May 16, 2011

How to do Custom Lettering without a Fancy Machine

I keep seeing so many amazing projects that people are making using their Cricut, Sillouette or other "fancy" machines.   While I love the results (and would definitely love to get one of those machines myself at some point), I often use an "old school" technique to achieve similar results.  I can do my own lettering in just about any font, any size and any color using nothing fancier than a regular computer, printer, lead pencil and acrylic paints.  It also works for simple graphics and pictures as well.


Check out these cute nameplates I made for some new Bedside Bookshelves for my kids.  The lettering is a lot nicer than I could do just freehand, but I was able to do it without a special machine. 

NOTE:  I've been told that the Curlz MT font ranks up there with Comic Sans, Papyrus and others in the "fonts to hate" category  ;)  However, my girls love the "letters with the curlicues" out of the limited fonts I have to choose from, so it still works fine for us!  :) 
 


Here's what you do:

1.  Find a font that you like on your word processing software and adjust the font size so it's as large as you need it to be.  Then print it out on regular paper.







2.  Cut out the name or word you'll be using, then turn it over.  Using a pencil, rub over the back side of the paper.  ( You don't have to cover the whole paper, just over the letters.)







3.  Turn your paper over and place it on the surface where you want your word or image to be.  Here I put it on the wooden slats I was using for the name plates, but I've done it directly on a wall before too.  Using your pencil, trace over the letters applying medium pressure.


4.  Lift up your paper and you'll see that you now have a copy of the word on your surface.

It's light, but you can see the outline of all the letters.
5.  Using a stiff, fine-tipped paintbrush and acrylic paints, paint your letters using the guidelines you just made.


6.  For this project, I used a ruler to add a frame around the edge of each name plate and then painted that too.





Obviously, this transfer technique wouldn't work on fabrics or other porous surfaces, but it's a great option for wood, walls or any other smooth surface.


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62 comments:

  1. Super neat! I've always wanted to do this, and now I can without breaking the bank on a fancy machine. :) Thanks for sharing!

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  2. I do not have one of those fancy cutting machines either. Do the same thing you do.
    And for Fabric, that is what stencils are made for.

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  3. This is so awesome!! Keep blogging, I'm learning so much :) Jenny

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  4. I just love your posts! I stopped by to say how much I love the Slider Cookies, (perfect for my 4yo's backyard party!!) and got sidetracked with the bedside book shelves (and we too get those nasty fines for overdue, lost books!) then I got caught on this page!! LOL!! Just love your inspiration! :o)
    ~Terry

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  5. I am so glad I am not the only person who does this! ;) When I find a great project I don't let my lack of fancy machine(s) stop me either.

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  6. hiy a, great idea thanks for sharing x
    happy crafting
    xmaggiex

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  7. This is such a great idea. I always see projects using a shilohuette machine, and I think "I love it, but I can't do this..." Now I feel like a whole world has opened up! Thank you.

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  8. That's absolutely brilliant!

    http://www.alittlenosh.net

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  9. I love using the lead transfer trick. I have a Cricut, but sometimes I prefer the old-school way of doing things! Found you @ Tip Junkie

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  10. Awesome ... I use transfer paper (posted here) never thought about just regular old pencil!

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  11. I have a gigantic font library and I never thought to do it this way. YOU ROCK (as always)!!

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  12. What a neat idea and it turned out great!! I also do not have fancy machines (or the budget for fancy machines)...so its nice to see someone else craft old school style like me:)

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  13. Lovely work! I've done it this way before, but I'm looking forward to getting a Silhouette next month :)

    By the way, there's no need to limit yourself to the fonts you already have - you can get tons of free ones at dafont.com or several other sites, and it's super-easy to install them. (the Help section of dafont.com has instructions, or you could google for help)

    try the "Curly" section for choices your girls might like: http://www.dafont.com/theme.php?cat=105

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  14. Ta Da...how simple is that!?! Thanks for sharing, I'll be getting a lot of use out of this tutorial!

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  15. I actually use that technique everytime I need an embroidery pattern transferred onto my fabric it works well as long as you have a thick layer of graphite on the paper. To do that I shade the backside of my paper then turn it so that my next layer of shading runs in the opposite direction. It seems to coat more evenly if you do 2 or more pencil rubbings before attempting to transfer.

    For more free fonts try www.kevinandamanda.com They have tons of handwriting and traditional type fonts to choose from!

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  16. I have a fancy machine but I would still use this way too. Thanks for sharing.

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  17. You can find lots of different fonts here (personal use for free)
    http://www.dafont.com/

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  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  19. Just stopping by to let you know that I've featured your craft on Family Fun Crafts! You can see it here:
    http://funfamilycrafts.com/name-plates/


    If you have other kid friendly crafts, I'd love it if you would submit them. :) If you would like to display a
    featured button on your site, you can grab one from the right side bar of your post above.

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  20. Many years ago I took a fabric painting class and really haven't painted any clothing for awhile. I seem to remember we used iron on transfer paper to get our patterns on the fabric. I do in fact think you could "Monogram" pretty clothing. Mix the paint with Fabric Medium and iron to set.

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  21. My daughter's 4th grade teacher used the same method to copy pictures. She calls it the "Pencil Poop" method..LOL! It never occured to me to use it for lettering. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  22. I used to do this when I was in elementary school art! Didn't put it together with this use! Great idea!

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  23. I'm surprised this is just popping up on my radar... I've been doing this for almost 20 years now...

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  24. I have done this onto linen to embroider quotes onto a cushion cover - just tape letters to a window, then fabric and create pencil outline to work with!

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  25. I do this on canvas all the time.

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  26. I shared about your awesome post on my blog! Thanks for sharing about this awesome idea!
    http://memoriesinthemakingnbaking.blogspot.com/2012/07/decorating-on-budget.html

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  27. Your post reminded me of when we used to do this in school. I always got bored, though, and gave it up. I wonder if colored chalk or art charcoals would give the same effect for low cost in less time?

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  28. I do have a "fancy" machine.... And this looks so much easier for projects like this!! I download free fonts online all the time so there are endless possibilities:). Thanks for sharing! ~ Meme

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  29. Rub a stick of chalk on the back of the paper then trace the letters, colored chalk works good on a white surface.

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  30. I have done this and it really works great. My hand is shaky with a paint brush, so if you find a paint pen color that you like, that is easy too :)

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  31. I've done this, too. I also found for darker surfaces and cloth, white or colored chalk to the trick!

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  32. Does this work better than just using Carbon paper? Seems like more work this way.

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  33. I actually use this method when decorating cakes. You can put any image on a cake and "color"it in, looks very professional! I've drawn pics, used coloring book pages, etc.

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  34. We used to do this in school only we used crayon (rainbow was popular)on the back. Forgot all about it!

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  35. I always use this for fonts!

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  36. I do lettering on fabric for our church bulletin boards basically the same way except that I print the words off on regular computer paper, then trace them onto tracing paper. I then take the tracing paper and insert graphite or transfer paper underneath. I use dark for a ligher fabric and white for a darker fabric. Using a stylus with a fine tip, I trace around the letters on the tracing paper. I tape the tracing paper where I want it and then slip the graphite or transfer paper underneath. Works like a charm

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  37. Oops, I forgot to say that I taped the tracing paper to the FABRIC!

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  38. Very clever- and I like the curlz font too!

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  39. So simple but so clever. Love it x

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  40. I use this technique all the time! I have used it on canvas bags for teacher gifts. I just use fabric markers to fill in the color I want.

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  41. This really works!!!!!!!!! Amazing. Thank you for sharing.

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  42. Wow.. great idea!! i tried this and it works very well. Nice, thanks for the lovely inspiration=)
    -do it yourself-

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  43. I used to do this way back when I was a freshman in high school! (some ten years ago. Lol)

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  44. I use this method as well as graphite paper. It comes in dark and white and can be reused over and over. No mess at all like carbon paper. Thanks for sharing!

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  45. Nice! Love the idea!
    New follower, come check me out!
    14sixty.blogspot.com

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  46. I have been thinking of a personalized gift for my bosses for Christmas and the only thing I was snagged on was this! But...what about on glass?? Any suggestions? If not, still could adapt my project.

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  47. Hey there! There is an even easier way to do these. Get some craft/art tracing paper. After printing your words, whatever size and font from pc, trace them on using good old fashioned tracing paper, then paint. Happy Crafting!

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  48. Thanks for the idea! I just used it to add text to a craft I made. It looks great. :)

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  49. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  50. How do you cut out the letters?

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  52. Would this work on dark brown painted wood? Would the lead show up enough to paint it? I've used chalk before, but its not as precise as I'd like it to be.

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    1. I think it's worth a try. It won't show up as much as on a light color, but you should still see something. You might just have to tilt it slightly or adjust your lighting so the lead catches the light and shows up a little more. Make sense? Also, if you press down a little harder when you're tracing, it'll make a slight indentation in the paint which helps you to see it too.

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  53. I just did this, and it worked great! Thanks so much for the tip!

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  54. I am a little confused. A video would be great. I understand printing the word in your chosen font. Where I get lost is on step 3. Can you perhaps explain to me further?

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  55. I just did this on a round box with my granddaughters name. I then went one step further and put glitter on the name with same color glitter I covered the lid with. Really turned out great. Wish I could post a picture of it.

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  56. What is the name of the font that you used for the name Audrey?

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  57. I searched Michael's store today looking for a "D" stencil for a wedding craft project....nothing to be found that was worth it. I knew I had Pinned this and this worked so awesome...thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!

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  58. LOL... this was the ONLY way to do it way back when!

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  59. Wow - THANK YOU so much . . . I have just got into Art Journaling . . . and this is going to help with my journaling words. xxx

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