Painting Letters on Canvas; What Are the Different Methods?

Canvases featuring inspiring messages are now quite trendy. Not everyone is born with excellent handwriting and a steady hand. But don’t worry, we’ve discovered a solution!

We’ve tested and adjusted several ways for transferring writing onto canvas after creating dozens of quotation canvas paintings. Here are the best four ways for writing on canvas and creating a stunning, customized work of art!

You’ll need to start with a canvas for each of these approaches. I recommend looking for a canvas that is stapled on the back by notches, such as this one on Amazon. You’ll also need at least two contrasting paint colors.

Because of its short drying period, acrylic paint is ideal for this project. If you don’t want to deal with the trouble and mess of painting by hand, you may use spray paint instead. Most painters like the Krylon brand of spray paint. 

How To Paint Letters On Canvas

We can paint letters on canvas using the following methods:

  1. Stickers
  2. Stencils
  3. Carbon Paper Transfer
  4. Collage

1. Stickers

Using vinyl letter stickers to transfer letters onto canvas is perhaps the quickest and easiest method. Make sure that your letter stickers are vinyl and do not state “permanent.” Vinyl letter stickers, which are available on Amazon, can be used.

Pros: This approach is simple and straightforward to apply using spray paint.

Cons: Font and size options are restricted.

What You Will Need

  • Vinyl letter stickers
  • Ruler

How To

  1. Paint your canvas the color you want your letters to be. Allow it to dry.
  2. Apply your letter stickers to the canvas. Make sure your writing is equal and straight by measuring the space between letters with a ruler.
  3. Over the stickers, paint your background color (be careful- if you paint too rough, your letters will move). If you apply the paint too thickly, it will lift off when you remove your stickers. Allow your canvas to dry mostly.
  4. Remove stickers while the canvas is still somewhat sticky. If you’re having problems removing the stickers, you can use tweezers.
  5. You may need to use a tiny paintbrush to tidy off the edges of your letters.

2. Stencils

If you intend to paint a more intricate backdrop, stencils are a wonderful way to go because you can easily paint the letters over your background. Quotes may be painted on canvas while using stencils.

Pros: It appears to be clean and sharp. Also, you can choose more typefaces.

Cons: It may be time-consuming!

What You Will Need

  • Stiff plastic stencils
  • Two little paintbrushes
  • Water
  • Paper towel
  • Ruler

How To

  1. Paint the backdrop of your canvas in the color of your choice. Allow it to dry.
  2. Measure the distance between each line of your text. Place your stencil down and paint over the letter with care.
  3. Make sure that your paint is not wet.
  4. Straighten your back.
  5. With a clean, somewhat moist brush, clean the letter’s edges. Any extra paint that spilled around the edge of the stencil should be lifted off the canvas by using the brush. Wipe excess paint from your stencil with a paper towel. Allow the paint to dry fully.
  6. You can go on to the next letter once the previous one has dried.

3. Carbon Paper Transfer

Among painters, this is the most popular way of writing on canvases!

Pros: It produces crisp, clear lines and is faster than stenciling.

Cons: This approach requires a steady hand. Furthermore, the carbon might smear and get a bit sloppy on the canvas.

What You Will Need

  • A computer & printer
  • Carbon paper
  • Ballpoint pen
  • Scissors & tape
  • Small paintbrush

How To

  1. Paint the backdrop color of your choice on your canvas. Allow it to dry.
  2. Locate a font you like on your computer (if you can’t find one, Google has many fantastic fonts you can download for free at
  3. Make a quotation on paper. Determine the size of each letter or word and resize your font. Make a copy of your quotation.
  4. Arrange the quotation on the canvas. Depending on the size of your canvas, you may need to cut the phrases out and reposition them.
  5. Underneath each phrase, place a piece of carbon paper facing down, and tape the paper and carbon paper to the board.
  6. With a ballpoint pen, trace over the letters. If you press too hard, you will damage your canvas. Remove the tape and papers with care.
  7. Paint the opposing color within the lines using your tiny paintbrush. Allow drying. If you use a light color on a dark backdrop, you may need to apply two coats.
  8. Remove any remaining pencil markings.

4. Collage

Attaching letters to a canvas collage-style is a foolproof method. This method gives your artwork a clean look and is ideal if you don’t want hand-painted lettering. Letters or words from a magazine or booklet can be used, as can printed words or letter stickers. You may also cut letters from fascinating objects such as wallpaper samples or maps!

Pros: Simple, adds texture.

Cons: Longer dry time, restricted writing size, colors, and shapes.

What You Will Need

  • Mod Podge (comes in matte or glossy)
  • Foam brush
  • Letter stickers or cut-outs

How To

1. Paint the backdrop color of your choice on your canvas. Make sure that the color contrasts with the colors of your letters. Allow it to dry completely.

2. Check the positioning of your letters or words on the canvas.

3. Apply Mod Podge to the back of each letter and adhere it to the canvas. On top, apply another coat of Mod Podge. It will appear white while wet, but it will dry clear! Allow the canvas to dry.

4. Apply a second layer of Mod Podge to the letters to seal any edges and allow them to dry. Depending on how thick your writing is, you may need to repeat this step to ensure the edges don’t peel up.

5. Use a finishing spray to seal your artwork (optional). The Mod Podge works as a sealer, but I prefer to apply the spray finish at the end to fill in any brush strokes and make the painting seem more even.

Final Verdict

You can use any of the above methods to paint letters on your canvas. My favorite technique is to use stickers as it requires little to no hard work and spraying, which I agree can be messy, but at the same time, it is fun as well.