Monday, July 30, 2012

Project Monday: Chalk Lettering Cheat

Well, after waiting a month and dealing with packages of fabric being lost in the mail, wondering if I should reorder but knowing that as soon as I did the original package would arrive, etcetera, etcetera... Finally an envelope came in the mail this weekend that included a swatch for a design whose process I've wanted to share with you so you can do it yourself!

Chalk lettering is all the rage right now, but since the chalkboard wall we have in our house is not quite large enough (and is pretty much at the mercy of a near-three-year-old boy), I found a way to do it on a smaller scale, and with the help of just pencil, paper, and Photoshop. Here is my process:

1. Draw it. Draw your design on paper using a slightly soft pencil (I used an F). Fill in some letters using different strokes or lines (diagonal, horizontal), and don't try to be perfect. Imagine the pencil actually is chalk, and how it would feel in your hand. Keep a pencil sharpener handy for finer lines.

2. Scan it. Scan your drawing, preferably at a higher resolution than you need, so you can enlarge it slightly for a more detailed effect. I scanned mine at 600 dpi, then reduced it later to 300 dpi, but at slightly larger dimensions than the original.

3. Invert it. In Photoshop, make the image grayscale and invert it so everything black becomes white, and vice-versa. You'll notice that inverting it really picks up any smudges that might have been on the paper, which gives the new black background a recently-erased chalkboard look. You may want to adjust the contrast a bit, to really make the chalk stand out.

4. Colorize it. Change the image now to a monotone (duotone, but with only one color). Choose a color that looks like the chalkboard you had in mind, like a really dark bluish-black slate, or a more elementary-school dark green. Then adjust the image to RGB or CMYK and you're done!

This is the printed fabric from my design, which I'm adding to my Woodtype Alphabet collection. It will be in my Etsy shop soon, along with a few other "chalk-lettered" tea towels and prints in other designs.

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