How to Prepare a Layout for Sign Painting & Lettering

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Custom signs can be created in a variety of ways. Traditionally, signs were created using paint on a flat surface. While advances in technology have allowed faster sign production through computer design and printing, painting signs is an economical way to create a sign. Preparing a layout for sign painting can be done quickly when aided by a computer program, such as Adobe Illustrator.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer with Adobe Illustrator
  • Craft knife
  • Spray adhesive
  • Painter's tape
  • Paint
  • Determine the information you would like to be incorporated into your sign. If the sign is advertising an event, make sure you have all the pertinent information available before creating the layout.

  • Create a file the size of the sign you will be painting in Adobe Illustrator. If the sign is four feet by four feet, for example, the file size should be the same. This will create an artboard, or working space, that is equivalent to the sign to be painted.

  • Using the type tool in Illustrator, type the text for the sign. Once the text completed, click the text to highlight it. Use the font palate to alter the font and size of the text until you have created text that is of a size and layout appropriate to the sign you are creating.

  • Move the text on the sign and finalize the layout of the sign.

  • Print the finalized layout. If the format is larger than your printer, have it printed at a printer with capabilities for large format printing.

  • Cover the surface of the area of the sign you are painting with painter's tape. Overlap the tape slightly so the entire area is covered. This will be used to mask the letter for painting.

  • Adhere the printed layout of letters onto the surface of the masking tape, using spray adhesive. Be sure the piece of paper is secure, so that the alignment and placement of letters is correct.

  • Cut out the letters on the paper with a craft knife, cutting through both the paper and the layer of tape. As each letter is cut out, remove the tape that covers the area.

  • Once all the letters have been cut, remove the remaining paper from the surface of the tape, making sure the tape is securely adhered to the surface. Rub the edges of the tape with your finger to further secure the tape to the surface to be painted.

  • Paint the masked letters, rolling paint over the entire surface of the tape. Be careful not to pull up any tape during this process.

  • Once the paint is dry, remove the tape to expose the letters.

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