Top 5 Technical Tips for Creating Vinyl Murals
Published on May 2, 2024

Vinyl murals are great alternatives to painted murals, especially if you, the artist, do not have the capacity or desire to travel and install murals or the client lacks the sufficient budget to accommodate travel expenses or the labor of painting.

In a vinyl mural commission, you are responsible for designing the artwork digitally in raster or vector, and the client hires a third-party sign company vendor to print and install the artwork as a vinyl mural. Now, even though you aren't installing the mural yourself, you should still invest in the outcome of the project by ensuring you deliver printable files that are set up correctly for vinyl printing. I'm here to share my top five tips for vinyl murals so you can avoid making common beginner mistakes. 

As a muralist with over five years of experience, I've worked on multiple vinyl mural projects for various purposes like conferences, workplaces, and outdoor advertising. I've encountered just about every problem that could come up when working with vinyl, so I'm excited to share my experience with you and hopefully help you complete the vinyl project successfully without any issues. 

If you're wondering what resolution, color mode, or file export formats to use for vinyl murals, this post will answer those questions and more! First, I'll go over the essential technical side of working with vinyl, and at the end of this post, you have the option to learn my top 5 business tips for working with vinyl. Here's a preview of the technical tips, and each one will be covered in more detail.

Technical Tips: 
• Ask the client to provide photos if you can't visit the wall in person.
• Make sure the wall height measurement does not include baseboards.
• Always work in CMYK color mode.
• Your printable files should have a resolution of 72–150 ppi. 
• Avoid giving clients and vinyl vendors your working art files.

1. Ask the client to provide photos if you can't visit the wall in person. It's essential to see if there are any wall fixtures (outlets, emergency lights, light switches, etc.) to consider in your design placements. You need to make sure elements like texts or logos will not be cut off by wall fixtures. You'll also need measurements of the wall fixtures to map out a wall template for you to use in the design process. 

2. Make sure the wall height measurement does not include baseboards. Clients will often include baseboards in the measurements; if you can't measure the wall yourself, you should confirm with the client that the measurements don't include baseboards if you see them in photos of the wall. When baseboards are mistakenly included in the overall height measurements, your design will lose 5–7 inches from the bottom. The area you lose might have crucial elements like the client's logo, text, or your artist's signature. You'll need to revise the design to fit the correct dimensions, and the client will have to pay additional costs to have the vinyl vendor reprint the wall wrap. You can be protected from being responsible for incorrect measurements provided by the client by including those terms in a contract (my contract template has you covered on this!). However, it's ideal to prevent this error in the first place to create a positive working experience with your client. Your clients will greatly appreciate your attention to detail, too!

3. Always work in CMYK color mode. Do not provide art files in RGB color mode, as the colors will not print correctly. Unless the vinyl vendor specifically requests RGB, the preferred color mode for vinyl printing is CMYK. You should work in CMYK mode from the start. If you work in RGB mode and then convert your final art to CMYK, the colors may be vastly different from what your client has already reviewed and approved.  

4. Your printable files should have a resolution of 72–150 ppi. Designing for printed murals is not the same as other print projects like posters, cards, and stickers. Your intuition is likely telling you to use 300 ppi as the resolution, but that's unnecessary for vinyl murals and a headache as you'll produce mega-sized files. The rule of thumb for the vinyl murals is to set the resolution between 72–150 ppi as long as the artwork size is the same as the actual wall (Example: 10ft x 10ft canvas size in Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator for a 10ft x 10ft wall). If the vinyl mural is meant for viewing at a long distance, such as billboards or multi-story walls, the resolution can be even smaller, at 18 to 32 ppi. 

5. Avoid giving clients and vinyl vendors your working art files. To protect your art from unauthorized usage, provide CMYK jpegs or PDFs as printable files whenever possible. There may be occasions where you have to provide the working files of artwork; if so, include a usage rights reminder within your file or as a separate text document as a reminder to clients and third parties who may have access to your work that you are the copyright owner and only the named client has been granted certain rights of use.   

And there you have it! This post contains a lot of valuable information, some of which I wish I had known earlier when I first started freelancing. I never get tired of seeing my art on a wall, whether I painted it or it's installed by a vendor in vinyl. It's such a confidence booster and surreal experience to go from drawing on an iPad or computer to seeing the art on the side of a building. I hope these tips for vinyl murals are precisely what you're looking for and that you'll have a wonderful experience in creating a mural for vinyl installation. 

In the Pixel-to-Print Muralist guide, we dive further into the technical and business side of vinyl murals with step-by-step instructions on file set-up and exports, pricing guidelines, color-proofing, usage upsell, outreach ideas, and more! 

For questions about my guide or if you'd like to share feedback on this post, contact me at

Legal Disclaimer: This post is educational and based on the author's research and experience. The content of this post does not contain any legal advice. Please consult with an attorney if you have legal questions.