Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Paint Chip Art

I actually made this about 6 months ago, right before we moved into our house.  I had seen a photo of someone using paint chips to create a giant wall-size version of a Marilyn Monroe picture (inspiration link below), and thought "what an awesome idea!  I have to try it!".  Naturally, I chose to do one of an artichoke.  So here are the steps!  Be warned - this is tedious and time consuming…but the result really is fabulous!  

Paint chips.  Lots of paint chips.  (From Lowes - I will explain why.)
A square paper punch
A canvas  
This website:
This program:  Olympic Paints Desktop App,

Choose an image you'd like for your mural - be creative!  When you have an image picked, will take any image and pixelate it for you.  (Yes, amazing that it exists!)  I had to try several different images before I was satisfied with how the pixelation turned out, so don't be afraid to play around!  Pay close attention to the "pixels per row" box, as this will determine just how large your mural will be (and how big a canvas you need), depending on how big your square punch is.  I used a 1/2 inch-sized square punch for my artichoke mural.  

Once you have your pixelated image, print it out on your color printer, and draw gridlines through it, separating each pixel.  You will then label letters across the top for each column, and numbers along the side for each row (like a spreadsheet!  This can probably be done on the computer somehow too, but you get the idea).  Now comes the tedious part.  Start a spreadsheet, and make a list of each pixel involved in your mural (Now that you have gridded them out, you can label them A1, A2, A3, etc).  Open the Olympic Paints Desktop App on your computer, and open a digital copy of your pixelated image from  Using the desktop app, you will be able to select each individual pixel from your image, and color match it to the coordinating Olympic Paint color.  BRILLIANT!!  Make a note of each paint color match for each pixel on your spreadsheet, so each pixel has a coordinating color.  (Make a note of the color name and the color code/number, as this will make your life easier when you have to find all of these paint chips at Lowes)  Yes, this will probably take you awhile.  But it is worth it!  Stay with it!

When you are FINALLY finished, you can use pivot tables (if you are excel savvy) or old fashioned elbow grease to count up how many pixel squares of each paint color you will need for your mural.  Now hit up Lowes!  I admit it, I did have to go to 2 different local Lowes stores to get all of the green paint chips I needed for my artichoke.  BUT, remember that they will be put to good use!  Next, you start hole punching with your square hole punch.  (I used envelopes to keep all of my colors grouped together as I went.)  When you have all of your squares/"pixels" ready, you can start gluing them to your canvas!  To be precise, I went through and gridded my canvas with pencil beforehand (you can see this a little in my images), which I do recommend doing.  However, I did have trouble erasing all of the pencil afterwards….so USE CAUTION!  (Let me know if you have a trick to erase pencil from canvas!)

Using your list of pixels and their matching colors, you can now go through and glue the paint chip squares to their coordinating location on your canvas.  This is the best part - you will slowly be able to see your image take shape!  When finished, you can coat the canvas with a sealer (I used acrylic spray). Mod podge may also work!  And VOILA!  Your very own piece of paint chip art!  (And for super cheap!!)

Apartment Therapy Reader Project:  


  1. Hi there,
    I'm wondering why you used a hole punch? Just to make the squares smaller so you could fit in more pixels?

  2. Hi Leela! Yes, exactly - I actually found it quite challenging to find the right size square hole punch for the paint chips - they were either too big (which would have resulted in a massive mural) or too small, which would be hard to work with. Hope that helps!

  3. Next time before you put the outside pixels on paint the canvas white or whichever color you want to hide the pencil marks. Makes the pixel art pop. Then put the boarder pixels when the paint drys.