How to Make Subway Signs and Messy Canvas

Subway signs showed up a few months ago as a fun project and use a lot of fonts.  You all know fonts are on of my favorite things so this project was a natural.  You can also create a Messy Canvas using the same technique, but with a few more steps. Instructions for The Messy Canvas  project are here.

Instead of giving you a design, I am going to walk you through the steps of creating your own subway signs.  They are a very personal project and I want you to be able to make it special to you or the person you are giving it to.

What You Will Need:
      • a canvas ( I used a 5X7 but use what you like)
      • vinyl at least that big
      • Pick
      • Light source (Brightpad)
      • My download file (if you want to do my project)

The first step is to choose a subject.  Here are a few examples:

For this tutorial I did a Kitchen subway sign because everyone has a kitchen.

Creating Your Design

The first step is to draw a box the same size as your canvas.  Change the outline to a score.  This keeps it out of your way but gives you an idea of the proper size you want to stay within.  

Next, choose a bunch of words that represent or relate to that subject.  I always use the subject as the middle word in the subway signs.  Type them as text making them size 40.  You shouldn’t go much smaller than that to be able to weed the project.  Make some of them vertical or rotate a few so that there is a variety.  Leave them all as the default font for now.  It doesn’t matter if they are too big for right now.  we will adjust that when we change the font later.

Add Frame
Add Frame

Change each font for each of the words and begin to place them so that they fit inside your outline.  If you use cursive fonts or fonts inside shapes try to move the letters together so that they can be welded into one long shape.  Look at the words BLENDER,  FAMILY and COOK below.

Change the font
Change the fonts

Try not to use a font more than once. You also want fonts with some volume to make it easier to weed later.  I always put the subject work in the center and put some type of frame around it so that It becomes the main focus of the project.

Add Frame
Add Frame

Fill in the gaps between words with more words but leave enough space so that they don’t overlap.  If you need help finding words I find this vocabulary list site very helpful.

Fill in the Spaces with more words
Fill in the Spaces with more words
Dealing with Open Spaces

There are going to be spaces that you just can’t fill in.  That is ok.  Fill them in with simple images that fit with your theme.  Below you can see the teapot and spoon for example.  I like my subway sign text and images to be all one color but you don’t have to.  It just makes it easier when you can cut the whole project from the same piece of vinyl.

subway sign
Finished Subway Sign Design
Finishing Up

Once you are happy with the design, remove the shape outline and cut the project out of vinyl.  Weed the vinly and apply it to the canvas.

If you need a refresher on working with and weeding vinyl see my vinyl tutorials.

The subway sign is finished.  Enjoy. Remember Messy Canvas is another project very similar to this one

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