Chalkboard Art: How to Use a Template

A few years ago, I remodeled my kitchen.  The two biggest changes were my DIY new backsplash and chalkboard painted cabinets.  I like the black-and-white look, and I love the utility of chalkboard painted cabinets.  I can write grocery lists, to-do tasks, phone messages, recipes … and so much more!  Also, my kids can draw on the cabinets.  Bored while Mom’s cooking?  Here’s some chalk.  Now get out of my hair.

I can also decorate through the chalkboards.  While I’ve been working on my hand lettering, I prefer using a template.  You can find all sorts of templates online — Pinterest is great for them.  You can also design your own (that’s an upcoming post!) so you get exactly what you want, in the right size.

Also, a template doesn’t have to be a fancy saying with scripty words… it can by an image you find online.  For example, I wanted to put up a snowflake for some winter decoration, so I used Google Image Search.  To find simple images that don’t have lots of clutter around them, try searching for clipart or line versions of what you want.  Instead of typing “snowflake” try “snowflake clipart” or “snowflake line.”  In general, you’ll get simpler images with less background noise.  Once you have the template, print it at an appropriate size.

First, chalk the back of the image.  For this, I like to use cheap sidewalk chalk.  It’s big, so it covers a lot of area in a few swipes.  Also, it’s pretty cheap.  You can get it at the dollar store 3 for a buck, if not cheaper.  Also watch for sales at the end of summer at your local megamart.  Draw over the back side of the image with chalk.  Make sure the whole image is covered, or else you’ll end up with blank spots when you go to trace it.

Place it on the chalkboard surface and secure it with masking tape.  Masking tape is designed so it comes off cleanly (no residue) and won’t damage the chalkboard surface.  (Trust me… you don’t want to use duct tape or scotch tape.)  Make sure you don’t cover anything you want to trace, and don’t chalk the back of where you’ll tape it on the board.

Next, trace over the image.  Press firmly so that the chalk transfers from the back of the image to the chalkboard.  I like to do it with a capped Sharpie.  It gives a nice dark line of chalk and is easy to handle.  If you want to see what you’re tracing (so you make sure you go over everything), use a crayon.  It allows for good pressure and gives a thick line, too.

how to trace a chalkboard templateAfter the whole image is traced, remove the paper.  You’ll have some faint lines where the image goes.  You don’t need it to be ornate or completely filled in.  That comes in the next step. You just want to make sure you have the basic pattern.

finished chalkboard template tracingHere’s the fun part: making it pretty.  Play around with chalks and chalk pens.  I usually do the main image in chalkboard pen to give it a clean, finished look.  The regular chalk tends to provide a fuzzier, softer image.  I do shading, highlighting and background art with regular chalk.  It really gives depth to the image to use multiple colors and types of chalk.

Now, you’re wondering where that template is.  That awesome template proclaiming the truth of coffee.  Here ya go! Coffee Seriously Sign This template is a larger image, so when you print it, you’ll need to print it on poster settings.  (For how to do that — and how to make an awesome custom template — check out my post How to Make Custom Templates Using Only Word)  So print it, trace it, enjoy it.

I’m going to enjoy my coffee now.  Because I take it very seriously.