More in Decorating
Prime the canvas by applying a couple of coats of latex paint in the base color (we used white). The idea is to apply enough paint to the canvas that it really soaks into the fabric. After the primer has dried, use a pencil to sketch in the outline of the design. You can draw a border around it as we did, if you wish, but that's entirely optional. If you make a mistake, you can turn the canvas over and use the other side. After you have the design sketched out, draw the stripes (or spots or whatever) inside the outline.
Cut out the "hide" shape with ordinary scissors (the canvas cuts like a dream). We marked the outer line with Xs so we wouldn't accidentally cut it out on the wrong line.
We could have used plain black and white for our zebra, but we decided to give it some depth by mixing colors with a wet-on-wet painting technique. First we applied burnt umber, really loading the paint on the canvas (Image 1). Then while the paint was still wet, we added shading with raw sienna (Image 2). Let the paint dry. Use black paint and a wider brush to fill in the border (Image 3). If you use a brush that is the same width as the border, the job will be a lot easier and quicker. Let dry.
Now you'll need to seal the cloth with a coat or two of polyurethane. You can apply it as it comes out of the can, or you can do as we did and add a few drops of raw umber to it to create a glaze. This will add a more natural look and also age the surface.
When the polyurethane has dried completely, it's time to finish the edge of the floor cloth. First use the scissors to make small snips along the border, just up to the inner line (Image 1) -- these make it easier to fold the edge in smoothly. Then fold the edge in all around and hot-glue in place, holding it just a couple of seconds until the glue dries before you move on to the next section (Image 2).