Hi everyone, thank you so much for the nice comments on the paint-by-numbers wall and checking out my link for the Creating with the Stars contest. Obviously, I didn’t make the cut or there would be a post that contained only a video of me hyperventilating. Oh well, there is always next year!
I had several requests for some details on how I actually completed the paint by number mural, so I am here to accommodate. The first thing I will say is that it is not “hard” to do, but it takes a lot of time so it is quite a commitment.
An awesome paint-by-numbers inspiration picture.
An electronic projector…not the old school kind.
Several artist paint brushes, in different sizes. I found that square-shaped brushes worked the best for getting clean lines and for detail areas.
Acrylic craft paint
1. Find your inspiration image. I started looking online for something that I thought would fit our color scheme, our theme and whether or not I liked it. You’ve all seen the outcome, but here is another one that I considered. I thought that this fall scene would have more overall appeal, especially in the summer when we might think that a snow scene would look weird. Ultimately, I decided not to go with this as I preferred the colors in the one I ended up choosing, and this one had a lot more detail. It would have taken me even longer to complete!
2. Once you have found your image, print your image in color. I found that printing it in an 11×17 size (rectangular was better for my wall size) worked well. Once it is printed, it’s time to get out the fine point Sharpie marker and start outlining each color. I apologize for the crappy iPhone pic but this gives you an idea of what it will look like completely outlined.
Note: you might be wondering why there are two deer in the picture above. We felt that the deer on the right would be too close to the center and get cut off when we eventually installed our fireplace. Therefore, I printed two sheets, cut the deer out with an Xacto knife and taped him down in the new location, a little further to the left.
3. The next step is to start assigning colors. I knew it would quickly get complicated trying to figure that out, so there had to be a system. Hey, it’s called a Paint-by-Numbers for a reason. I wanted to use a system though, so came up with this: 0 is white, 100′s are grays, 200′s are blues, 300′s are browns, 400′s are greens and so on. Then it was time to break it down further…101 is silver gray, 102 is medium gray, 103 is charcoal gray, etc. Here is a closer view of how I labeled each section with a number. Once you’re done labeling, scan it back to your computer.
4. The next step is to get that baby up on the wall. You’ll have your image saved on your computer, so at this point you’ll need to borrow or find an electronic projector that will project your image on the wall. I borrowed one from work, hooked it up to my laptop and adjusted it carefully so it covered as much of the wall as possible. So why do I insist on an electronic projector? First, the detail on an electronic projector is so much better than the old-school transparency projects. Secondly, you can use a different sized image, i.e. an 11×17 rectangular image rather than the standard 8.5×11 size. Lastly, the nicer electronic projectors have something called auto-keystoning. Basically, that just means that when you project something on the wall, the shape of your image starts to narrow at the bottom the farther away you get from your destination. When it aut0-keystones, it automatically returns your shape back into a perfect rectangle. Below is a quick shot of my progress as I’m transferring it to the wall.
At this point, I still had to pull it back to get it wider and take up the full wall space. It cut off some of my image, but it worked out okay in the end. Then, use your pencil to trace your lines on the wall. I’ve seen other tutorials where they used a grid system on the sheet and then on the wall to re-create the image without using a projector, but honestly, that just seems a whole lot harder.
5. Here’s the fun part, go buy some paint! At first I thought I would use sample pots from Lowe’s, but I knew that would add up quickly and for some of the least used colors, I would use just a fraction of the paint. I decided then to buy acrylic craft paint from Hobby Lobby. There was a huge selection so I just picked out the colors I thought most closely matched, or the colors I liked best. The craft paint is all within a close price range, anywhere from $0.97 to $1.37 each, and I bought it when it was all 30% off. All together, I spent just under $40 for paint, and ending up returning about $12 of that in unused paint. Here is my collection of paints, all corralled in a shoe box. I may have slight obsession with arranging things by color, including my craft paint and all the clothes in my closet :). Another handy tip is to write the color code on the bottom of each bottle, so you don’t get confused about which color is which, especially if some the shades are pretty close.
If the colors along several brands were similar, I tended to go with the cheaper paint, and let me tell you, BAD DECISION! The paint that was forty cents more covered in one coat, but the cheaper paints took two coats. Not good, my friends. By that time I had painted my ass off and I was tired of doing second coats.
6. Get paintin’. I started with number 100 and tried to find all the sections with that number and then just worked my way up. I inevitably missed some and had to go back later to fill in areas, but it helped to keep me organized. I also found that it was helpful to have a larger square brush and a smaller square brush for each color. The larger brush helped me cover big areas more quickly and the smaller one helped with the detail areas.
7. The final step is to pry your fingers out of the permanent claw you got from holding a paint brush for weeks on end and celebrate your finished product!
I love that it really brings some much needed color and vibrance to our basement living room. Plus, it’s a conversation piece and it’s just plain fun. I don’t believe in taking my interiors all that seriously, so I love having quirky and off-the-wall elements all over my house. This definitely fits the bill.
So how long did it take? OMG, I don’t even like to think of how many hours I spent in the basement. Here is the best way I can think to quantify it, as I ended up listening/halfway-watching several TV shows while I painted. So, to do a wall that is approximately 14-feet wide, it will take you:
3 seasons of Scandal
4 episodes of Parenthood
8 episodes of Breaking Bad
and several movies.
Yeah, that’s scary. Not for the faint of heart, but for the steady of hand. Catch you all later!