Brush-Eye Coordination

10 May

I was just thinking what someone learning to paint signs run into, because I know I had this problem in the beginning stages.

I remember that when following a layout or pattern that people have a  tendency to either look where they’re going with the brush or look where they have just painted.  But in reality you do both, mainly in front of where your headed with the brush first and sort of a split vision watching the painted area second . If you spend more time looking behind you, you will spend a lot of time starting over.

One other thing is to thin your paint so that it flows smoothly without dripping or running. Most of the time straight out of the container, the paint will drag on you and not spread as it should.

That’s all for now, but I will continue to add tips often. So come back or comment at bottom of post and check email notifier to catch all my new posts.

Thanks James Chastain


Three Dimensional Letters

7 Apr

Hi  first of all, I want to personally thank you for reading my tips and hopefully you can apply them and shorten your learning curve. Sign Painters, while learning the trade often get discouraged, because of the expanse  of the art. But as so many worth while skills it takes time, so if you love sign painting stick with it, you’ll get there!

Enough of that, I promised something about dimensional letters, so what you say we get to it.

When you put your basic letters on your sign, you can dress them up various ways. You can put a band around the letter or you can shade the letter or you can do both. Another thing can do is have a banner, strip or cloud or really whatever you choose behind the letters. Now I will give you some examples of this using basic color combinations.

1.  Say your using a light blue overall background, the letters you want are about six inches tall. Paint eight or nine inch high strip across the sign all the way to the end or leave a space at the ends, which ever you prefer using a darker blue than the background. this would be optional to use the darker strip.

2. Paint your letters in much lighter color than the background, then after this dries you can apply a compatible band around the letter. at this point your lettering has taken on three dimensions from the original background color.

3. Now if you want you can put a drop shade on the letters for even another dimension and this can be done in many different ways, which are explained in my sign painting basics course.

Remember that black and white is not considered color and are neutral or a combination of them  will look good with most other colors.

I hope these tips I share with you are helpful and if you have any questions send me an e-mail via

Be sure and visit my website and please leave a comment, your feedback is needed so I will know what your needing to become a sign artist.

I will post more tips and how tos  very soon!

Thanks James C.

Reverse Glass Painting

9 Jan

I have so much information, I want to share with you and today I am gonna touch bases on reverse glass painting.
Reverse painting is exactly what is implied here. First you only need to do this on clear glass or glass that is slightly tinted, noting that the tint will alter your colors somewhat. The darker tinted glass makes it impossible to see at a distance from the front. deeming it not worth the effort.
So with that said, let’s explore the process of this method of painting. First always clean the glass on both sides to remove any residue. I used white vinegar for this, it removed oily film and tar from smoking etc. better than a regular glass cleaner.
If you have a pattern like mentioned in my last post, you place and tape in place and pounce it onto the glass. If you do not use a pattern, you can use a china marker (grease pencil) to actually draw your letters and art on the front of the glass.
Once this is done, you can then move to the inside and set up for the painting. Depending on the affect you want for example,you paint the main part of the copy first and any secondary color, trim or bands around letters next. If you want to shade the letters, draw this off on the front, after the primary paint has been applied or before if you so choose. Let your base paint that you first applied dry completely before adding ant more paint.This is because when you add a drop shade, you apply it over the whole letter, this makes the letters and art not have transparent areas, giving it a nice smooth affect. This also gives the art a longer lifespan.

I hope this gives you a general idea of how reverse painting is done on the inside of glass.
If you ever have a question about this or any other tip I share with you, please leave a comment and I will answer it, as soon as possible.
Let’s keep sign painting alive, because it is fading very fast.

To your success, James C.

Copying Logos or Trademarks

28 Dec

Just a quick update concerning trademarks and logos. If you want one of these on your sign, you can simplify the process easily by making a pattern. If you do not have access to an opaque projector, usually one can be obtained through your local library. Once you do have access to a projector, put the letter head or business card in it and adjust to the size you desire. you can magnify the image as large as you want by placing the projector further back from whatever you projecting upon. The darker the area is that your working in, the clearer the image will be. Use white paper or standard pattern paper, obtainable through a sign supplier to make your pattern.  Use a soft leaded pencil #3 or better and trace the image you have projected.

Okay, now you are ready to finish the pattern by once again tracing your just drawn outline with a pounce wheel. ( pattern cutter ) You can get one of these at most cloth or dress shops. They use them also for dress making and so on. Place you drawing on something fairly soft to get a good cut. I have used a thick piece of pasteboard for this.

Once you have completed this step, get an old cotton sock and pour about half a cup of builders chalk in it. ( blue works best ) Same chalk that is used in a chalk box or chalk line.

Place your pattern where your design is precisely where you want it and tape in place with masking tape. Then gently pounce the chalk laden sock, know as pounce bag on the paper pattern filling the holes made with the pounce wheel, gently rubbing it as you go.

Once you complete the above steps, remove the pattern, you should have an outline just like the ones in a coloring book to follow.

Check back often for more tips about sign painting.

Until next time, I wish you success in your art endeavors.

James Chastain, /


Sign Painting

12 Oct

Just about sign painting and why it is fading away!

Hi, my name is James Chastain

Like many people around the world, I love art in about every form imaginable. But the one I really hung my teeth in was sign painting. I was amazed at working with paint and brushes to create so many different types of letters and art on an old piece of plywood or metal, at the early age of about 12 years old.

Today when you walk into a sign shop to get a sign for your business or whatever, you do not smell the aroma of paint, mineral spirits or turpentine like you used to. Now all you see is a rack hanging full of assorted colors of vinyl, ready to be cut by a plotter, powered by a brain box called a computer. How sad, there is not so many true artists who enjoys using their own imagination and skills to create a sign. Even though the computer will do all the layout and letter forming for you, it is up to the  programmer to know good layout formats, colors that are compatible  or overall sign basics to make an attractive sign without cluttering it to the point it is not legible twenty feet away. There is a lot more to sign painting or freehand lettering than just paint and brushes. It is a form of art that is cultured and nurtured  over years of trial and error.

There is no-one training for free hand lettering now days , I think mainly because a lot of the old timers, such as myself has moved on to the happy hunting ground and there is not anyone to teach them all the basics and fundamentals of the art. Not only that the younger generation is in the fast lane and don’t won’t to take the time necessary to learn, even though they have God given talents just going to waste.

I have designed a basic sign training package, that would help anyone who is inspired and would like to get involved in this dying art form. After 50 years in the biz, I pretty well covered all aspects for the beginners to get started. Even if you do not use my training lessons, please get help if you are new and want to learn. Don’t let your talent fade with the fading out sign artist.

If you need my help, Please check out my website at