Without a doubt one of the most iconic elements of the Haunted Mansion are the stretching portraits you encounter before you even get on the ride. The original paintings were done by legendary Imagineer Marc Davis who also had a huge role in developing much of the end of the ride. The origin of the stretching gallery is one of necessity, in that Disney needed a way to get you down a level to walk under the berm and train tracks into the actual show building. So the stretching room is actually in a massive elevator. At the Magic Kingdom the element was kept for consistency but the ceiling there actually raises.
Copies of these sell on eBay for $1700 and originals sold at the Van Eaton “That’s from Disneyland” auction for $40,000 and celebrity Neil Patrick Harris reportedly bought one for $172,000. So needless to say I was not looking to take out a mortgage to have one.
I searched online for the largest versions I could find. This can be done by going to images, tools (on the right), size and selecting large. I have Photoshop but the goal on this blog is to make things accessible and easy for beginning crafters, makers, and DIY’ers. So I put the images in Microsoft Paint, a program that virtually all PC/Windows machines have. I blew them up to the desired size of 36″. This resulted in a bit of distortion. So next I inserted each image into Microsoft Word. I selected the picture, clicked on the picture tools tab at the top, clicked on artist effects and selected the cutout filter and set the image to a percentage of transparency. that smoothed the blurriness but let the details show through it also gives it the angular look a painting would have if you did not blend the colors a lot. I then right clicked on the “Save as image” choice. I then reinserted the image and similarly to above went to artistic effects but selected the texture option and increased the scale of the newly added canvas texture until it looked right. This combination of the the cutout/transparency and canvas texture completely hides any of the blurriness from blowing up an image 500%. I had friends who are graphic illustrators and did not believe me when I told them I did it Paint and Word. You can also pump up the saturation a bit to give the pieces a bit more life.
I had a friend who has a large format roll printer who printed the pieces out for me for free. This obviously is not an option for everyone but I was not about to go to Kinko’s to print them out if I did not have to.
I had planned on decopaging the prints onto canvas using mod podge. But after some failed experiments I opted to go for framing them. I decided to go for real wood and glass frames that I found on Michaels.com. I got free shipping since I picked them up in the store. You also get free shipping on larger orders, but I did not want to wait. I got them all for 50% off with a deal they were running so I got each frame for 30$. I considered going with cheaper frames but found that the aged wood and real glass really elevated the quality of the prints.
In the end I have the iconic show stopping piece I was looking for.