We absolutely love hand painted signs! I wish I had better free-handing skills when it comes to painting hand lettering, but the fact is I just don’t. One day I may carve out time to work on it, but that day isn’t any time soon. Ben writes in doctor script, so that doesn’t help here either! He is, however, rather clever and suggested using a light projector a few years back when I mentioned I wanted a couple decorative signs. Genius solution. It works like a dream. I create the phrase I want (usually in PicMonkey), and he does all the hard work while I critique him. It’s a well-oiled system we’ve got going!
We’ve been using a projector for various things for years, mainly for projecting films for our movie nights. We haven’t owned a TV since we moved overseas nearly five years ago. We got rid of our US spec television, thinking we would replace it with a UK spec one. One week with out it and we decided we loved not having that as the focal point in our family room. On Friday nights, we have a Pizza Movie night as a family and turn our living room into a movie theater. It’s awesome! Our trusty ol’ projector was a great investment.
Alright, so here’s how we use it to make decorative signs. First, we get our lovely image created and saved, our desired surface prepared (canvas, wood, wall, etc.), and our projector hooked up to our computer. Next, we go to the ‘Energy Saver’ settings, which is located in ‘System Preferences’ on our Mac.
We increase the display shut off time to around 25 minutes. This is important, because we want the projected image to stay displayed for the whole time we are tracing it onto our surface.
If the computer does not automatically recognize the projector as a display, then the ‘Display’ settings need to be located manually.
On a Mac, there’s a little hidden ‘Detect Display’ button in the lower righthand corner. Press the ‘alt’ key to make it appear. Click on it to force the computer to find your projector.
We then pull up our desired image. On some computers, the image may just project right away. On others, like our MacBook, the image needs to be dragged off screen to the right to the extended desktop.
From there, we just set the projector and our chosen surface at the desired level and make sure they are straight, level, and zoomed appropriately. All that’s left then is to trace and paint! We use a very light colored pencil for tracing, so that it doesn’t show through the paint.
For the example pictured, we used some old palette wood that Ben lightly sanded and painted white. This type of surface can be quite difficult to paint unless it’s sanded completely smooth. The downside to sanding it that much is that you lose some of the grooves that give it that rustic charm. We’ve done it both ways and usually prefer the rougher result.
And that’s all there is to it! Let us know if you have any questions. If you try it for yourself, we’d love to hear how it worked out!
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