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Tutorial: Designing a Mural

While the software we use to print wallpaper at our factory is not set up to print murals, seasoned pattern makers have attempted to hack the process for personal projects. An artist must understand how our printing software prepares designs and then reverse engineer their original mural so that it will upload and print in a way that allows for a successful installation. 

This article offers just one of many possible ways one might approach this design hack. Review this blog article How to Create a Mural with Spoonflower Wallpaper for another clever way to approach this design challenge.

Again, our current technology is not programmed to print murals. This article is simply a suggested workaround for those artists with the skills to work within the parameters we introduce below.


How Wallpaper Prints: An introduction

The Basics of Designing a Mural

The Best Wallpaper for Murals

Design Articles for Reference


How Wallpaper Prints: An Introduction

In the article Wallpaper Terms and FAQ, we explain the importance of a 3/4" overlap for installation of wallpapers. This 3/4" is printed in addition to the 24" installation width and:

  • ensures the design is seamless as it repeats from one panel to the next.
  • simplifies matching the pattern during a Do-It-Yourself installation.

Because of the software setting used for printing, the design on this additional 3/4" right edge will always be printed with the same part of the design found on the 3/4" left edge of the same roll. This offers essential wiggle room since our wallpaper cutter, while precise, may not always be perfectly accurate.

Review Sizing Wallpaper Designs for a more thorough explanation and refer to the image below:


The Basics of Designing a Mural

Rather than uploading one complete image for you wallpaper, you will need to divide your final "mural" into distinct 24" wide designs that create the final image when installed side by side. Of course, each design will be the proper height of the final mural, so you won't be changing the vertical dimensions.

However, as we discussed above, for a mural spanning several rolls, when the left edge of a 24" design is printed along the right edge of that same design, it will look a bit odd. Therefore, with the small variations in precision while "cutting" each roll at the factory, we advise artists to include a small design failsafe in each individual panels they upload. This failsafe can be trimmed away prior to installation of the paper.

So, what is this failsafe?

We suggest that an artist barely shrink down the entire mural, and within each individual panel include a very small edge of the design from the adjacent panel designs from the left and right, as appropriate.

This hack will create the necessary overlap within your own designs prior to uploading, and will serve as a failsafe if there is any shifting of the pattern paper during the printing process.

Here's a visual of how the overlap works during installation:



A General Example

Imagine you want to create a 6' W x 9' L mural. The basics:

  • You will need to upload three 2' W x 9' tall designs that install to become the entire 6' width.
  • Because 150 dpi offers the sweet spot for resolution, you will want to size each design to measure 24" (60.96cm) wide x 108" tall, or 3600 pixels x 16200 pixels.
  • Each file should be saved to upload as a JPG or PNG.

We will call these panels 1, 2 and 3, and they will  eventually be installed from left to right.

When creating the three original design files, we recommend that you first shrink the entire design file  (equally in scale across all panels) so that you may add a 1/2 inch repeat/overlap from the neighboring panel on each side of each design and stay aligned to 3600 pixels x 16200 pixels.

Or, more specifically, after shrinking the overall design:

  • include 1/2" from the left of panel 2 to the right of panel 1.
  • include 1/2" from the right edge of panel 1 to the left edge of panel 2, and 1/2" from the left edge of panel 3 to the right edge of panel 2.
  • include 1/2" from the right edge of panel 2 to the left edge of panel 3.

NOTE: Overall, the original design width for panel 2 will only be 23" wide, while it will be 23.5" for panel 1 and 3, this means you will want to create the overall mural width in this example to 70" x 108" to account for the additional 2" we will print in our hack for the overlap.

PRO TIP: Each design gets a unique design ID, but you will also want to title them clearly so it is easy to know which roll is which from the packing slip.


The Best Wallpaper for Murals

Either do-it-yourself wallpaper will work for your mural project, but we have found that the matrix of Prepasted Removable Smooth may better withstand the pre-cutting of the paper over the Peel and Stick Wallpaper. Keep these basics in mind:

  • Use a very sharp razor when trimming each roll, replacing often
  • Trim away the mismatching repeat along the right edge
  • Leave the small overlap of the design that does match to help line up your installation

Review these installation articles to determine the best paper for your project:

How to Install Spoonflower Prepasted Removable Smooth Wallpaper

How to Install Spoonflower Peel and Stick Wallpaper


Design Articles for Reference

These three articles are helpful offerings for the basics of preparing files and saving them on your Design Layout Page:

Finally, while we do not offer design services at Spoonflower, we are always here to help as best we can. Don't hesitate to contact us with any questions.


See Also: Wallpaper Terms and FAQ


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