Mural Painting Guide: Techniques & Step-by-Step Process
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 8 min read


  1. Choose the right wall
  2. Select a design for your mural
  3. Prep the wall
  4. Gather your painting supplies
  5. Transfer your design onto the wall
  6. Start painting your mural
  7. Add details and shades
  8. Seal your mural
  9. Clean up and maintain your mural
  10. Troubleshoot common mural painting challenges

If you've ever wondered how to use painting for a mural but didn't know where to start, you're in luck! This blog is your step-by-step guide to mural painting, filled with practical advice and handy tips based on real experiences. We'll walk through everything from choosing the right wall to tackling common mural painting challenges.

Choose the Right Wall

The first step in mural painting is finding the perfect wall. Not every wall is suited to a mural, so it's important to make a smart choice. Here's what you need to keep in mind:

  • Surface: Smooth, flat walls are the best for murals. They allow for easier application and a better display of your design. Textured walls can distort your mural and make painting more difficult.
  • Lighting: Consider how much light the wall gets. A wall with good lighting can make your mural stand out, while a dimly lit wall can obscure your hard work.
  • Size: The size of the wall matters too. You want enough space to bring your design to life, but not so much that the mural overwhelms the room.
  • Location: Lastly, think about where the wall is. A mural in a high traffic area can get more attention, but it's also more prone to wear and tear.

Remember, the right wall can enhance your mural and make the painting process smoother. So take your time, consider your options, and choose wisely!

Select a Design for Your Mural

Now that you've chosen your wall, it's time for the fun part: selecting a design. This is where your creativity can run wild, but remember, your design should also complement the wall and the room. Here are some things to consider:

  • Theme: What's the mood you want to convey? Whether it's calm and serene, vibrant and energetic, or anything in between, your theme will set the tone for your entire mural.
  • Color Palette: The colors you choose can make a huge difference. You'll want to select hues that not only fit your theme, but also match the color scheme of the room.
  • Complexity: Depending on your painting skills, you might want to keep your design simple. However, if you're up for a challenge, a more complex design can be incredibly rewarding!

You might also want to sketch out your design on paper before you start painting. This can help you visualize your mural and make any necessary adjustments. After all, it's easier to erase a line on paper than it is on a wall!

Remember, this is your mural, so choose a design that you love. After all, you'll be the one admiring it every day!

Prep the Wall

Ever tried to paint on a surface that's rough, dirty, or chipped? Not an easy task, right? The same goes for your mural. You'll need to prep the wall before you even think about picking up a brush. So, what does prepping involve? Here's a step-by-step guide:

  1. Inspect the Wall: Look for any cracks, chips, or rough patches. You'll want to fix these before you start painting.
  2. Clean the Wall: Use a mild detergent and warm water to scrub away any dirt or grime. Remember to let the wall dry thoroughly before proceeding.
  3. Sand the Wall: If your wall is rough, you might want to sand it down to create a smooth canvas. Don't forget to wear a mask while sanding!
  4. Prime the Wall: A coat of primer can help your paint adhere better and make your colors pop. Just make sure the primer is completely dry before you start painting.

Yes, prepping the wall takes time and effort, but trust me, it's worth it. It's like laying the foundation for a house - do it right, and everything that comes after will be a lot smoother!

Gather Your Painting Supplies

What's a painter without their brushes, right? Or in this case, a muralist without their mural painting supplies! Here's your checklist of supplies you'll need when learning how to use painting for a mural:

  1. Paint: Acrylic paint is a popular choice for murals because it's versatile and dries quickly. You'll need a variety of colors, so consider buying a set or mixing your own.
  2. Brushes: Get a range of sizes, from wide brushes for large areas to small ones for details. Synthetic brushes are a good option as they're durable and easy to clean.
  3. Rollers and Paint Trays: For painting large areas quickly, rollers are your best friend. Pair them with a paint tray for easy access.
  4. Palette: This is where you'll mix your colors. You can buy a palette or use a flat piece of plastic or glass.
  5. Pencil and Eraser: For sketching your design onto the wall before painting.
  6. Ladder: Unless you're painting a floor mural, you'll probably need to reach higher areas.

You don't need to break the bank buying top-of-the-line supplies, especially if you're just starting out. The most important thing is to feel comfortable and have fun while learning how to use painting for a mural. So, gather your supplies and let's get ready to create!

Transfer Your Design Onto the Wall

Now that you've gathered all your supplies, let's get down to the real work of how to use painting for a mural. The first big step? Transferring your design onto the wall. Here's a step-by-step process to guide you:

  1. Sketch Your Design: Firstly, get a clear idea of your design. Sketch it out on paper, noting where the main elements will go. It's like a roadmap, guiding you on where to paint.
  2. Measure and Mark: Measure your wall and lightly mark where the main elements of your design will go. This helps to keep everything in proportion.
  3. Draw the Outline: Now, using your pencil, draw the outline of your design onto the wall. Don't worry about details yet; focus on the big picture.

Sounds like quite a bit of work, doesn't it? But remember, a good preparation makes a big difference. By transferring your design onto the wall first, you're setting yourself up for a smoother painting process. So, it's worth taking the time to get it right. Ready to move on to the next exciting part? Let's grab those brushes and dive into the world of colors!

Start Painting Your Mural

With your design now on the wall, it's time to start painting your mural. Let's explore how to use painting for a mural:

  1. Use the Right Brush: Different parts of your mural will need different brushes. For larger areas, use a bigger brush. For details, go for the smaller ones. So, keep a variety of brushes handy.
  2. Start with a Base Coat: Begin with the larger areas and apply a base coat. This is like laying a foundation—it helps the rest of the colors to stand out and stay on the wall.
  3. Add the Colors: Start filling in your design with colors. Don't rush this step. Enjoy the process, watch your mural come to life!

Remember, painting a mural is not a sprint, it's a marathon. It might take longer than you expect, and that's okay. The key is to keep going, keep painting. And before you know it, you'll have a beautiful mural to show off. Ready to add the finishing touches?

Add Details and Shades

Now that you've got your base colors down, it's time to dive deeper into how to use painting for a mural by adding details and shades to your artwork. Here's how:

  1. Observe and Imagine: Look at your mural and imagine where the light would naturally hit if your design were a 3D object. These areas would be your highlights, while the areas hidden from the light would be your shadows.
  2. Add Highlights: Use a lighter shade of your base color to paint the highlights. Remember, less is more. You can always add, but it's harder to take away.
  3. Paint the Shadows: Use a darker shade of your base color to paint the shadows. These will add depth and make your mural appear more lifelike.
  4. Add Details: Finally, add intricate details to your mural using a fine brush. These could be anything from patterns on a dress to leaves on a tree.

Adding details and shades is what separates a good mural from a great one. It's all about the small things—the way the light hits, the shadow cast, the tiny patterns. This is your chance to really show off your artistic skills and bring your mural to life.

Seal Your Mural

Once your mural is complete and you're happy with the details and shades, it's time to seal it. Sealing is a key step in how to use painting for a mural because it protects your artwork from the elements, be it sun, rain, or that pesky neighborhood kid with a knack for graffiti.

  1. Let It Dry: Let your mural dry completely. This could take anywhere from a few hours to a few days, depending on the paint and the weather conditions.
  2. Select a Sealant: Choose a sealant suitable for the type of paint you used and the wall surface. Typically, a clear, water-based sealant works for most murals.
  3. Apply the Sealant: Using a large brush or a roller, apply the sealant evenly over the mural. Make sure to cover every inch of the painted area. You don't want any of your hard work left unprotected.
  4. Let It Dry: Again, you'll need to let the sealant dry completely before you do anything else with the wall. The drying time will depend on the type of sealant you used.

Sealing your mural might seem like a chore, but trust me, it's worth it. It will keep your artwork looking fresh and vibrant for years to come. Plus, it gives you that glossy, professional finish that says, "Hey, a real artist did this!"

Clean Up and Maintain Your Mural

Now that you've sealed your masterpiece, it's time to clean up your workspace and learn how to maintain your mural. Remember, knowing how to use painting for a mural isn't just about the art—it's also about taking care of the art.

  1. Pick Up Your Paints: Collect all your paints, brushes, and other tools. Rinse off your brushes and rollers, and seal your paint containers tightly. This way, you're ready to go for your next mural project.
  2. Clean the Wall Base: There might be paint drips at the base of the wall. Use a damp cloth to wipe away these unwanted splatters. But remember, wait until your mural is completely dry before you do this.
  3. Inspect Your Mural Regularly: Over time, your mural may face wear and tear due to weather or other factors. Regularly inspect your mural for any signs of damage such as chipping or fading.
  4. Touch Up as Needed: If you see any damage during your inspections, don't panic. Small touch-ups can usually fix these issues. Keep some leftover paint for this purpose.

Cleaning up and maintaining might not be the most fun part of mural painting, but it's necessary. After all, you want your mural to stay looking its best for as long as possible, right?

Troubleshoot Common Mural Painting Challenges

Like any art form, mural painting can come with its own set of challenges. But don't worry, we've got your back. Let's explore some common issues you might face when learning how to use painting for a mural, and most importantly, how to solve them.

  1. Color Bleeding: This happens when one color spreads into another unintentionally. To avoid this, allow each color to dry fully before painting adjacent areas.
  2. Cracking or Chipping: This is often due to weather conditions or the quality of the paint. To prevent this, make sure you're using high-quality, outdoor-grade paint and seal your mural properly once complete.
  3. Design Transfer Difficulties: If you're having trouble transferring your design onto the wall, try using a projector or a grid method. Both techniques can help you scale your design accurately.
  4. Difficulty Blending Colors: Blending can be tricky, especially for beginners. Practice your blending techniques on a separate piece of paper before applying them to your mural.

Remember, every mural artist faces challenges. The key is to remain patient and keep practicing. With time and experience, you'll learn to overcome these hurdles and create stunning murals with ease. After all, practice makes perfect, right?

If you enjoyed this comprehensive guide on mural painting and want to take your skills even further, we highly recommend checking out 'Creative Mixed Processes: From Traditional Sketches to Large Murals' workshop by Bryan Sánchez M. This workshop will not only deepen your understanding of mural painting techniques but also guide you through the creative process behind transforming traditional sketches into stunning large-scale murals.