How to easily transfer your lettering design onto a wall


Let's say you have a kick-ass lettering design that you want to paint onto a wall for the world to see. Only problem is that you have no idea how to get the lettering onto the wall. Perhaps you are a mural beginner and haven't attempted an artwork this large before. Or maybe your design is super intricate and you don't have the patience to try and redraw it freehand. Just follow these simple steps and you'll be painting in no time!

Before we begin there are a few limitations when it comes to using an overhead projector to transfer your design onto a wall. You need to make sure that you're painting onto a wall that is easy to access and that there is a power outlet nearby which you can plug the projector into - this may mean using a few super long extension leads. Also the wall can't be too large. Anything higher than a double storey house will probably be too big for the projector to cover.

What you need:

  • Overhead projector - I found mine on Gumtree for $30!
  • Transparency sheet
  • Black paint pen (optional)
  • White pencil or chalk
  • Extension lead/s

Step 1: Copy your design onto a transparency sheet
The confident letterers among us may want to just go ahead and draw their design straight onto the transparency sheet which is perfectly fine. Or if you're like me you can place the transparency over your lettering and trace it on. Make sure you are using a permanent black marker like a Molotow or Posca paint pen so that the design doesn't rub off. You will notice in the image above that I have only traced the outlines of the design as this is just a guide for when you paint, not a full rendition of your mural. If you have access to a printer that prints onto transparency sheets or can get the design photocopied onto a transparency sheet that is also an option.

Step 2: Project your design onto the wall
For this example please note that I am painting onto a large 9mm MDF board, not a wall.
Before you start this next step it needs to be night if your wall is outside or you have to be able to make the room dark if you're working on a wall inside. Set up the overhead projector in front of your wall space, plug it in and turn it on. Place your design face up onto the overhead projector so that it is the right way up on the projection. Play around with the position of the projector and it's distance from the wall. The closer to the wall, the smaller the image and the further away from the wall, the larger the image. You can also turn the knob on the side of the projector until the design comes into focus. Once you have the design projected onto it's perfect spot on the wall make sure to tape down the transperency sheet. Trust me you don't want to have to try and line it up in the same spot if a gush of wind blows it away.

Step 3: Trace your design onto the wall with a white pencil
The final task is to go over to your wall and trace over the outlines of your design using a white pencil. It can be handy to turn off the projector when you're nearly done to make sure that you have traced all of your design. If it doesn't look complete turn it back on to figure out what you are missing.

That's it! Your lettering is now on the wall ready to start painting. Note: If you are painting outside this means coming back the next morning so you can actually see what you are doing.

Important things I learnt

  • Always complete the full background first if your lettering is going to be placed on top. This may sound obvious but it's something I neglected to do on my first mural attempt. Just know that it is painfully hard to come back and try and set up the projector in the exact same spot. Especially when you're painting onto a board that can move instead of a stationery wall!
  • I also can't stress the importance of taping down your transparency sheet enough. I used washi tape as it is easy to remove without leaving a sticky residue and it comes in an awesome range of colours.