How To Paint Text, Words And Letters

How To Paint Text, Words And Letters

How To Paint Text, Words And Letters

In this series you will learn how to paint text, words and letters using acrylics and mixed media. These free acrylic paint tutorials cover many of the common mistakes beginners make and how to replace them with good technique. Once you are finished with these lessons you will have the skills to create amazing still life, signs in cityscapes and more.

What Would You Need These Text & Words Lessons?

Text, works & letters are a big part of creating interesting still life paintings, signage in cityscapes, and adding quotes, etc. to your art. Most artists will come across this opportunity if you paint long enough.

Words and text are very interesting once you understand how to effectively paint them. It may send you into a new tangent of creating a series of art that focuses on this alone.

Once you're start painting them effectively you will begin to look for opportunities by spotting words & interesting fonts in objects that will make interesting paintings.

Step One - Writing Versus Drawing Words

To get started you need to understand the difference between writing and drawing text. To illustrate this I have simplified medium to using only paper and graphite. The demonstration image below shows the difference between writing and drawing text. Be sure to have a look at this and study the difference between the two styles.

These are your goals:

  • It's important to capture a likeness of the font when using text in your art. If you simply write the text it doesn't have any similarities to the subject. Unfortunately, many artists get lazy here and never spend time exploring the beauty of the font/style.
  • It's recommend to explore negative space so you can easily capture edges and shapes of the text. This will become very helpful as we move into painting with acrylics.
  • Once you understand the difference between writing and drawing you will begin to understand why it's important. From here you can easily improve your text/words by practicing the two methods of using negative space and edges/outline.

Writing Versus Drawing Words Demonstration Image

Step Two - Introduce Paint And The Common Mistakes With Acrylic

There are a few common mistakes artists make when making text using acrylics. Below you will find a list of 'not good', and 'good' habits. Read over these and then have a look at the illustration image to see the difference.

The 'Writing' Version (Not Good)

  • As with Step One many artists simply write text as if they were holding a pencil.
  • In the second example I added the black background area & allowed it to dry. Note I allowed the paint (black) to dry before I add the text. The end result is I'm still writing the word. It doesn't capture the font style and looks amateurish.
  • In the third example I demo how artists will create an even worse example of painting text by using a wet-in-wet technique. Note how the colors blend and you are left with very soft edges.

The 'Painting/Drawing' Version (Good)

  • I illustrate how you can use negative space to create text/words. This technique creates more believability & adds body to the letters.
  • Try to understand the style of the font & practice outlining the text versus writing it. This exercise will help you create a better representation of the font.

Common Mistakes With Acrylic Demo Image

Are You The Impatient Artist?

Artists tend to get impatient and want immediate results but it's usually not the best option. Remember when you are painting text there two main colors (in some cases many more); the background color & the color of the text itself. How you handle these two areas is important to the results you get in the finished product.

The Impatient Artist Demo

  • In this version you will see how being impatient will quickly muddy the text. It's issue is usually the lack of understanding the importance of layers. By not allowing the paint to dry in the background area it will completely ruin the crisp edges of the text. (see demo image below)
  • This impatient example is referred to Wet-in-wet painting. It's usually not the best choice for creating crisp colors & edges. Unfortunately, this is usually the option many artists take in addition to writing it which looks pretty bad in my humble opinion.
  • In the second 'Impatient' version I demonstrate how you can understand negative space but still end up with sloppy results because I'm still using a wet-in-wet technique. As you will see the edges are still soft & the colors bend. Better than the first example but not good enough.

Impatient Demo Image

The Impatient Artist Demonstration Image

Are You A Patient Artist? Do You Understand Why Layers Are Important?

The patient artist understands layers. In short they know by being patient that can manipulate the background and text area in any way they please if they work in layers. In this example (see demo image below). I will employ layers by working wet-in-dry

Here's How I Created The Demo Image Below.

  • I add a rectangular shape using white & mars black.
  • I add another rectangular block using red.
  • Noe this is the important part - I let them dry.

Layer Two

IMPORTANT - The white & red rectangular layers are dry. Very important to understand this or you will completely miss the entire point of this course.

Here's a breakdown in this layer and what I'm doing to achieve crisp text & words:

  • In the 'white' background version I start to add a feeling of text but going 'outside' the edges. Basically making the letters chunky instead of getting them perfect.
  • In the 'red' background version I use negative space as I add white to achieve the text. This is an interesting approach to adding text to your artwork. So, instead of focusing on painting the letters I simply added the red block of color knowing that I would come back and use the white background to form the letters.

Layer Three

I will continue with the wet-in-dry technique once the previous layer is DRY. Very important to understand this & I will pound it in one more time just so you understand.

  • I continue defining the text by adding another layer of color - in this case white.
  • Note: I could have also used red to shape the text but chose to only use white. But just keep that in mind as you experiment with text on your own.

Using Layers Demo Image

How To Paint Text, Words And Letters - Bad Versus Good Demo

How To Paint Text, Words And Letters - Good Example

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