Tired of everyone using World 1-1 of Super Mario Bros. for sweaters, murals, quilts, etc.? Me too. I understand it’s a very recognizable game.  It is arguably the most recognizable game ever created except for maybe Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Space Invaders (maybe), and perhaps a few other classics.  But it is also ugly, the color palette is not pleasant, Super Mario Bros. 3 was a much more aesthetically appealing game and also much more fun in my opinion.  I wanted to do a mural for my son’s room and I wanted it to reflect happy memories from my childhood that I could hopefully pass on to him.  My childhood is filled with great memories of video games and Super Mario Bros. 3 represents a nice chunk of those.

A little bit of background story: just found out my wife is pregnant with our second kid (we were trying) and our two and a half year old son will soon need to be transitioned from the nursery to a big-boy room.  I wanted to make his big-boy room special for him, make it a fun place in which he looks forward to spending lots of time.  I started this process about 2 years ago, got about half-way through the process and then stalled for a year and a half or so.  Once I found out our second kid was on the way, I wanted to get the mural done as soon as possible so that our son could get used to spending more time in his new room and be comfortable in there when we finally moved him out of the nursery.

Anyway, here is my process:

Step 1:

Design the mural.  Because I had a limited frame to work with: 12 feet by 8 feet where 1 pixel is roughly equal to 1 square inch, the resolution of this wall comes down to 131 x 82 pixels.

In Super Mario Bros. 3 you can’t see much in such a small window, so I had to move elements around to make it look more appealing.  All of these elements did come from World 1-1, just moved around slightly.

The design.

Step 2:

Prime the wall.  Using yard stick and #2 pencil, draw a humongous grid.

Continue drawing lots of lines.   Fill in the black outlines as a guide.

Step 3:

Once your pencil outlines are done.  Procrastinate for about a year – year and a half dreading the thought of having to paint in all those tiny, tiny corners.

Step 4:

Using black acrylic paint, start painting in the black outlines.

Mixing water with the acrylic paint as described on the tube was a mistake.  The question mark block lines bled all over the place.

Step 5:

Become frustrated with the acrylic paint, get some Behr wall paint samples and try adding some color to mix things up.

Behr fiery red looked orange when I was applying it, but it dried nicely.

Mario in full color! I won't notice a slight error on the question mark block until much later.

A splash of green...

A hint of blue...

Bushes are done.

Paint blue edges around everything to make rolling the background color on a little easier.

Ta da! Looks like I'm almost done, right?

The hills are located in a bad place for someone who is right-handed.

Ground: Done. Question mark block: Corrected.

Last step:  Paint in the clouds to hide the grid lines…


Other angles, and close-ups:

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  1. My roommate and I did something similar for her son. You can check it out here:

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  2. avatar Ivan says:

    i like Mario! 😉

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  3. avatar MiDiknutz says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  4. Really great, practicly explained and useful tips.

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  5. Blimey – there has to be an easier way. Me, I’d have printed it, even thought I can paint. Drawing all those lines would have driven me batty!

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  6. great Mural, how long did it take to finish

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  7. avatar Wes says:


    Excluding the long period of time when I didn’t do any work on it, probably a couple weeks. I only got to work on it in 1 or 2 hour blocks so it took longer for me to complete than I would have liked.

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  8. Very nice!!! congratulations!! 🙂

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  9. avatar Mike Ward says:

    What exactly was the mistake with the “?” block?

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  10. avatar Wes says:

    @Mike Ward

    The top-right-most pixel on the question mark was the wrong color.

    Wrong: http://gamedrunk.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/15.jpg

    Fixed: http://gamedrunk.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/16.jpg

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  11. avatar Jeff says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  12. avatar MsDesignDiva says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  13. avatar Stephen says:

    Nice work just stumbled into this. Looks like it took a great deal of effore *thumbs up*

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  14. avatar sennik says:

    Words cannot describe how good this article is. It is by far some of the best content on the Internet today. You are extremely talented.

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  15. avatar Regan says:

    My son loved this room so much I had to paint his room exactly like it. Thank you so much for the step-by-step instructions! You’re awesome!

    Check it out from start to finish: http://youtu.be/Wfs1PzsIGak

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  16. avatar 3D DS says:

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  17. avatar john says:

    just wondering. in inches how tall (from foot to ear) and wide ( foot to tail) did you make mario and the clouds also. how tall and wide are they?

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  18. avatar Wes says:


    He’s 30 inches tall, and 26 inches wide.

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  19. […] Check out the whole project here! Share this:TwitterFacebookTumblrLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. By thewoodenarcade 0 […]

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  20. Hey, you used to write great, but the last few posts have been kinda boringˇK I miss your super writings. Past few posts are just a little bit out of track! come on!

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  23. avatar Yana says:

    Love this! Have posted on my blog, I think you’re the best dad ever.

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  25. I wish I was a cool kid who complained about people liking things I don’t

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