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Painting small letters

Hand Lettering topics: Sign Making, Design, Fabrication, Letterheads, Sign Books.

Moderators: Ron Percell, Mike Jackson, Danny Baronian

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Barry Robertson
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2022 11:52 pm
Location: Dundee, Scotland.

Painting small letters

Post by Barry Robertson »

Hello, Everyone.
Over the years, I've visited this forum and enjoyed reading and learning as well as understanding aspects of the craft which were (and still are) a puzzle.

As a recent member, I have some questions I feel compelled to ask. Beginning with hand lettering small sans serif and Roman caps and lower case, up to 1" height.
I've searched the forum and I'm curious if anyone would like to share tips, techniques and advice for; their choice of brush (size, synthetic or natural hair, etc.), thinning of enamel, layout and painting with size before gilding with transfer leaf.

My query is inspired by recent projects involving small lettering on honours boards. In addition to a potential project soon, to hand letter two columns of around twenty names at approximately 1" height and in gold leaf.

I attach three photos of my small painted sans. Two photos show lettering after pouncing and the other was painted without a layout. As well as a photo of the columns of gold leaf lettering I've been asked to provide a quote for.

Any comments or chat would be appreciated.

Thanks for your time.
Small sans.jpg
Small sans.jpg (177.09 KiB) Viewed 2281 times
Honours Board Refurbishment.jpg
Honours Board Refurbishment.jpg (376.47 KiB) Viewed 2281 times
Bespoke lettering Dundee.jpg
Bespoke lettering Dundee.jpg (232.89 KiB) Viewed 2281 times
Using old wood for hand lettered signs.jpg
Using old wood for hand lettered signs.jpg (447.41 KiB) Viewed 2281 times
Ron Percell
Site Admin
Posts: 66
Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2004 9:32 am
Location: Angie, La.

Re: Painting small letters

Post by Ron Percell »

Hello and welcome Barry.
#1. I've searched the forum and I'm curious if anyone would like to share tips, techniques and advice for; their choice of

Q. brush size
A. Choose brush based on stroke thickness, 1/2 to 3/4 of the letter stroke width.

Q. synthetic or natural hair
A. Both types work. Your choice based on paint type and or surface needs such as drag, also known as pucker. hair length determines amount of load(paint). Hair thickness is a bigger concern, coarse hair is great for heavy pigmented paint, fine hair is great for lettering enamel and or inks.

Q. thinning of enamel
A. Follow manufacturers thinning instructions and types of reducers recommended to make sure enamel doesn't weaken.
Premix paint, if paint begins to pull hair to much or "drag" you may dip half a brush of thinner to reduce drag. Practice will make you more familiar with the process. I use 2 brush loads of paint and 1/2 brush dip of thinner on a glossy or glass palette.

Q. layout
A. Study Calligraphy tips in the Speedball book of lettering, it looks like this layout was drawn with a Stabillo washable pencil, one could also use chalk with a light touch.

Q. painting with size before gilding with transfer leaf.
A. Treat Size like enamel and follow set up times of size and make a sample to answer your question

One final note, Picture 1 was lettered using fine line tape on top and bottom lines only.

Good Luck
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