Mule Deer Interpretative Sign

Thank you Andrea for helping me understand the anatomy of letters and how to form them with a brush. I took on this volunteer sign painting project for my local state park. My challenge was to paint the letters on a board with a brush and enamel paint. It was not as easy as I expected. I have painted the names on boats, making much bigger letters on a generally smoother surface, and I have written calligraphy on paper with nibs. This class helped me to figure out how to practice painting letters with a paint brush first on paper and selecting the right size letters to fit the cut out shape, and how to select the proper brush. I tried to make heavier down strokes and lighter up strokes but I didn't feel I had enough control of the size 1 round liner brush. It still made wider strokes than I wanted. 

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To decide line spacing and letter size I first drew evenly spaced lines on sketch paper and wrote words in pencil. Then I painted over them. I found I could use a small liner brush fairly well on paper. But it was harder on the board. I learned to add a little water to the white enamel paint to get a consistency that would allow me to draw more of the letters before dipping back into the paint. 

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I traced the deer shape on paper, printed the letters in pencil, then fit the paper to the board and secured it with painter's tape. To transfer the lettering from the paper to the board I traced letters, pressing very hard with a ball point pen. I had to cut the paper on the back of the deer to get a good fit between the support posts. When I lifted the paper I could barely see the letters when I painted the front side, but I could see them well enough for a guide. I could not see the letters at all on the back side; maybe it had been painted with a different type enamel paint. I had already tried white chalk and white prisma colored pencils. Nothing white I tried would stick to the black enamel. Finally I had to trace again one or two words at a time and then quickly write them with the ink from the pen right on the board. The blue ink looked red on the board and I could see it well enough for a guide. 

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I painted the front side of the board  while leaning it against my deck and standing. That worked pretty well and the letters are more delicate than on the back. I wanted to sit to paint the back. I could paint the head and neck sitting in a short swivel chair but to get a good position for the middle section I had to sit on a child's chair I use for gardening. It barely fit so I had to sit still for a long time and keep painting. I had printed the letters on paper while laying the board flat on a table but my back hurt the next day. Finding a position where I could paint the 7 foot tall sign was another challenge. It was too big for my studio. 

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I put 2 coats of paint on each side of the sign. I'm glad it's done. I learned a lot. I hope I never have to paint white enamel on black enamel again. But my confidence is up. Next I want to try some different fonts and even my own style on things like this old wooden child's chair, less text and fun lettering styles. The ranger wanted all this text on the sign, using both sides. All in all, I'm satisfied with the deer sign and I think the ranger will like it. It's for the children's forest and it's supposed to look hand written, which I think it does. 

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