How To Scale Up & Paint a Large Canvas Wall Mural or Art Banner

How To Scale Up & Paint a Large Canvas Wall Mural or Art Banner

Dabney Frake
Oct 23, 2014
(Image credit: Pablo Enriquez)

Just like rooms, parties need a large focal point - a statement piece that makes a huge impact. Not all of us are artists though, and need a little help creating compelling custom images. For this year’s Halloween party, we created a large art banner based on a vintage palmistry board game. While great for parties, this technique also translates well into wall murals and DIY art. It’s an easy and painless way to bang for the buck.

For this project, you can use any piece of fabric, but canvas is nice because it’s thick and paint won’t bleed through and onto your wall (which is nice, you know, if you don’t want to repaint the room after the project). Canvas is pretty inexpensive and you can buy a decent size piece for around $10. Drop cloths, which you can pick up at any hardware store, are also a readily available option.

What You Need


  • Canvas or Drop Cloth
  • Acrylic Paint


  • Paintbrushes
  • Pencil
  • Overhead Projector (like this one)
  • Ruler (optional)


(Image credit: Amazon)

1. First, find your image. For this party, we channeled an old-school seaside boardwalk fortune teller theme, and used a graphic from a vintage-style palm reading game from the turn on the century.

Tip: When picking the right image, it’s important not to overestimate your painting abilities. When in doubt, choose a fairly uncomplicated design that’s easy to recreate on canvas.

2. Print out a copy of your image on regular paper. Overhead projectors vary, so figure out what size image works for your equipment. Art-o-graph Tracers (like the one used here) will only accept smallish images — here a max of 5.5” square when printed out. Old school overhead projects will take larger 8.5 x 11 sheets.

(Image credit: Dabney Frake)

3. In a dark room, project the image onto a blank wall. Adjust your settings until you have the size that you want. Then tack up canvas so that the image fits within the paintable area. Once the image is in place, take care not to move the projector around. If you do, you'll hate yourself later when you have to try match up all the lines again. Word to the wise.

(Image credit: Dabney Frake)

4. Using a pencil, start tracing all the lines in the image. If the image is complex, feel free to simplify as you see fit. This process goes surprisingly fast, so don't be afraid to engage. And don’t worry about being too fastidious. You can paint over any mistakes later on down the road.

(Image credit: Dabney Frake)

5. Once your image is completely outlined, start painting. Start with large swaths of background colors first. You'll eventually add detail on top, so it's best to get the basic stuff out of the way as the first layer. If it's easier, use a smaller paintbrush when close to the lines, and a larger brush to cover large areas of one color.

(Image credit: Dabney Frake)
(Image credit: Dabney Frake)

6. Keep going until you've filled in the largest blocks of color.

(Image credit: Dabney Frake)

7. If have any straight lines, use a ruler to make sure they are level. Don't rely on the project image as there could be distortion. I used painters tape on the canvas to get the crisp red lines that frame the rest of the image.

(Image credit: Dabney Frake)

8. Once the background is in place, go back over and add any black outlines, shading and any other detail.

(Image credit: Pablo Enriquez)
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