Making the New Queer+ Friends of Bradley Manning Banner


A mum (dads not recommended)
An image file of the banner design
A piece of material (we used calico; it holds paint well and doesn’t stretch)
Soft pencils
Gaffer tape
Masking tape
A projector
Quite a bit of space
A wall
Acrylic paint (we bought Pip Seymour paint from eBay)
Various firm brushes (acrylic paint is gloopy, not runny)
Several days

Total cost



First of all, prime your banner so that paint will properly adhere. We did not prime our banner, we didn’t know you needed to do this, so the task of painting was made harder than it need have been.

Next, the top edge and left edge of the banner were hemmed (thanks mum!), hemming is important, otherwise your banner could get torn or will just start to look tatty very quickly, they get tugged about a fair bit when they’re being used.

When you design your banner, keep in mind the colours of paint you are able to get hold of.

Here’s what we started with. A massive thanks to @SomersetBean for designing this for us!


Then we borrowed a projector and hung the calico on a wall using gaffer tape. This is where your two hems come in handy, use these to help you line up the image.

With felt pens we sketched out the banner image. This must definitely be done in one sitting, it will be almost impossible to set up the equipment twice with the image in exactly the right place. I suggest you use soft pencils to do your sketching, we had a problem with red felt pen leeching through and discolouring the white paint when it was put on.

Then, lay your banner out on the floor and put masking tape around all the outside edges and start painting!

Don’t let your brushes dry out, they are horrible to use afterwards. If you’re going to stop using your brushes for more than 20 minutes, clean them thoroughly in water.


And carry on painting …


Here’s a close up of the left of Bradley’s face. A steady hand is needed when doing edges. It’s easy to cover up lighter acrylics with darker ones if you make a mistake, it’s not easy to cover up dark colours with lighter ones. Always keep a printout of the image to hand so that you can check it before painting each new area.

We started off with the darker colours, in hindsight we should really have started with the lighter ones.

Close up work is definitely easier if the banner is on a table, painting on the floor for long periods becomes very uncomfortable!


For the really detailed work on the lettering we filled in the letters in white (this is where our leeching felt pens came in handy, we could go over the letters in white and the red of the felt pen would come through showing us where to paint. Not all felt pens will do this, only our red pen did this while the others didn’t.


This is why you should keep a printed image to hand. We thought we’d finished but on closer inspection there was a glaring error!


When the painting is done you can hem the other two edges … or just call your mum. 😀

Any banner questions please feel free to ask them in the comments section and we’ll do our best to answer them for you.


  1. Thank you so much for this. For months we have been talking about a new WL/JA supportive banner and were at a loss how to go about making/getting one done. Your post and offer of assistance is very encouraging and makes me think we should have a go making one…lol maybe start modestly with a flag 🙂 Thank you ever so much for sharing your knowledge x

  2. Wonderful. Now maybe Queers Without Borders can make a banner too. Your photos are great of Pride day.

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