In 16th-century Europe, oil painting on canvas arose as an easier method for mural painting. The advantage was that the artwork could be completed in the artist's studio and later transported to its destination and there attached to the wall or ceiling. Oil paint may be a less satisfactory medium for murals because of its lack of brilliance in colour. Also, the pigments are yellowed by the binder or are more easily affected by atmospheric conditions.
A consultation usually leads to detailed design and layout of the proposed mural with a price quote that the client approves before the muralist starts on the work. The area to be painted can be gridded to match the design allowing the image to be scaled accurately step by step. In some cases, the design is projected straight onto the wall and traced with pencil before painting begins. Some muralists will paint directly without any prior sketching, preferring the spontaneous technique.
Once completed the mural can be given coats of varnish or protective acrylic glaze to protect the work from UV rays and surface damage.
In modern, quick form of muralling, young enthusiasts also use POP clay mixed with glue or bond to give desired models on canvas board. The canvas is later set aside to let the clay dry. Once dried, the canvas and the shape can be painted with your choice of colors and later coated with varnish.
As an alternative to a hand-painted or airbrushed mural, digitally printed murals can also be applied to surfaces. Already existing murals can be photographed and then be reproduced in near-to-original quality.
Murals are important in that they bring art into the public sphere. Due to the size, cost, and work involved in creating a mural, muralists must often be commissioned by a sponsor. Often it is the local government or a business, but many murals have been paid for with grants of patronage. For artists, their work gets a wide audience who otherwise might not set foot in an art gallery. A city benefits by the beauty of a work of art.
Many people like to express their individuality by commissioning an artist to paint a mural in their home. This is not an activity exclusively for owners of large houses. A mural artist is only limited by the fee and therefore the time spent on the painting; dictating the level of detail; a simple mural can be added to the smallest of walls.
The current trend for feature walls has increased commissions for muralists in the UK. A large hand-painted mural can be designed on a specific theme, incorporate personal images and elements and may be altered during the course of painting it. The personal interaction between client and muralist is often a unique experience for an individual not usually involved in the arts.
In the 1980s, illusionary wall painting experienced a renaissance in private homes. The reason for this revival in interior design could, in some cases be attributed to the reduction in living space for the individual. Faux architectural features, as well as natural scenery and views, can have the effect of 'opening out' the walls. Densely built-up areas of housing may also contribute to people's feelings of being cut off from nature in its free form. A mural commission of this sort may be an attempt by some people to re-establish a balance with nature.
Commissions of murals in schools, hospitals, and retirement homes can achieve a pleasing and welcoming atmosphere in these caring institutions. Murals in other public buildings, such as public houses are also common.
Many homeowners choose to display the traditional art and culture of their society or events from their history in their homes. Ethnic murals have become an important form of interior decoration. Warli painting murals are becoming a preferred mode of wall decor in India. Warli painting is an ancient Indian art form in which the tribal people used to depict different phases of their life on the walls of their mud houses.
Tile murals are murals made out of stone, ceramic, porcelain, glass and or metal tiles that are installed within, or added onto the surface of an existing wall. They are also inlaid into floors. Mural tiles are painted, glazed, sublimation printed (as described below) or more traditionally cut out of stone, ceramic, mosaic glass(opaque) and stained glass. Some artists use pottery and plates broken into pieces. Unlike the traditional painted murals described above, tile murals are always made by fitting pieces of the selected materials together to create the design or image.
Mosaic murals are made by combining small 1/4" to 2" size pieces of colorful stone, ceramic, or glass tiles which are then laid out to create a picture. Modern day technology has allowed commercial mosaic mural makers to use computer programs to separate photographs into colors that are automatically cut and glued onto sheets of mesh creating precise murals fast and in large quantities.
Custom-printed tile murals can be produced using digital images for kitchen splashbacks, wall displays, and flooring. Digital photos and artwork can be resized and printed to accommodate the desired size for the area to be decorated. Custom tile printing uses a variety of techniques including dye sublimation and ceramic-type laser toners. The latter technique can yield fade-resistant custom tiles which are suitable for long term exterior exposure.