Painted Typography





Introduction: Painted Typography

About: I'm just a graphic designer that gets bored sitting at the computer all the time. You can check out my YouTube page at or my tumblr at

With a steady hand, and a little bit of extra free time, just about anyone can make a beautiful typographic piece to hang on the wall.

Step 1: Print Out the Text

You really want the text to be entirely black & white if possible. Then print it out slightly smaller than your canvas. Once you have it printed, set it on the canvas to make sure that it is going to be the size that you would like.

I do graphic design, so I could pretty easily come up with things to arrange for this. However in this particular instance, I pulled one from Pinterest.

You can check out my Pinterest boards to see if there is anything that appeals to you or find/make your own.

*Your canvas can be whatever you like. I chose one that I had covered with dictionary pages for this particular piece. I have used solid-color backgrounds before though.

Step 2: Prepping to Trace

Flip your paper over on your desk/table and trace it with a standard #2 pencil. Make sure to bear down hard enough to leave a substantial amount of the lead behind. Just do a rough outline of all of the letters/lines, making sure to cover them. You don't need to fill the entire paper with the lead though.

Step 3: Tracing

Lay your paper back down on the canvas, being careful not to move it around too much. Then tape the corners down with masking tape. Make it as secure as you can because any shifting during this next part will cause it to come out distorted in the end.

Once you have it taped down, trace your edges with a pencil or ball-point pen. I prefer to use the pen because it doesn't dull over the course of the tracing.

Be exact if you can, but don't stress too much. You can see where I got off track a few times. It happens, but you can fix it up in the painting stage.

Once you have everything traced out, go ahead an pull up the paper to see how it looks. Depending on the amount of pressure you put on your pen/pencil, the lines may be darker or lighter.

Step 4: Cleaning the Tracing Up a Bit

This part is entirely optional, it just makes things run a little easier. I like to go back over the pencil lines with my black pen to make the lines darker and easier to see. As you can see, the background on my canvas has a lot of black in it also, so the pencil is difficult to follow. When I use lighter, single-colored backgrounds I sometimes just leave the pencil lines.

Step 5: Painting

I use your standard 50 cent acrylic paint for this with the smallest brush I can track down at the time. 
Start at the top left (or top right if you're left-handed) and work your way down. Be careful not to slide your hand across the pencil/pen lines as it might smear them.

If your eyes start to hurt or it gets frustrating to follow the tiny lines, take a break and come back. It's not the end of the world if you don't get this done in one sitting.



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    Thank you for the nice instructable



    Excellent! Thank you so much for sharing your talent with us. You've just gained a follower. I shall look for you on Pin* too. I enjoyed reading the comments too and am encouraged by your journey to quit and launch out as an entrepreneur.

    Can you please send me the template for this qoute!!

    1 reply

    I'm sorry it took me so long to get back to you. I actually just printed the image out from Pinterest stretched to fit on normal 8.5x11 paper. I can't find the original that I printed. Here's the closest I could find.

    I love the idea and the saying. I'm going to use a variation of this idea for my second graders. Lovely idea! Now, for drrobertson, perhaps these sayings will help :

    Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will

    I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. ~Thomas Edison

    I know it's not directly relevant to the 'ible, but that slogan "if you make failure an option it becomes a possibility" has me thinking too hard. Is it trying to say that you shouldn't make failure an option, or else you might fail? Or is it trying to say that it's impossible to achieve something unless you recognize that failure is part of the learning process?

    3 replies

    Nice to indulge in intellectual gymnastics BUT for me the message is very simple
    Failure is NOT an option!
    Thus is NOT a possibility.
    Things may not go as planed but that is simply the opportunity to explore more positive options

    I actually found this quote when I first quit my day job & started doing freelance graphic design full-time, and it stuck with me.
    At that point, failure wasn't an option since (for lack of better words) I had all of my eggs in that one basket. Because of that, it made sense to not even consider the idea of failure as once you consider the option, you do make it a possibility in your mind & do silly things like psych yourself out.

    NZarcher, you're right. Even when things don't go as planned, the outcome is sometimes even better than if everything had fallen perfectly into place to begin with.

    Thanks for the back story. The point I was trying to make is that unlike some boring quotes, that one really makes you think about it - which is a good thing.

    Loved this post!! I just made a new account here. I'd make a pinterest account and start following you asap. And i'd definitely try this asap! Could you please tell me the canvas for board you're using, do we have to buy one or could we use old cartons to make them?

    Also, the outcome looks so perfect. Did you brush something over the dictionary papers? Or you just stick them neatly like a pro and that's about it? Would be waiting for your reply.

    Thanks a ton for sharing this. x

    1 reply

    For this one, I actually bought one of the two packs of canvas from Hobby Lobby. I have used other materials such as wood before.
    I'll post a full Instructable about how to get those dictionary pages on the canvas later this week, but basically you just use mod podge to glue them down and then do another layer of mod podge over the top of them, which holds them all neatly in place.

    Wonderful instructable, I'm inspired - thank you!

    Like the "ible", not a fan of the quote at all.

    It reminds me of those people who think failures are horrible things. Most of my learning has come from failures. Each one has made me smarter and better at things I do.

    If I had this horrible aversion to failure I would never even try anything. Sounds like a terrible existence to me.

    On the other hand this is a nice technique. Thanks for the instructions.

    They have carbon copy paper you can buy very cheap at Office Depot type places. It would eliminate a step in your process. Love this idea!

    1 reply

    Carbon copy paper doesn't erase though, and it has much darker lines. they do make large crayon sized graphite available at art stores that make it much easier.