What is the Perfect Background for Calligraphy Text? ~
Picking the perfect background for your handwritten calligraphy makes your finished custom calligraphy 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 memorable designs. The things that attracts you to a particular book is the ARTWORK on the cover. Yes, you can pick 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”?
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
NOTE: PLEASE DO NOT find a picture on "Dr. Google" images.
First of all, it is probably too small a resolution for printing.
Secondly, it may be copyright protected and it wouldn't be ethical to "borrow it" for your use without paying the artist.
See below for great places to find wonderful images: photographs, artwork, etc. that will be perfect for your calligraphy text.
There are many sites where you can find free stock photographs to use with your calligraphy quote. Here are a few: 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 Adobe. The photos cost a bit, but they are really wonderful photos with TONS of choices.
You can also limit the choices by following this directions to make it easy. Using filters that will only show you photos in a particular direction or style or even color! 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. Keep reading below so you won't make a mistake picking the wrong kind of image.
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 as a calligrapher: where am I going to be able to put the text so that you can read it and not block your photo image?
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.
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.
The one below would be perfect background- wide enough for text not to interfere with the focus of the photograph.
The shape of the text
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
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 to get started with your order, or just ask questions.
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!