Inexpensive DIY Large Scale Wall Art
Our next addition to Deck The Walls is a stylish watercolor print — and this large-scale wall art will set you back only about $30 (plus a little bit of hands-on time). Get the tutorial from Katie below, and don’t forget to link up your wall decor ideas here (and subscribe by RSS or email so you don’t miss the other great ideas we having coming up!)
How to create large scale wall art on a budget
by Katie from Upcycled Treasures
Hi Remodelaholics! I’m Katie, the blogger behind Upcycled Treasures and A Handcrafted Wedding where I share my love for all things handcrafted and re-loved. When you come into our home you will quickly discover that nearly everything has been DIYed in some form or another, and I hope to inspire you to create a space that reflects your own personality and style.
Today I’m going to share how you can make a big impact in a room on even the tiniest of budgets, by creating large scale wall art.
Although I purchased the engineering print and plywood for this project, everything else I already had on hand.
36 x 48 Engineering Print
Gloss Mod Podge
Wide Brush or Foam Roller
Mod Podge Roller or Credit Card
How to make a colored engineering print
Are you familiar with engineering prints? They are essentially oversized prints used for black and white line drawings or architectural plans, but they can also be your bff when it comes to creating large scale wall art. The three sizes available at Staples are 18 x 24, 24 x 36 and 36 x 48. Despite the fact that these are technically not suitable for photographs, I’m always impressed with the quality of my oversized family and travel photos. Best of all, the prints range from $2-8 for black and white copies and just $6-24 for the color versions!
Do you have a favorite family photo or image you took on your last vacation that you would love to incorporate into your home? If so then this just may be the perfect opportunity to do so!
Although we are renting, I decided it was finally time to add some personality to our master bedroom. One day while playing around on my computer I came across this beautiful image of the mountains I had purchased in a design bundle pack a few months prior, and was instantly inspired.
The first thing I did was crop the image onto a 36 x 48 document, knowing I could send it over to Staples to be printed as a color engineering print. The settings were tweaked since I wanted more saturated colors for our bedroom, and I then used this Photoshop app that gave the image a watercolor effect.
Aren’t the colors dreamy? The 36 x 48 color engineering print was ordered through the Staples website and within a couple hours and just $24 bucks later I had my pretty print, woo-hoo!
By the way, if you order a print online for store pickup you generally have to pay extra to pick it up the same day. However, if you call the Staples ahead of time and ask if they can have it ready the same day, they generally can and they won’t charge you extra either 🙂 You can also put the image you want to have printed onto a flash drive and take it to your local Staples for them print it out on the spot – depending on how busy they are.
Now I’ve gotta admit that I was a bit nervous about the outcome. I’ve purchased black and white engineering prints from Staples in the past with no issues, but never this large and never in color so I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. Either way I decided it was worth the risk and thankfully, it turned out better than expected!
My original plan was to add the engineering print to a blank canvas, but I as unable to find the size I wanted at a price I was willing to pay. Not to mention my impatience got the best of me, as it usually does. So instead I purchased some underlayment that was about $12 and got it cut down to 47 x 35 at the hardware store. I only used about half of it so the other half can be used for future projects, yay!
If you are going to use plywood, thicker plywood is easier to frame out, although it will also be heavier. Canvas would be the easiest/lightest option, or you could even use foam board.
How to attach a large print to plywood or canvas
I contemplated using Mod Podge or gel medium to attach the print to the wood, but in the end would up using spray adhesive. This was mainly due to the large size and I think it worked out really well.
To attach the print you will want to center the paper onto the plywood and then tape one edge of the paper to the back of the wood. You can then spray the plywood with spray adhesive and have a buddy help when rolling the paper down to prevent it from shifting or getting wrinkles. Afterwards, be sure to smooth the paper out as much as possible starting from one corner and working your way out.
Here is what the front of the plywood looked like once the print was attached:
And here is what it looked like from the back:
I’d recommend taping all of the edges to the back of the plywood to prevent any future tears.
Sealing the Print
Once your print is securely attached you can brush Mod Podge on top, which helps seal it into place. I used 2 coats of the gloss version, letting in dry in between, and love the added shine it gave the print.
The brush I used lost some bristles in the glue, but they were pretty easy to wipe off. However, if I were to do this again I would use a foam roller instead because that would help the Mod Podge go on evenly, and prevent streaking or the bristles from getting stuck in the glue.
You may notice that when the Mod Podge is added, some bubbles start to show up, but you can use a credit card to carefully smooth those out. I used the scraper from my Silhouette machine which worked like a charm. Just be careful when smoothing the paper out to avoid ripping the paper.
Once the Mod Podge has dried you can add some hanging hardware to the back or prop it up on a long piece of furniture. Or if you would like to add a frame, like we did, then you can follow along with this tutorial on framing out plywood.
Here it is hung up in our bedroom:
I just love how it turned out! So what do you think?
If you would rather create a smaller version then you may want to check out my 8 x 10 canvas art tutorial along with the free printable you can download.
This is such an easy way to fill those walls with some of your favorite travel, family, or wedding photos, and it could also make for a fantastical gift.
Have you used engineering prints to decorate your home?
Katie, thank you so much for sharing with us! A lovely piece at a lovely price!
Remodelaholics, visit Upcycled Treasures to see more of Katie’s talent — check out her creative workspace (aka office/craft room) and be sure to check out her latest DIY textured art tutorial, too!
Coming up in Deck The Walls:
a new modern art print for your walls!
For a large printable, what size file should your photo be? I got a great picture of my boys (just being themselves) using my phone one day, but I’m not sure how big I can blow it up to?
My wife loves the picture you used. Any chance we could get a copy of the photo with the water color effects you were able to create?
Hi there! I love the wood panels and lanterns that are framing this picture. Do you have a tutorial on how you did those because I would really love it. I have already bought half of the supplies I think I need just based on the pictures.
Katie shared the tutorial here on her site: https://mountainmodernlife.com/diy-modern-rustic-wall-hanging/