Calligraphy must fit a space-like cinderella's shoe
Calligraphy Services, Photography, Photoshop Magic & calligraphy

How To Choose the Perfect Background For Custom Calligraphy

sunset photograph artwork combines perfectly with calligraphy poems

Choosing the Perfect Background

Choosing the perfect background for your handwritten calligraphy makes your finished custom calligraphy text even more appealing because there's also a beautiful background. This is the only site online that I've found where you can add the artwork of your choice, including your own photographs to the handwritten calligraphy to create a one of a kind personalized gift! Check out all of the ideas that you've probably never even thought about! 

I always feel like an image enhances and elevates a quote. It also makes it more memorable because you have that visual that reflects the meaning you imagine in the text- the reason it's meaningful to you! It captures your attention when you walk past it. It creates a visual memory that goes with the words.

Think about it.  I bet you’ve never seen an advertisement that is just text on a parchment or plain color background! And those artists make tons of money for their exciting and motivating designs!

If you have looked around my site, you’ll notice that 99% of my pieces have some decorative background- it can be a personal photograph, or the perfect background that graphically reflects your text. I STRONGLY encourage you to stretch out of your comfort zone and not choose a “parchment” or plain background. Art combined with your custom calligraphy text will really make it special and unique and add to your enjoyment of the piece every time you look at it!

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone - Neale Donald Walsch

How To Find The Perfect Photograph or Image for Calligraphy

Close your eyes and think about your text. What do you see in “your mind’s eye”?

reading a book and imagining images from the text

I may be ruining your ability to read by telling you this, but here goes: when you read anything you are running a silent video with pictures and images in your head. You’re probably not aware of it, but we think in pictures. All you have to do it pay attention to what you’re “seeing” in your head to get a great idea for a background image for your calligraphy text!

Calligraphy Text Determines Your Background

How to choose the right background image for your calligraphy depends on many factors. It's a different kind of art than others because you need to fit the "shape" of your text into a background. So just finding a pretty background is probably not always going to work! You need to look at your text and see, not the words, but the shape of the words. I know, it's confusing! But I'm here to help you.

The Size of Calligraphy

It's also important to figure out the approximate size that you prefer. Are you going to hang the calligraphy on the wall centered over a large object (such as your couch or bed) or put it on a bookshelf. You want to have balance, so you don't have a custom piece of calligraphy art the size of computer paper centered over your couch! It would be lost!

A good way to figure out what the final size should be is to take some tape and put it up on the wall where you want to hang your calligraphy poem or text. Or you can also cut up some cardboard to approximate the size that you like. That gives you a feel for what it will look like.

The Shape of Your Calligraphy Text Determines How To Choose the Perfect Background

shape of calligraphy to choose background

Your text has a shape that's determined by how long each line is, (that's the width) and how many lines of writing there are (that's how tall it will be).

If you have a poem with specific line breaks and number of lines, your text will decide the best final dimensions of your final piece of artwork. 

The width of the finished piece depends upon how many words are on each line. The height depends upon how long (how many lines or paragraphs) are in the text.

It's important to leave borders around the writing in the artwork, and they generally should be equal on both sides, top and bottom.  So now you see that calligraphy has to find it's own size. I can shrink the size of the entire piece, but it must keep its proportions, or the calligraphy will be either stretched or compressed!    

You may think: make it larger- but when the size of the letters are bigger, they get wider as well.

Even if you have a plain background such as "parchment" you see that the piece looks empty and unbalanced because there's too much space on the sides! 

Standard Size for Framing

There are certain sizes that are standard for framing. If you are going to have your piece professionally framed you don't need a stand size frame.   Check out the terrific options I have at Beautiful Calligraphy for different styles of framing) But you still want balance of borders in the calligraphy and background.

If you have a more "free style" text where line breaks are not important, such as a personal letter, you still want to take into account "orphan" words. I never like leaving one or two words on a line by themselves. While it's easy to do this with a computer and adjust the size of the font, it's not the same with writing hand calligraphy! I have to set up each line manually. It's hard to read very long lines of text. Your eye actually gets tired. So I work to keep the maximum number of words per line to about 14-16 words.

In fact, you  probably do this automatically when you are reading text on the computer. You can make the window larger or smaller and that adjusts both the size of the font and how many words are on a line.

I know, it's a bit confusing. I'm sure if someone was great at math they'd be able to figure out a way to do it. But I'm just a creative type and I have to "see" what the line looks like. AND, I have to figure out where to break lines so it makes sense. 

Balance The Look of Calligraphy With Decoration

I make sure that your calligraphy looks beautiful with using decoration to balance the sides. This poem was long and narrow.  This is a poem written by the famous author Charlies Baudelaire entitled "Always Be Drunk". Luckily I found the perfect picture which was also long and narrow of someone pouring from a wine bottle and missing the glass. I guess the drinker already had enough wine in them while pouring! 

You can see how that balanced the shape of the calligraphy and elevated the look of the calligraphy to make it look really great! This is one of my favorite calligraphy pieces. 

Narrow shape of calligraphy balanced with decoration

Don't Buy A Frame Before Your Calligraphy is Completed

It's  best practice not to buy a frame before you have your custom hand calligraphy finished. The colors on your mat may be different from what you expect and may clash. And making the calligraphy fit a frame can end up with an unbalanced finished size of what the calligraphy should be. It will be just like trying to fit Cinderella's shoe on a large foot! 

I have lots of great alternatives to framing that come ready to hang. See below for examples and read more about the options. 

Below are examples of calligraphy lettering artwork that were improved by adding some decorative element on either one side or both. You may just want "dark writing on parchment paper" but it won't look good when you see it if the text is not wide enough to fit a pre-determined space. I know it's confusing,  but I hope I've explained it so you understand. If you have questions, just write and we'll come up with the combination of the perfect size and decoration for your needs.

God's name in many different religions written in calligraphy superimposed on background of a Christian Cross in sunset
Shakepeare long text written in calligraphy
long narrow poem in calligraphy with background that balances the space
Birthday calligraphy gift poem for mother-

Where to Find Great Photographs

For free photos go to www.Pixabay.com, and www.unsplash.com, and enter search terms or keywords. If you haven't found any there, the best place with a huge variety is https://stock.adobe.com. The adobe photos cost about $10-$15  but they have the most choices and are really wonderful photos with TONS of options including borders and original watercolors. Make sure to save the pictures you like in a “lightbox” or save the ID numbers and send them to me. Click here to see how to use the filters to speed up your search. Make sure there’s a place in the photo where I can place the calligraphy. Choose keywords so you don’t have to look through millions of photos!

Finding the perfect photograph for your calligraphy gift 

You may find lots of pictures you love, but it still may not work with the calligraphy. You may love a particular photo but  you have to consider how it will work with the calligraphy text. Here’s the thing I look for- where am I going to be able to put the text?

A photo like the one below has that dark rock right in the middle- and I’d have to write on right side- but it would look unbalanced.


perfect background with space for calligraphy on the side

A Perfect Background Has A Place For Calligraphy

One of the reasons the photo above is perfect is there’s not a lot of contrast with dark vs. light in the area where the text will be- so the calligraphy  is clear and legible from top to bottom.

That would be the problem with the photo below- light on the top (great for black writing), but dark on the bottom, and harder to see the black writing… So what color can the text be that will stand out in both sections? RED? You probably don't want that!

Background for calligraphy has too much contrast

 

Photograph With No Space for Calligraphy can only be boxed

Oftentimes a photograph you want to use cannot be used for an entire background, but can be part of the calligraphy design. I can't write over the photo or you won't see the picture! If you look the beautiful photograph of the young and old hand, you’ll see that there’s no place for calligraphy to fit on that photograph. In that case, a parchment paper background, or a color background can pull the calligraphy art piece “together”.
The poem, Her Hands written in calligraphy with a personal photo of a mother and daughter's hands. This calligraphy artwork is personalized.

Creating More Background With Photoshop

In order to write calligraphy marriage vows, photoshop magic extended the background of the ocean.

Photographers Don't Leave Background for Calligraphy

Sometimes I have to use photoshop “magic” to extend the beach or a background. You can see that in the original little photograph example, the couple was centered on the with the ocean background. I had to move the couple to the side and extend the beach on one side to superimpose the caligraphy text. And it’s not even possible. It takes me extra time to do that, and ends up costing you more.

If you are planning on using your wedding photo for calligraphy make sure to speak to your photographer ahead of time and tell him or her not to center all of the photos and leave space for calligraphy.

How To Take A Great Photograph

If you are going to take a picture to include in your calligraphy order, I have written a blog about 7 tips to make sure your picture comes out great.

If you’re taking a digital photograph of another paper photograph, it’s particularly difficult to get it in great focus. If you have a printer/scanner that would probably give you the best results. Set the scanner to 300 dpi to get the sharpest results for printing.

And if you’re going to take a picture make sure to take a bunch of them so you can choose the best one! Even professional photographers take multiples of any shot – just to make sure they get the results they want. And since we don’t use film any more, it’s practically free to take thousands of photographs!

Now you know how to pick the perfect background image for your calligraphy! Believe me, you will be happy you put in this effort when you see the final result. Just contact me to get started with an inquiry.

and....

Alternatives toTraditional Framing 

Framing your calligraphy poem or text takes time and additional money. Sure there are standard size frames. There are times when your finished calligraphy on paper doesn't come out to a standard size. And the choices for ready-made framing are generally not so great. 

In fact, my customers used to complain that the frame cost more than the artwork! Glass over framed calligraphy can change your ability to read because of the reflection. The option is non-glare glass with your frame. The non-glare glass is absolutely invisible is even more expensive than regular glass! If you do traditional framing over paper, you will need to protect your calligraphy artwork (except oil and acrylic paintings) with glass. That's not necessary anymore! 

At Beautiful Calligraphy, I have many options so that you won't have to go shopping and spend a fortune on traditional framing for your calligraphy poem and artwork.

Framing With Glass

One of the things that I love so much about the metal, wood, canvas and other wraps is that you are not separated from the artwork with glass. There's no distortion or reflection with many of the surfaces - unless you choose to have it glossy and reflective (like acrylic). But that even has its charm because you see the artwork through the sides! 

Some of the many different framing options are below, and there are even more!  You may surprise yourself and find something that you will really treasure! AND if you have a smaller piece you can also get a tabletop version with a built in stand! Now curved metal that stand on their own are available as well. Perfect for your fireplace mantle or desktop.

S T R E T C H out of your comfort zone and you may surprise yourself with something you love!

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Acrostic Love Poem for Rachel in calligraphy with beautiful leading letters
Calligraphy Services, Custom Calligraphy, Love Poems, Photoshop Magic & calligraphy, Unique Gift Ideas

Acrostic Poem

Acrostic Love Poem for Rachel in calligraphy with beautiful leading letters

Writing An Acrostic Name Poem

An Acrostic poem is a great technique to write a short, and meaningful poem about a person using their name. For those of us not as skilled as poets this technique uses the first letter of the person's name to write a short, and concise description of that person!  There are even great sites that will help you generate the verse or description using each letter! 

Using Leading Letters in a Name Poem

I love creating leading letters!  They are the first letter in your text. Oftentimes you'll see a "dropped capital" letter in the beginning of a chapter in a book. It gives the opportunity to add a design aspect and color to your calligraphy poem. My calligraphy services allow you to decide whether the  Leading letters will be designed as contemporary with an updated modern look or very traditional. 

Contemporary leading letter W with gold background
Modern-leading letter
Historical-leading-letter

Finding Descriptions for Name Poems

There are websites that can help you come up with positive and fun words to fill in for each letter. Your acrostic poem can be sentimental, inspirational, religious, funny, or even sexy! It's up to you to be the creative writer. That site has lists of positive words for each letter of the alphabet, and that can make it fun for you to come up with a phrase for each letter. Of course the entire line doesn't have to have each word that fits the first letter. Only the first letter and word need to match up.

Acronyms of a Name

Another technique known as an acronym is to create a phrase that jumbles or even reverses the letters in a name to come up with a description. That is not easy for me to do, and luckily, Dr. Google has plenty of places online where you can get assistance. It's going to be hard with short names. But longer names may come out to be something funny! 

Name Definition

Then there are also name definitions. Many names are Biblical or religious and have great stories associated with them. 

Help Writing Your Own Poem

The important point is, there are lots of ways to be creative with writing your own poem. Picking using one of your own photos or a selfie can really add to the final affect by personalizing it!  And no, it's not cheating if you let Dr. Google assist you with word or name definitions! It's a fun and easy was to write your own poem for someone who will really enjoy it! 


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Calligraphy Services, Photoshop Magic & calligraphy

What is a Giclee print?

High Quality Printing of Calligraphy and Photography

If you are looking for the best quality printing of your art pieces, technology now has giclee printing. If you’ve heard the word  “giclee” (gee-clay), it comes from the French word to “spray.” Giclee print technology refers to a kind of printmaking that can be done in "limited runs".  That means you can do one print at a very reasonable cost. In the past printing would cost much more money per print unless you did hundreds at the same time!

Giclee printing technology I’ve chosen uses the highest quality archival pigment inks as well as archival heavy weight art papers that you will really appreciate. These quality pigments (inks) can maintain the color of the giclee print  and not fade for up to a hundred years (with proper care)! Also, the giclee printing process provides better color accuracy than other means of reproduction. It's really difficult to tell the difference between a print and original hand done artwork.

metallic paper makes calligraphy look like it's glowing

When using a  giclee printer you also have lots of paper and even canvas choices. Depending on your background image you might prefer a heavy weight textured paper or a smooth heavy weight photo rag which is great for a photography background. One of the newest choices is metallic paper which glows in low light. It looks really beautiful with night scenes.

Calligraphy can be printed on paper with Deckle edge, especially nice for parchment paper
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Calligraphy Services, Photography, Photoshop Magic & calligraphy

The Perfect Background For Custom Calligraphy

Perfect background for religious calligraphy called God Sky

What is the Perfect Background for Calligraphy Text

Picking the perfect background for your handwritten calligraphy makes your finished custom calligraph look even more appealing. I always feel like an image enhances and elevates a quote. It also makes it more memorable because you have that visual that reflects the meaning you imagine in the text- the reason it's meaningful to you! It captures your attention when you walk past it. It creates a visual memory that goes with the words. It's artwork- not just the written word.

PLEASE, Not Parchment Again!

Think about it. I bet you’ve never seen an advertisement that is just text on a parchment or plain color background! And those artists make tons of money for their exciting and motivating designs! One of the things that attracts you to a particular book is the ARTWORK on the cover. Yes, you do tell a book by its cover! 

If you have looked around my site, you’ll notice that 99% of my pieces have some decorative background- it can be a personal photograph, or the perfect background that graphically reflects your text. I STRONGLY encourage you to stretch out of your comfort zone and not choose a “parchment” or plain background. Art combined with your custom calligraphy text will really make it special and unique and add to your enjoyment of the piece every time you look at it!

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone - Neale Donald Walsch

How To Find The Perfect Photograph or Image for Calligraphy

Close your eyes and think about your text. What do you see in “your mind’s eye”?

reading a book and imagining images from the text

I may be ruining your ability to read by telling you this, but here goes: when you read anything you are running a silent video with pictures and images in your head. You’re probably not aware of it, but we think in pictures. All you have to do it pay attention to what you’re “seeing” in your head to get a great idea for a background image for your calligraphy text!

Where to Find Great Photographs

There are many sites where you can find free stock photographs to use with your calligraphy quote. Here are a few: www.Pixabay.com, and www.unsplash.com. Make sure to enter search terms or keywords in order to limit the hundreds of photos that will appear. If you haven't found any there, the best place is https://stock.adobe.com. The photos cost a bit, but they are really wonderful photos with TONS of choices. You can also limit the choices by using filters that will only show you photos in a particular direction or style. I don't want you to waste your time. And in fact, you will probably really enjoy looking at all of the wonderful photos and images. I had a customer tell me what fun she had traveling through all of the photos before she found the perfect image for her calligraphy quote.

Make SURE to save the pictures you like in a “lightbox” or save the ID numbers and send them to me. Also when you see the image make sure there’s a place in the photo where I can place the calligraphy.

Finding the perfect photograph for your calligraphy gift 

You may find lots of pictures you love, but it still may not work with the calligraphy. You may love a particular photo but you have to consider how it will work with the calligraphy text. Here’s the thing I look for- where am I going to be able to put the text?

A photo like the one below has that dark rock right in the middle- and I’d have to write on right side- but it would look unbalanced.

image with no place for calligraphy text

One of the reasons the photo below is not perfect is because there’s a lot of contrast with dark vs. light in the area where the text will be. I know it's a bit confusing. But the calligraphy needs to be legible and clear from top to bottom. That would be the problem with the photo below- light on the top (great for black writing), but dark on the bottom, and harder to see the black writing… so I'd need a light color for the bottom. You probably don't want two different colors of text. 

Background for calligraphy has too much contrast

The one below would be perfect background- wide enough for text not to interfere with the focus of the photograph.

photo with area for calligraphy

The shape of the text

Long and Narrow text needs a border for balance in a well designed calligraphy piece

Some poems have very few words on each line of the poem, but there are MANY lines which makes the poem very long. The shape of this text is going to be narrow and vertical, like the picture with the dates in the example. Others have many words per line and can form either be almost a square or a long rectangle shape of the text. When you are choosing a photograph to use, it’s important to take that shape into consideration.

It drove me crazy to write out this text this way with huge borders on the side. This is an unfortunate example when my customer didn’t believe me that we needed a border to widen the appearance of the calligraphy poem. It looks unfinished and unbalanced. But I do what my customer wants, even though I know it could look so much better! 

Calligraphy Size is Proportional

Calligraphy size is different from all other art because it's proportional. If the size of the text is made larger (like the font size on a computer), it will also get longer and wider. Calligraphy is proportional. That’s part of the design that I must take into account when thinking about the “shape of the calligraphy text” and the type of photograph you choose.

It doesn’t look pleasing when there’s a lot of empty space. You want to keep borders: top/bottom/ left and right around the calligraphy about equal.

Photograph can only be boxed

image boxed with calligraphy

Sometimes the photograph you want to use cannot be used for an entire background, but can be part of the calligraphy design.

Here’s another example so you can see how I have to figure out where where your calligraphy text will fit best with the photography you’ve chosen.

Sometimes I have to use photoshop “magic” to extend the beach or a background. But that’s not always possible.

Now you know how to pick the perfect background image for your calligraphy! Believe me, you will be happy you put in this effort when you see the final result. Click here, or on any of the photos to get started with an inquiry.

How To Take A Great Photograph

If you are going to take a picture to include in your calligraphy order, I have written a blog about 7 tips to make sure your picture comes out great.

If you’re taking a picture of something flat, it’s particularly difficult to get it in great focus. If you have a printer/scanner that would probably give you the best results. Set the scanner to 300 dpi to get the sharpest results for printing.

And if you’re going to take a picture make sure to take a bunch of them so you can choose the best one! Even professional photographers take multiples of any shot – just to make sure they get the results they want. And since we don’t use film any more, it’s practically free to take thousands of photographs!

You can do it! Good luck!

Traditional Framing Alternatives

Printing technology has changed so much that now it's possible to print on an amazing array of surfaces. Framing used to be incredibly expensive and necessitated covering your artwork (except oil and acrylic paintings) with glass. That's not necessary anymore! In fact, my customers used to complain that the frame cost more than the artwork! Not anymore. And now you don't have to go shopping and spend a fortune on traditional framing for your calligraphy poem and artwork.

One of the things that I love so much about the metal, wood, canvas and other wraps is that you are not separated from the artwork with glass. There's no distortion or reflection with many of the surfaces - unless you choose to have it glossy and reflective (like acrylic). But that even has its charm because you see the artwork through the sides!

Take a look at the options. You may surprise yourself and find something that you will really treasure! AND if you have a smaller piece you can also get a tabletop version with a stand!

S T R E T C H out of your comfort zone and you may surprise yourself with something you love!

Read More
Custom Calligraphy, Photoshop Magic & calligraphy

Long Poems

 

First Anniversary gift, personalized version of Desiderata written in calligraphy & computer font superimposed on wedding photo

Long Poem and Short Budget

Do you have a really long poem and a short budget? Sometimes you need a lot of words to express your feelings. Or there is a poem that you really love and want to have written in calligraphy. But you know it's going to cost a lot because it takes a long time to write out!  

There are so many long poems and texts that we love. It could be a Best Man's speech at a wedding, Biblical scripture, a long epic poem (such as "IF" by Rudyard Kipling, or "Desiderata"). 

You may not have the budget for an expensive long piece of hand-lettered calligraphy. 

Keep reading! there's good news!

post-it notes with reminders

Your text probably doesn't look so great scribbled on lined yellow paper, or typed and stuck over your computer with a thumbtack? Think of all the "post it notes" you'd need to write out the entire poem! LOL

Lower Cost Option For Long Poems

We now have thousands of fonts available on our computers. Fonts on computers have come a long way thanks to Steve Jobs.


With all the tributes to Steve Jobs, one thing tends to get forgotten: the man helped us write. Jobs was the first to give us a real choice of fonts, and thus the ability to express ourselves digitally with emotion, clarity and variety. "Throughout the campus," he remembered at an address to students at Stanford in 2005, '"every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphied." So, having dropped out and finding himself a free agent, he decided to take a class in this art. "I learned about serif and sans serif type
faces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating."
At the time, the student dropout believed that little he had learned would find a practical application in his life. But things changed. Ten years after college Jobs designed his first Mac, and it came with something unprecedented -- a wide choice of fonts.


Combining Calligraphy With Computer Fonts Saves Expense

VERY long Best Man's speech written in computer font with calligraphy titles superimposed on a beautiful background saves the cost of all calligraphy

Using calligraphy for titles and personalization gives your long text the look of custom calligraphy. It can look great and costs a lot less than writing out the entire text by hand.

In fact, doing titles give a professional calligrapher the opportunity to show off how calligraphy enhances any text. The titles can draw attention to your text and the meaning of important lines of text.  ​

Instead of writing out your entire poem or text of any kind entirely in calligraphy I combine computer calligraphy that makes the text look like  custom designed calligraphy. 

The titles in this blog are actually a computer font that looks like Italic Calligraphy letterforms! And there are thousands of available "fonts" (in calligraphy it's called a "hand") that you can choose from.

When I combine hand calligraphy with a perfectly chosen computer font it saves you money without sacrificing the look of custom calligraphy. Because I'm using Photoshop along with hand written calligraphy, I can combine a great looking computer font with handwritten calligraphy titles and personalization. It makes personalization and phrases stand out even more. They can be bolder, have more flourishes (if you like that look), a different contrasting color and I add effects such as a drop shadow. That makes the piece look totally custom!

 I think you'll agree, it really looks like custom handwritten calligraphy! Especially when the text is combined with a perfect background picture, the result is fabulous! Truly! Check out these examples below.

How much does the calligraphy cost?

How do I determine the price of your calligraphy art? I love doing calligraphy and making people happy. That's why I ask your budget when you submit an inquiry. I try to work within your budget whenever possible. But remember the phrase "starving artists"? I am working for a living and have been a professional calligrapher taking classes, studying and practicing for many decades! But it doesn't make it take a shorter amount of time to write out your text. 

So, when you have a really long text, consider combining calligraphy with a beautiful computer font and a beautiful background as a great solution to save money. Let's make something for YOU!

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