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Painted Sign Tutorial ~Easy DIY Technique

Hi. My name is Larissa, and I’m addicted to old signs.  There. I said it. There’s just something about the typography and artistry of old advertisements, name plates, just…whatever. They draw me in, and since it’s hard to find these relics, I like to create my own – especially on cast-off wood. Let me show you how in this simple painted sign tutorial.

DIY: Repurposed & Painted Sign Tutorial by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces…especially paired with antique treasures like this single tree!

DIY: Repurposed & Painted Sign Tutorial by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

Who can resist the time-worn wear and chippy paint, all telling a story of days gone by?

DIY: Repurposed & Painted Sign Tutorial by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

I’d like to show you the transfer method I use to create signs and furniture. I have oodles of examples of how I use this method on my furniture makeovers seen HERE like this chest.

Thrifted Acme cedar chest is an industrial work of art with vintage typography by Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.com

Only a couple items needed besides your wood (and an antique anything, if you have something!) to do this painted sign tutorial.

DIY: Repurposed & Painted Sign Tutorial by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

  • oil pastels – I mainly use kids pastels (cheap & work just as well), but any will do. You can also use chalk, transfer paper, or graphite paper.DIY: Repurposed & Painted Sign Tutorial by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces
  • colored pencil – in a bright color
  • acrylic craft paint – in color desired
  • #5 or #6 round paint brush – you could use any one hand, I prefer these.
  • paint tray or plastic lidDIY: Repurposed & Painted Sign Tutorial by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces
  • Microsoft Word, Photoshop, or similar program
  • printer
  • masking tape, painters’ tape, or similar

First, measure the wood you’re using to get the parameters you need your graphic to fit into.  I typically leave about an inch allowance or greater, depending on the design.

DIY: Repurposed & Painted Sign Tutorial by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

Next, I lay out my graphic (you can also use a pre-made design or clip art) in a software program.  I used to use Microsoft Word, but now love to use Photoshop.  No need to reverse the image, just print it out as you read it, and tape it together, if needed.

Once your graphic is printed, grab your oil pastel (I like to use the same color as the paint I’m using), and rub the reverse side of the graphic everywhere you want to show up.   To be able to see where to rub, a light box is great (I have a homemade one), but I always use my window since I’m too lazy to drag out my light box. ahem.

DIY: Repurposed & Painted Sign Tutorial by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpiecesLast, center and tape in place your graphic with the right side facing you. Then, take your colored pencil and trace firmly all the parts you coated with the pastel.

DIY: Repurposed & Painted Sign Tutorial by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpiecesBefore completely removing the paper after you’re done tracing, gently lift up a side to see if you’ve traced every part and make any necessary adjustments.

It should look like this…

DIY: Repurposed & Painted Sign Tutorial by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpiecesNow you’re ready to paint!  I think you can figure this part out, so I won’t elaborate on this part.

Seriously, any old wood will do.  See! Here’s part of my stash:

DIY: Repurposed & Painted Sign Tutorial by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpiecesHere’s another sign using a vintage Morris rocking chair part and a thrown out Vera Bradley sign made of foam board. (it doesn’t even have to be wood!)

DIY: Repurposed & Painted Sign Tutorial by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

DIY: Repurposed & Painted Sign Tutorial by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpiecesGot questions?  Just let me know! To get these DIY tips and tricks in your inbox, be sure to sign up for my newsletter. You’ll get your FREE Furniture Buying Checklist and special discount to my shop

AND…Don’t forget to stop by my shop to see the latest additions.

Shop Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.comUntil next time!

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More projects for you like my painted sign tutorial:

Antique Stereo Repurposed Into Sewing Cabinet by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpiecesDIY Repurposed Snack & Beverage Stand Tutorial by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

Comments

  1. Sindy says

    Would you please tell me how to get the graphic pattern on Photoshop? I have Photoshop, but I don’t know how to make the graphic and get it large enough for my project. I have a small laundry stool and I want to paint a graphic on the seat that says “The Dirty Dog Laundry”–thanks!
    Sindy

    • Larissa says

      Hi Sindy! Sure, the link in my post must have been removed when I moved my blog, but I’ve replaced it for you. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask! 🙂

  2. Stacy says

    I am addicted to old signs but have never made one and I can’t wait to try it. I am confused as to why after you print it out do you shade it all in on the opposite side. Can’t u just turn it over and trace the outside without shading it in with an oil pastel? I think I am confusing myself? LOL
    Thank you so much.
    God Bless

    • Larissa says

      They are very addictive, Stacy. hee hee. Sometimes if the lettering is small it’s just easier/faster to shade the whole thing in. When I do larger text, I only shade the outside edge. 😉

  3. Ammy says

    Excellent Job done by Larisaa ….. Thanks 🙂

  4. Signs NY says

    Thanks for such a great post ! You really did well and described this post very well. Now i can also even make hand made signs 🙂

  5. Kathy says

    My brain can’t wrap around your instructions although I think they are wonderful. I found a overhead projector at a yard sale and I use transparencies and tape them to white paper. So far so good.

  6. Cheryl B. says

    I see to use photoshop,but do you have to get a special paper?Like a long roll paper to put in your printer.ive never done any tranfers or labels.etc.but I would love too

    • Larissa says

      I just divide the image up into 8.5″ x 11″ sections, print and then tape together for a larger image.

  7. Tara @ Stilettos and Shiplap says

    I’d love to have the ability to hand letter beautifully as so many others do. As it is I don’t even have nice regular handwriting. I’m definitely going to be trying this method to make my own signs. Thanks so much for sharing, Larissa!

    • Larissa says

      I know what you mean. This makes it super easy and makes for great practice too.

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Client Love

I love it! Larissa is amazing. She listened to what I wanted and then she took care of the rest! This is my second piece I've bought from her and I'm in love! I highly recommend her.

~ Laurel

Prodigal Pieces
2020-03-21T21:34:13-04:00

~ Laurel

I love it! Larissa is amazing. She listened to what I wanted and then she took care of the rest! This is my second piece I've bought from her and I'm in love! I highly recommend her.

I love this cart, it's exquisite. The item was received in extremely secure packaging, no damage to the item. The delivery person was very professional and courteous. Larissa of Prodigal Pieces is so very amazing. A rating of 10 is deserved. Thank you, Larissa.

~ Stephanie

Prodigal Pieces
2020-03-21T21:39:34-04:00

~ Stephanie

I love this cart, it's exquisite. The item was received in extremely secure packaging, no damage to the item. The delivery person was very professional and courteous. Larissa of Prodigal Pieces is so very amazing. A rating of 10 is deserved. Thank you, Larissa.

I should have left this review MONTHS ago! I absolute love this lunch bag. I honestly carry this 5 days a week. It is the perfect size! Not only can you put your lunch in it, it can also hold your book. I enjoy reading at lunch, so I have all I need in one cute bag. Thank you so much Larissa!

~ Mikki

Prodigal Pieces
2020-03-21T21:43:16-04:00

~ Mikki

I should have left this review MONTHS ago! I absolute love this lunch bag. I honestly carry this 5 days a week. It is the perfect size! Not only can you put your lunch in it, it can also hold your book. I enjoy reading at lunch, so I have all I need in one cute bag. Thank you so much Larissa!

Awww…I love this sweet Cat with an attitude!! SO SO adorable! Well worth the money, and he will become a priceless treasure in my home! Thanks Larissa for always making your ideas turn into true treasures!

~ Sharon

Prodigal Pieces
2020-03-21T21:45:37-04:00

~ Sharon

Awww…I love this sweet Cat with an attitude!! SO SO adorable! Well worth the money, and he will become a priceless treasure in my home! Thanks Larissa for always making your ideas turn into true treasures!

Perfect purchase from start to finish! Absolutely adorable piece so creatively thought out. Packed with the greatest of care with lightening fast delivery. Very customer-oriented and friendly crafter. Could not ask for more! Thank you!

~ Deanna

Prodigal Pieces
2020-03-21T21:52:00-04:00

~ Deanna

Perfect purchase from start to finish! Absolutely adorable piece so creatively thought out. Packed with the greatest of care with lightening fast delivery. Very customer-oriented and friendly crafter. Could not ask for more! Thank you!
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