Sign painting 101: Lettering tips and tricks

Creating a hand painted sign can be a great way to add character to almost any space. From words to initials and …. well…. the sky is really the limit. With just a little paint and know how, you can turn scrap wood into a piece of art with very little work.

How to paint signs


tips and tricks on how to paint a sign
First things first, I always use an outline. I do it by tracing the outside edges of the letters through carbon paper onto the wood. As you can see, mine is NEVER perfect – I straighten it all up with the paint.
tips and tricks on how to paint a sign For fine fonts like this one above – I used a Liner #1 so that I can get into the corners.
tutorial on how to paint a sign I dip my brush into my paint straight up and straight back out. In my mind it keeps the bristles in the right place (‘course it might just be me…)
directions on how to paint a signM’kay… lemme see if I can explain without going in circles. If there is a sharp angle, like the top one (with the blue arrows), I swipe my brush from the corner in, then from the corner up, and from the corner across. Then I use my brush like a magic marker and swoop around the loop.

On the bottom part, I go from the corners in on each side, connect the corners with another swipe, then swoop around the edges. The swiping in from the corners helps to keep them crisp.

sign painting tips  I use straight strokes to do the straight lines, one beside the next to fill it in and barely overlap the carbon paper lines.
how to paint a custom sign Don’t be afraid to turn the sign to whatever angle you need to get those swoops in the right direction. I always think it’s easier to stroke towards me, almost like writing.

tips and tricks for how to paint your own sign No matter if I’m doing big, chunky fonts or thin precise ones, these tricks always help me keep the corners clean and lines crisp. I hope some of these ideas helps you, too 🙂

Want more tips? Be sure to see the other posts in this series:
Pick the perfect brush with tips in the Sign Painting 101: Brushes
Choose the perfect paint with tips in the Sign Painting 101: Picking Paint

About Gina Luker

Gina Luker is a writer, photographer and lover of all things quirky. She's usually found with a drill in one hand and a cocktail in the other while blogging along the way. She's addicted to coffee, polka dots, rock stars, Instagram, and everything aqua.


  1. Thanks LOTS for hosting!!! Your PARTY is so GREAT! Thanks for making room for ALL of us!!! XO, Aimee

  2. Thanks for hosting and for the tutorial. I hope you’re having a great week!


  3. You make it look so easy 🙂 thanks for hosting Gina! I’m excited for Valentine Week!
    Cheers, Andrea

  4. ahhh, you’d think I was am amatuer or something, haha, but I screwed up number 65 if you could delete it so I can repost it? Not only did I name it wrong, but there’s no thumbnail (not sure why) and I’m SUPER DUPER excited about my CRAFT ROOM REVEAL and now I’m super duper bummed that I didn’t link it right! Thanks!! And thanks for hosting and putting up with dweebs like me – haha!!

  5. Thanks Gina for hosting as always and your painting tip is very similar to a lettering post I did here:

    I don’t use carbon paper, simply let the pressure of the pen leave an indent in the wood. Just thought I’d share, for some reason that post went rampant on Pinterest and now it has over 400,000 hits? Crazy how that happened.

  6. Thanks so much, Gina- I absolutely loved [and needed] this tutorial!! And as always, thanks for hosting a great party 🙂

  7. Thanks for all the great tips, Gina! They will certainly help me create a more professional looking sign in the future! And thanks for hosting such a fun party! 🙂

    xoxo laurie

  8. Thanks so much for hosting and for fabulous sign painting tips, Gina!

    Linked up a bunch of projects and am looking foward to browsing the creativity!

    Awesome party! : )

  9. Thanks for hosting! What a cute sign — maybe one day I will try that.

  10. Thanks for hosting. Always a pleasure to drop by.

  11. Thank you for hosting I get a ton of traffic from your party:) I’d like to invite you to my Link & Greet on saturday @CountryMommaCooks…have a great day!

  12. Hi! So lovely things! I wish you a very happy day! Greetings Riitta Sinikka.

  13. Gina, thank you for hosting and the easy to follow sign tutorial. I’ll be back later tonight after work to check out the party! andrea@townandprairie

  14. Happy Thursday morning to you! I linked up tutorial on Pickling Jalapeno Peppers. It’s pretty easy and the rewards are perfect when it comes time for nachos or chili! Thanks for hosting the party once again. Have a great week!

  15. Thanks for hosting…and thanks for the wonderful tutorial…I’ve PINNED it :). Take care and have a great weekend.


  17. Gina, Thanks for hosting! Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

  18. I love your parties… I could spend hours looking all the projects and ideas out there!
    Amy @ homehappyhome

  19. I like it over here also and always look around at others projects

    lucking me I got some painting done this week

  20. Thank you for the GREAT tutorial!

  21. Beautiful, simple sign. What a great, budget-friendly decorating idea that is a little different! And the how-to is great!

    Thanks for hosting!!

  22. Thanks for the letter painting tips and for hosting!

  23. Thanks for hosting! Love the great painting tips!

  24. Thanks so much for hosting, always love your party!

  25. Thanks for the painting tips and for another great party!

  26. Thanks for hosting the party! I have a wooden board in my garage that I have been meaning to make into a sign since September. You’re motivating me to just get started on it!

  27. Thanks for being our host! I am a new follower of your blog! I would love it if you came and checked out my blog and followed me too! 🙂 Cath at Home is Where my Heart is

  28. Awesome! Thanks so much, Gina, for the painting tips. I always have issues with that. Thanks for hosting. Can’t wait for the party next week. 🙂

  29. Found your blog today and decided to link up something. Your link party is almost inspiration over-load, but I love it!

  30. Thanks for the sign painting tips and for hosting!!!!

  31. Thank you for hosting! Feel free to stop by my site and link up in my I Love Fridays link party 🙂

  32. Holy gravy- the talent at this par-taay is awesome!
    Thank you so much for hosting!
    Kerry at HouseTalkN

  33. Thanks for hosting Gina!

  34. # 15 seems to be a dead link

  35. I just discovered your blog Gina and it’s fun 😉
    Thank you for sharing!

  36. Wow you have over 500 linkers on this great linky that is awesome and so is this letter painting tutorial! Smooches and hugs and wishes for a beautiful weekend xo

  37. Thanks for the lesson. I will try that tomorrow.


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