Owl Ink Place Cards: Ashley and Justin

Owl Ink Place Cards


Ashley is a friend of my college roommate! She emailed me asking if I could do about 150 place cards for her upcoming wedding. After she sent over a few styles that she liked, we settled on an airy modern calligraphy script on kraft paper. I love how the white on kraft looks rustic, but clean.

It’s definitely wedding season — I was also in a wedding recently (my dearest friend since seventh grade), and repurposed what was left of my bouquet for these photos :)

Here are some photos, plus tips in case you want to DIY your own place cards as well!


Owl Ink Place Cards


As this was my first time doing place cards, I quickly found that I didn’t have the right tools for it. At first, I tried using my Xacto-knife to cut sheets of 8.5 x 11 kraft paper into cards, but I only got about 4 sheets in before realizing that it would take me FOREVER. Armed with coupons, I immediately went to Michael’s and purchased this paper cutter, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that it has changed my life.


Owl Ink Place Cards


I found the best way to quickly churn out 150 cards was to go full-on Henry Ford mode on my stack of paper. This is significantly faster than making each card individually.

  1. Make ALL of your first cuts until you have a stack of 11 x 4 cards
  2. Make ALL of your  second cuts until you have a stack of 4.25 x 5.5 cards
  3. Score ALL of your cards.
  4. Fold ALL of your cards

Note: Scoring is the act of using a dull edge to create an indent in the paper, which makes the fold more clean. The most common tool for this is a bone folder. I don’t have a bone folder, so I used an old credit card and that worked just fine for me.


Owl Ink Place Cards


Owl Ink Place Cards


It is really important to draft your names in pencil first. Names are of varying lengths and letter heights, so planning out the card in advance will ensure that it looks centered when it’s done! I like to use the Palomino Blackwing 602, as I found it to be one of my most easily erasable pencils.


Owl Ink Place Cards


Time for ink! I did my first run of names in basic script, making sure to follow my pencil marks. Because kraft paper is more coarse, I was not able to use a dip pen due to the paper fibers catching on my nib. This extra-fine Uni Posca white paint marker was perfect for the job.


Owl Ink Place Cards


Once the first pass was done, I added swells on individual letters to give my script the graceful line variation that is characteristic of modern calligraphy.  You can find a full tutorial on this method over at Lindsay’s blog post, Cheating Calligraphy Tutorial!


Owl Ink Place Cards


I filled in the swells with my white marker, let the ink dry, and then gingerly erased the pencil lines with a soft kneaded eraser.

After doing a few names, you kind of get into a groove and before you know it, you’ve done 10 or more. I did these cards in small batches of about 20 or 30, usually in the evenings after I got home from work. I would put on one of my favorite podcasts and just write on — it was a great way to unwind from the day!


Owl Ink Place Cards


Owl Ink Place Cards


Owl Ink Place Cards


Owl Ink Place Cards


Owl Ink Place Cards


Owl Ink Place Cards
I’m sending these off to Ashley tomorrow! It’s been a fun project for me, and I hope they accent her wedding day beautifully :)


Owl Ink Tutorials: How to Add Lettering to a Photo

How to Add Lettering to a Photo


Today I will show you how to add lettering art to a photograph! This is a neat way to create custom graphics for your blog, portfolio, Instagram… or just for fun!

In this example, I will be using a personal photo. If you don’t have any nice photos on hand, a great place to pick up some high-res creative commons photos is Unsplash.



Create Your Lettering


Here, I used the Akashiya New Fude Brush to create a loose, dry brush script. I chose a segment from this quotation by John Muir:

Take a course in good water and air; and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own. Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you.

I made a few different versions to choose from. Since we will be editing our lettering in Photoshop, it’s ok if some letterforms aren’t perfect! Little imperfections, like smudges or lopsided letters, can all be fixed.


Lettering on Photos


If you have a scanner, scan and save your image. If not, no worries! I do all my “scanning” with my iPhone camera. Just Dropbox/iCloud/email it to yourself to get it on your computer.



Edit Your Lettering


Open your lettering in Photoshop. It might look pretty dark and messy, but here’s where Photoshop magic comes in!

First, open up some adjustment layers and play around with the sliders until the image has a pretty clear contrast between black and white.

I usually use one or a combination of these adjustments:

  • Curves: This is the QUICKEST fix, but it doesn’t always work. In the Curves adjustment layer, simply click the “white” eyedropper and then click on any part of your photo that is supposed to be white. (Sometimes this washes out your image, especially if your photo was taken with uneven lighting, like mine. In this case, I didn’t use curves.)
  • Saturation: Slide saturation down to remove the yellow from indoor lighting.
  • Levels: Move the two sliders around until the black/white contrast is more clear.

I used Levels to edit this photo. You can watch me do it here!




Now you can delete your white background easily!

  • Go to the Magic Wand tool.
  • Make sure  “Anti-Alias” is selected.  (This makes the result less jagged)
  • Make sure “Contiguous” is NOT selected. (Contiguous means it will only select pixels that are connected. For example, it wouldn’t get the white space in the middle of the letter O, because it’s isolated.)
  • Click anywhere on your white background. You’ll see some little “marching ants”, which shows what you’ve selected to delete.
  • Hit delete!

You can watch me do it here:




« Note: be sure to save periodically :)  »



Compose Your Lettering


Now that we’ve isolated our letters, it’s time to compose our final piece.

  • If you made multiple versions, pick which one you want to use.
  • Using a selection tool like the lasso, select and delete the ones you don’t want.
  • Tweak the letters to your liking. In this example, I didn’t like how “Go” looked like it was leaning too far to the left, but I liked its shape. I just cut out “Go” using the lasso tool, and rotated it (Ctrl-T to rotate) until it looked better.

You can watch me do it here:




Now you are ready to put the lettering on your photo!



Combine Lettering and Photo


Here’s my favorite part: putting it all together!

  • Copy your lettering art and paste it on top of your photo.
  • Move the lettering layer until you are satisfied with the position.
  • Make any final tweaks to the spacing/sizing.

Since my photo is dark, I want to make the text white so it pops. Here’s an easy way to do that!

  • Right click on your lettering layer and select “Blending Options”.
  • Tick the box for “Color Overlay”.
  • The default color overlay  is red — change this to white.
  • Click OK.

You can watch me do it here:




Save and admire your finished work! :)




This post was made with Recordit, an awesome screen-to-gif software I just discovered. It’s super easy to use and I’d highly recommend it.

(I’m not affiliated with Recordit, I just thought it was really cool and wanted to share)