock or plastic sheets for durability.
  • Secure Your Stencil: Ensure your stencil stays in place while you're spraying. Use painter's tape to secure the stencil to the wall. This prevents unwanted smudging and keeps your lines crisp.
  • Practice Spray Control: It's all about control when using stencils. Practice spraying with different pressures and angles to get the desired effect. Remember, less is more. It's easier to add another layer of paint than to remove an excess one.
  • Clean Your Stencils: Keep your stencils clean to ensure clear lines every time you use them. A quick wipe with a damp cloth after each use can keep your stencil in top shape.

Working with stencils offers endless possibilities for creativity and precision. So, why wait? Start incorporating stencils into your urban graffiti mural art today and see the difference they make!

Incorporate the environment

When it comes to urban graffiti murals, the environment around you isn't just a backdrop—it's part of your canvas. Therefore, getting better at urban graffiti murals with spray paint isn't just about mastering your spray can, it's also about learning to see and use your surroundings in creative ways. Let's delve into how you can do this:

  • Use Existing Structures: Instead of seeing walls, pipes, or windows as obstacles, consider them as opportunities for adding depth or interest to your mural. For example, a window can become the eyes of a portrait, or a pipe might transform into a towering tree trunk.
  • Play with Light and Shadow: Pay attention to how sunlight or street lights hit your chosen wall. You can use this to your advantage to create stunning effects in your mural. For instance, a well-placed splash of bright color can appear to glow at sunset.
  • Consider the Bigger Picture: Your mural is part of a larger scene. Think about how it will interact with its surroundings. Will it complement the colors of the nearby buildings? Will it stand out or blend in? These considerations can help you create a piece that truly belongs.
  • Respect Nature: If there are plants or trees around your painting area, try not to harm them. You could even incorporate them into your mural design. A trailing vine, for example, might become a flowing river in your artwork.

Remember, the best urban graffiti is not just about the mural itself—it's about how the mural interacts and harmonizes with its surroundings. By incorporating the environment into your art, you're not only improving your skills but also creating a piece that resonates with the urban landscape.

Respect local laws and community

Creating urban graffiti murals with spray paint is a form of artistic expression, but it's also important to remember that not every space is a canvas waiting for your art. Respect for local laws and the community is key to getting better at urban graffiti murals with spray paint. Here's how you can ensure you're being respectful:

  • Know the Law: Local laws regarding graffiti vary widely. In some places, it's illegal without the property owner's permission. In others, designated areas are provided for street artists. Do your homework and make sure you're not breaking any laws. This will save you from potential fines and legal trouble.
  • Ask for Permission: If you've found a great wall but you're unsure who owns it, take the time to find out and ask for permission. Property owners might be more receptive to your art than you think, especially if you present them with a clear plan for your mural.
  • Respect Public Spaces: Parks, schools, and community centers are shared spaces that belong to everyone. If your mural is going to be in a public place, consider the impact it will have on the people who use that space. Will it enhance their experience or detract from it?
  • Consider the Community: The best urban graffiti murals are those that resonate with the people who live and work in the area. If you're painting in a neighborhood that's not your own, take some time to learn about its history and culture. This will help you create a piece that adds to the community rather than detracting from it.

Remember, being a street artist is about more than just creating art—it's about being part of a community. By respecting local laws and the people around you, you'll not only avoid trouble, but you'll also gain the respect and appreciation of those who see your work.

Protect yourself while painting

While you're busy getting better at urban graffiti murals with spray paint, it's easy to forget about your own safety. But remember: your health and well-being are just as important as the art you're creating. To ensure you're protected while painting, consider the following:

  • Wear Protective Gear: Always wear a mask when spray painting to protect yourself from harmful fumes. Consider using gloves to prevent paint from irritating your skin, and safety glasses to shield your eyes from spray.
  • Choose a Safe Location: Avoid painting in places with high traffic, uneven ground, or other safety hazards. Be aware of your surroundings and make sure you're not putting yourself at risk.
  • Paint in a Well-Ventilated Area: Spray paint fumes can build up quickly, especially in confined spaces. Always paint in a well-ventilated area to ensure you're not inhaling toxic fumes.
  • Stay Hydrated: Painting can be physically demanding, especially if you're working on a large mural. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and take breaks when needed.

By taking these precautions, you can ensure that your passion for creating urban graffiti murals doesn't come at the cost of your health. After all, you can't create your best work if you're not feeling your best, right?

Clean up after yourself

As you're getting better at urban graffiti murals with spray paint, it's important to remember that being an artist also means respecting your workspace. This means cleaning up after yourself. Here are a few guidelines to help you leave your workspace as clean as—or cleaner than—you found it:

  • Dispose of Spray Cans Properly: Empty spray paint cans should be disposed of responsibly. Many cities have special recycling programs for aerosol cans. Check your local waste disposal guidelines to make sure you're doing it right.
  • Look After Your Equipment: Clean your caps and nozzles after each use. This not only extends their lifespan but also helps to prevent blockages and maintain a consistent spray.
  • Remove Overspray: Use a drop cloth or masking tape to protect surrounding areas from overspray. If you do get paint where it's not supposed to be, clean it up as soon as possible.
  • Respect the Space: If you're using a public or shared space, make sure it's clean and tidy when you leave. Remember, you're not the only one who uses it.

Remember, being a great artist doesn't just mean creating great art. It also means being respectful of the spaces where you create. And who knows, maybe your careful cleanup will inspire the next person who uses the space to do the same!

Continue learning and practicing

When it comes to getting better at urban graffiti murals with spray paint, learning and practicing are key. You can never stop growing as an artist. Here are some ways to keep on improving:

  • Stay Curious: Always be open to new ideas and techniques. The world of graffiti art is always evolving, and so should you. Even the most experienced artists never stop learning.
  • Practice Regularly: The more you use your spray cans, the better you'll get. Try to paint a little bit every day, or at least as often as you can.
  • Seek Feedback: Don't be afraid to ask for critiques. Other artists, friends, or even people passing by your mural can give you valuable insights into how you can improve your work.
  • Experiment: Try new things! Use different kinds of spray paint, try a new style of lettering, or experiment with a new color scheme. You never know what might spark your next big idea.

Remember, every artist was once a beginner. What separates the great ones is their commitment to always keep learning and practicing. So, pick up that can of spray paint and start your journey to getting better at urban graffiti murals today!

If you enjoyed our "10 Tips for Better Urban Graffiti Murals with Spray Paint" blog and want to take your mural skills to the next level, don't miss the workshop 'Creative Mixed Processes: From Traditional Sketches to Large Murals' by Bryan Sánchez M. This workshop will guide you through the process of creating stunning murals, combining traditional sketching techniques with innovative spray paint methods. Elevate your urban graffiti game and make your mark on the cityscape!