Years ago, when my son was little and had a high tolerance for all my crazy ideas, he gave me permission to paint the walls of his bedroom to look like a castle. Between the two of us, I’m sure I was the more elated. Zac liked his castle room, but I loved his castle room. I would have slept in that room, had my husband not had other ideas about that.
Zac slept in that castle-walled room until the day we gave our mobile home away, moved our meager belongings (we had also given away all our furniture) into a travel trailer, and camped the six months it took for Dave and our brother-in-law to build our new home. Once it was finished, I promptly set about to painting a castle room for Tera, who had come along by this time.
One of the saddest days of my life was the day that Tera no longer wanted to live/sleep in her castle room. She wanted green walls, not faux brick walls. “Are you sure?” I asked, in a tone that said, “Please live in the castle room I painted you for all the live-long days of your life.”
But I couldn’t deny her the green walls she desired. So with a heavy heart, I painted over the labor of my castle-love. And I thought that was the end … until a few weeks ago, when my friends said, “Want to help us paint our new house?”
And thus … with a few well-placed, “Hey, I’ve got a good idea” comments and a joint trip to Home Depot … I am again painting fake stones on a wall that previously knew only white paint. If you’re at all interested in painting a faux castle, here’s how you go about it.
- Paint a base coat of dark gray matte paint over the areas you want to be walls. (Note: I had sketched and then texted a picture of the wall in my mind to my friend, who thought I was really asking him to paint that quickly-sketched image on his son’s wall. Not so much. But I’m going with what he prepared.) I suggest you leave a border at the top of the wall for painting a blue sky.
2) When the base coat is good and dry, load a regular, rounded-edged grout sponge with a lighter shade of gray. What I did was to bring three bottles of acrylic paint: black, titanium white, and chocolate bar. I then mixed a good amount of black and white with just a touch of the brown on a paper plate. I was pretty careful to have a nice sized pile of gray, but it didn’t bother me to have little streaks of the black or brown because that just adds to the effect. And it’s okay if it’s heavier in some areas and lighter in others, because this just adds dimension and texture to the brick.
3) Starting at one end of the wall, begin pressing brick shapes from left to right, leaving about a half- to three-quarter-inch boarder around each sponge shape. This is to simulate the grout that would surround a real stone brick. Don’t worry about whether or not your brick shape is completely covered in light gray. When all is said and done, you’ll love the variety you get when some of your brick shapes have a lot of paint and some have less.
4) Make sure, as you go along, that you stagger each subsequent row of bricks. By this I mean that you want the bricks above the first row to be centered above the bricks in the bottom row so that it straddles the mortar between bricks. Here’s an example of my first row:
Here’s the second row:
And here’s what it looks like when you have several rows:
Note the variance in splotches in these bricks/stones. That comes from a lesser or greater amount of paint on the sponges. Don’t worry about how different they all look … that’s a good thing!
5) When you get to the corners or edges of the room and need to add bricks that are half- or quarter-sized, just take a second grout sponge and cut it in half. Take one of those halves and cut it in half again. Now you have one half-sponge and two quarter-sponges to use however you need. Just make sure you utilize the one rounded edge of these bricks to make bricks that have consistent rounded edges.
6) If you want to make a window on one of your walls, plan that before you’ve committed too many bricks. I stopped when I’d only completed the first four bricks in from each edge of the wall because I wanted to make sure I planned it well. It’s always nice if your window “happens” to occur in a natural spot for the bricks to meet up. I think I got lucky with this wall, because I was eye-balling everything like crazy, and these bricks worked out perfectly. Paint a base of white so you have a canvas for a scene.
Here’s a picture of the window before I added highlights and shadows:
Feel free to edge your window any way you like. I used one of my sponges to make one gigantic, continuous slab below the window. But you could also make a series of smaller bricks for the base of the window. Do whatever you like. I used smaller pieces of sponge to make the smaller bricks around the sides of the window.
7) When you have the wall the way you like it, and when the bricks are completely dry, it’s time to go back and highlight and shade each individual brick. I know that this takes a lot of time, but it’s time well spent. When you see the textured bricks next to the primary bricks, you can see how flat one is and how multi-dimensional the other is. This is a very easy process: all you do is to a) determine which direction your light source is coming from (for this mural I decided that my light was coming from the top right) and then b) paint accordingly. If the light is coming from the top right, then you’re going to add a black strip to the left/bottom of each brick, and a white strip to the right/top of each brick. To paint, just load a brush (I used a round brush) with a little bit of paint, and then swish back and forth on a roll of paper towels (which I held under my arm for easy access … can you picture that? Palette in left hand, paper towel roll under left arm, brush in right hand). You want a fairly dry brush when you do this.
8) Starting from the top of the left side, add slight brush strokes to begin shading. Move with left to right brush strokes down the left side, painting heavier and wider on the corner before then moving across the bottom of the brick. Do the reverse with white on the top of the brick, around the right top corner, and down the right side. Every one of these is going to be different, and that’s okay. Step back from time to time and see if you like it. If not, fix what bothers you. 🙂 Here are several pictures showing what I mean by that:
9) When all your bricks are highlighted and shaded (and all mine in the above picture aren’t, but I’m almost finished), work on the bricks surrounding the window. I’ll have to write another post explaining the horizon/eye line of the picture and how to determine proper angles and achieve a vanishing point. For now, just paint the bricks on the outside of the window.
Here’s where I am so far in the process:
I still need to finish highlighting and shading the bricks at the top left (do you see how flat those bricks are compared to the ones I’ve already highlighted and shaded?) add one more brick to the left of the window, finish the turrets along the top of the wall, and determine the scene I want to paint outside the window. I think I’m going to paint a sea scene with an approaching pirate ship, because the boy-whose-room-this-will-be has let his pirate-love be known to me. And I want him to like sleeping in this room.
When all is finished, I’ll post some final pictures. But for now … isn’t this the easiest thing ever? There’s really nothing to it. I suggest you find a child with a high tolerance for your crazy schemes, grab yourself a sponge, and start playing.
If you try this, I’d love to see your results!
Update 1: More shading/highlighting added to window. Not done yet, though. I keep seeing spots that need fixing. :/
Oh, I am THIIIIIS close to finishing these walls. If I could find eight consecutive hours to work, I think I could get there. But I seem to only be able to find two- or three-hour spurts, and when you then factor in driving time, changing-into-clothes-I-can-ruin time, and cleaning-up time, it leaves me about enough time to shade and highlight two bricks. Not too efficient.
The underneath of the window has been bothering me all week. I just wanted more light to get in there, but it wasn’t to be. I think I can live with it now. Finished most of the highlighting and shading. Added the ocean. Soon to come: an approaching pirate ship 🙂