The Writing's on The Window
Have you put your holiday decorations up yet? We tend to put ours up the first weekend of December, but I do like to plan ahead. Last year, I wanted to incorporate some calligraphy into our decorations, and as our new house has lovely large windows, I thought I'd do some window lettering. With this year's holiday season rapidly approaching, I'd like to share this simple tutorial for festive window lettering. It's simple enough that even beginner letterers can tackle it!
Pencil & paper for sketching
White marker (I use a UNI Chalk Marker)
First, roughly sketch out an idea. This is enough to point you in the right direction, though, and with a couple of re-tracings, you'll have something you can work with. Here's the sketch I worked with. You can see that it's not polished, but it really doesn't have to be for this project.
Scan your artwork and clean it up a bit in Photoshop. I wasn't too fussy as this was something I would be using as a guide to trace from. (If you're wanting a quick tool for cleaning up lettering in Photoshop, though, we at Calligrafile love the FotoRx's Lettering Rx action!)
Measure your window and set up an art board in Illustrator with the exact dimensions – not scaled down in any way. Drag (or Place) your Photoshopped sketch into the Illustrator window, and size it to the proportions and position that you wanted it to appear in the window.
Next – and this is important! – flip the design to its mirror image. (Go to: Object > Transform > Reflect. Select the Vertical option and click OK.)
Print your design straight from Illustrator, making sure to set your printing options to 'Tile Full Pages.' This ensures that the image prints out at actual size, just spread over several sheets of paper. (Click the screen shot on the left for an enlarged view.)
The next stage is fun. Piece the image together like a giant jigsaw puzzle and fix it together with sellotape. Not too much – just enough to hold it together.
I use a UNI Chalk Marker for the lettering, which is washable so the design won't be there forever! Since the lettering is done on the inside of the window, though, I also don't have to worry about rain or the environs destroying the design. If your design has to be permanent, select a pen accordingly, but look for one with a bullet-shaped tip.
You may want to do a practice run on another window first (remember: it's washable!).
Before starting, give the glass a good clean. Then stick your giant jigsaw image to the outside of the window – image side facing in – with a bit of masking tape.
To make steady lines, sign painters rest their hand on a stick with a chamois on the end. This is called a Mahl stick. I made my own quite easily by using things I had lying around the house, but here is a quick tutorial if you need one. The stick is vital for obtaining smooth lines. With the very large curves, though, I found I just had to be confident and move my whole arm in a big arc.