Local Mural Company Uses Ancient Drawing Practices

Hand Draw Murals or Projected?

Many people ask do we project the image or are our murals hand drawn.  This is an interesting question and I am always surprised at how often I get asked that.  The answer is we draw them by hand but use Ancient Drawing Practices with some modern tools.  Even though we could project images – we prefer, and in most cases are forced, to use other methods.  After the initial consult and the client agrees on an image or idea, most murals are mocked up in a program like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, sent for approval to the client and hand drawn onto the substrate (surface) where the mural will reside.  There are situations that require a great deal of precision; say in a complex corporate logo or mural containing multiple vanishing points and architecture.  For those we use the age old style of gridding.  The mock up will usually have a 1 inch grid on it.  The mural walls will be laid out with a similar (1 foot) grid using either a chalk snap line or pencil and level.  So the answer is, Yes we Hand Draw Murals!  Sometimes with the help of some tried and true methods.


These methods to Hand Draw Murals date back to ancient times.

Here is an excerpt from an article by Nicole Silvester Sep 29, 2009 detailing the preperation of tombs in Egypt:


Ancient Drawing Practices

Ancient Egyptians Used Grid Lines


“In the New Kingdom tombs of the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens, the decorating could not begin until the tombs had been cut into the rock. The rough walls were then smoothed and any remaining cracks and chips were filled in with plaster. The whole wall would be covered with a thin layer of plaster to give an even white surface to work on. The next step was to mark the walls with red grid lines. Draftsmen did this by dipping string in red ochre, a pigment used to color paint. The string was held taut in the position that a line was to be marked. When the draftsman plucked the string like it was the string of an instrument, it would snap against the wall and leave a perfectly straight red line, just like a modern chalkline. The grid lines would help the draftsmen to be sure they drew the figures the right size and proportion. Different parts of the body had specific sizes in relation to each other in Egyptian art. Using the grid in this way, a draftsman would draw the rough outlines of the painting in red.”


Albrecht Dürer and Van Gogh used a grid frame machine as well.  Here is part of a letter to his brother where Van Gogh explains its function. –


Ancient Drawing Practices

Drawing Machine Designed by Vincent Van Gogh

“It (the frame) consists of two long stakes; the frame may be attached to them either upright or horizontally with strong wooden pegs.

So on the shore or in the meadow or in the fields one can took through it as through a window, the vertical lines and the perpendicular line of the frame and the diagonal lines and the point of intersection, or else the division in squares, certainly give a few basic markers, with the help of which one can make a firm drawing, from the indication of the main lines and proportions – at least for those who have some instinct for perspective and some understanding of the reason why and the manner in which perspective gives an apparent change of direction to the lines and a change of size to the lines and to the whole mass.


So that’s how we get started for anyone who might have been interested.


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In the next post we’ll talk about preparing the surface and what types of surfaces we paint on.

For more information on our murals check out our portfolio page or give us a call at 813-758-5853.