Large format digital photo wall murals are trendy, but paying to have a mural created and mounted can be expensive (especially multi-part murals on oversized paper), so why not make one yourself? This tutorial will walk you through creating a large wall mural using a digital photo.
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In my case, we wanted to have a multi-part mural –also called a “tiled print"—to cover a large blank wall in our living room. A single high-resolution photograph would be the subject. We would split the image into a few pieces and then mount these pieces on foam board. You can see what the final product will look like in Figure 1.
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Here is what you’ll need to get started:
High-resolution digital photograph
Computer with gimp installed (gnu image manipulation program)
Online photo printer or professional print shop
You’re going to need a photo. If you have taken some personal photos, make sure the resolution is appropriate for the print size. If you use a low-res photo, your result will be fuzzy! In my case, we split our image into four canvases – each 20” wide by 30” tall. In this case, we would want a minimum resolution of 2700x1800 – the higher the better.
If you need help with finding a photograph, you can buy them online at stock photography sites. If you think it will be a onetime purchase, a site like iStockPhoto.com works well. A photo is just $12. Other sites offer subscription packages that will let you download multiple photos on a monthly basis so do some research and see what will work best for you.
Next, you will want to purchase foam board and spray adhesive. Although you can find sites online that will both print and mount your pictures, be prepared to spend a small fortune! Since I am trying to keep this project under $100, we purchased 20”x30” foam board from the local arts and crafts store. You should be able to find spray adhesive there as well.
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Splitting Your Image
We will be using a free tool called GIMP to cut our image into the evenly sliced canvases (check out the References section for a link to the download site). Once you have GIMP installed, open it up and load your image.
Click Image -> Guides -> New Guide by percent
You will create guides to split your image into the number of pieces you want. For four pieces, use guides at 25%, 50% and 75%. For three pieces, use 33% and 66% and so on. Create guides for each section. You could also easily create an abstract mural using different sizes and shapes.
Click Image -> Scale Image
Change the measurement to inches and type in the total width of your image (in my case with four boards – each one 20" – I did 80" for the width. (Figure 2)
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Next, click Tools -> Transform -> Crop
In the Toolbox, deselect Fixed. Type in the size of your picture (80”x30” in my case). Drag the crop box around the image until you are happy with the placement. (Figure 3)
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Next, we will go to Image -> Transform -> Guillotine – this will perform the image split.
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Upload and Order Pictures
I used the Vivyx.com print service – the cost was about $14 per 20"x30" poster. If you want them to mount it professionally, there are several mounting options including various foam board and paper types.
Upload your photos to the printer of you are choosing and have them printed out. Once you have your prints, mount them to the foam board with the spray adhesive. Try your best to start at one end and work your way to the top to avoid puckering of the photo.
Once you have the photo mounted to the board, you can use something like a 3M command strip to mount the pictures to the walls. That is all there is to it! Feel free to share your experiences below in the comments section!