How to Create Murals in 3D

Written by elizabeth vander heide
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How to Create Murals in 3D
A 3D mural can fool the human eye. (g image by laviniaparscuta from

Creating murals in 3D can seem like a challenging task. It doesn't have to be if you take the proper steps when planning and painting your wall. Understanding the basic fundamentals behind perspective drawing is essential before tackling 3D paintings. Several steps and principals must be followed in order to have good results. Using them will help you create murals that have depth and dimension and show off your creative side.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Plaster compound (optional)
  • Sandpaper (optional)
  • Latex-based primer
  • Measuring tape
  • Large-grid graph paper
  • Latex or acrylic paint
  • Paintbrushes in various sizes
  • Mixing pots
  • Chalk
  • Water-based varnish (optional)

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  1. 1

    Determine how light source, shading, vanishing point, size, colour and detail will affect each 3D mural. Start with an imaginary light source. It should be the same for all of your objects. Likewise, ensure shadows are uniform and on the opposite side of your light source. A vanishing point is essential to a 3D painting because it determines from where all the objects will pop out and is also the spot where all the objects will be at their smallest size. You can put your vanishing point anywhere you like. As your objects get closer to the vanishing point, colour should start to be less vibrant and detail should slowly disappear.

    How to Create Murals in 3D
    The vanishing point can be in the picture's centre. (rail station image by vnlit from
  2. 2

    Prepare the wall to be painted. If it has holes, fill them with plaster compound, and sand down rough edges. Prime the wall with a latex-based primer.

  3. 3

    Measure the wall's length and width. This ensures the picture you want to transfer onto the wall will have the correct dimensions.

  4. 4

    Draw your design for each mural on large-grid graph paper. Match the wall's measurements with the paper's measurements. For example, if the wall is 8 feet long and 6 feet high, then create a drawing that is 8 inches long by 6 inches high.


  5. 5

    Apply two coats of the major background colour to the wall. Use latex or acrylic paint. Allow the paint to dry between coats.

  6. 6

    Duplicate the picture on the paper on the wall. Use chalk to draw a grid on your wall. Draw the same amount of squares on your wall as are on your paper. Using measuring tape can help with this task. With chalk, copy the lines in each square on your paper into each corresponding square on the wall. When you finish, the picture on your wall should be exactly like the one on your paper.

  7. 7

    Apply two base coats to all objects of each mural with the corresponding colours of your choice. Allow time for the paint to dry between coats.

  8. 8

    Paint different values on the objects in each mural. Mix colours with white paint to create a highlight. Mix colours with black paint to create a shadow. Add highlights to the sections that are exposed to your imaginary light source. Add shadows to the opposite side of the objects.

  9. 9

    Paint all the details on the objects in your murals. Apply more detail to the objects in the foreground of each mural and less detail as the objects reach the vanishing point. The objects in the foreground should be the largest, and they should have the most colour and be the brightest objects.

  10. 10

    Apply a clear coat of water-based varnish over each mural if you want it to have added protection.

  11. 11

    Allow the finished murals to dry for 24 hours before resting furniture against their wall or walls.

Tips and warnings

  • When adding black paint to other colours for shading, use only a very small amount.
  • Dust sheets will help to protect floors and surrounding areas from paint splatters.
  • Always paint in a well-ventilated area.

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