Monday, September 30, 2013

Scale and Measurement: Creating a Mural from a Sketch

I just finished 2 ½ hours with a reporter doing an article about the New Vision Heron Mural.  A surprising amount of our conversation had to do with preserving the characteristics of the preliminary artwork in the mural.  How do you scale up drawings?  
For this project I began by overlaying a grid of ½” squares onto a copy of the sketch, and then drew 12 inch squares on the mural.  This creates a      ½” scale      (½” = 1’).

On the sketch I found where the edge of the heron intersected a grid line, and put a dot on that spot, on the mural’s grid.  Going to the next place where that edge crossed a grid line, I transferred another point to the mural grid.  As I worked around the drawing, marking the mural and then connecting the dots, the tiny drawing was faithfully rendered.

My pet peeve about many murals is that they don’t look like paintings.  Accurately rendering the sketch is my best attempt to make the mural look like art, so I’m taking pains to get the lines, marks and distortion in the right spots.

 I continue the same procedure for the distortion speckles in the background.  On a mural it may not be visible to drive by viewers, but it is a part of the approved design…it also creates a texture in the background, rather than simply having flat planes of color.
This drawing was approved by the town’s Historic District Commission. All the contributions were given to see this drawing made into a mural.  There is accountability to the community and all the donors to render the sketch accurately!
I also want to improve on the drawing by making the steps in background colors smoother and cleaner:  I’ve spent 12 hours mixing colors to achieve that. 

These samples were created using measuring spoons, converting to cups for painting the fields of color in the 30’ x 12’ finished mural.  I also make a sample chart using the mass quantity mixtures to verify accuracy.
Studies often surpass finished artworks in charm and spontaneity— translating that joy to a large scale work is a challenge.  These mathematic functions are only the foundation for accomplishing that.  All of your skill will be called on to fill in the gaps, once your proportions and color are properly translated.
Best wishes, and don’t be afraid to GO LARGE!


  1. Thanks Newmoon! The everyday aspect of completing a large work has kicked in...

  2. I'm so looking forward to see your progress on this piece.

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks Mohamed! I'm trying to post some useful stuff, but how about those html skills to resize those pics? That's all you man.

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