I'm sharing this guide, not as a chalk expert, but as an amateur myself — hoping what I've learned through my practice will be helpful to other newbies.
The following is the basic method of how I design and layout my chalk lettering. I'm sure there are other ways of doing it, but this is what I learned makes the most sense to me. In my experience, it helps to have a plan in place and take things in steps.
Figure Out What Phrase or Quote You Want to ChalkSometimes I already have something in mind of I want to say and sometimes I browse Pinterest or google quotes on a specific theme. I suggest you start with a shorter saying until you get the hang of things. Also keep in mind the size of your canvas when selecting your quote. If you have a whole wall, then you can go crazy with a long quote, but if you're just using a small canvas, keep it short and sweet.
I chose "I love the point when you are so tired that everything is funny" for my example.
Lay It Out On Paper1. Write it out. Now's not the time to worry about handwriting or style — just get the words on the page.
2. Decide what shape you want to fill. If your canvas is rectangular and you want to fill the whole thing, then draw a rectangle. In my case, I thought a circle would be a nice shape for this particular short saying.
3. Think about which words are the most important and emphasize them. In my case, I wanted to emphasize "tired" and "funny." The most effective way to do that is to put them on their own line. Since I was working with a circle, I figured out that "tired" needed to be quite big and wide to fill the central spot. I then balanced the rest of the saying to fill my shape.
Select the Style of the Important WordsFor my example, I already knew that I needed a big and wide style for "tired." I try to pair the mood of the saying with the style of the lettering, so I didn't want anything too frilly or serious. So I sketched out a few examples until I found something that I liked. Here also is not a time to try and letter the words perfectly, just do a rough sketch.
The top example wasn't bold enough and looked a little too thin, so I chose the second and wider choice. For the word "funny", I didn't like how the two "n's" can look like an "m" in the script. I almost liked the second sketch, but at the last minute decided to not shade in the bold downstrokes.
If you don't think you can come up with your own lettering style, pick out an appropriate font and try to copy that as closely as you can.
Draft It UpNow we get to the chalk. Draw your shape and roughly sketch in the words, paying attention to scale. This sketch is not for style, but for size. To get things centered, I don't write from left to right, but start in the middle and work out.
Fill It In — Top to BottomLine by line, I erase the rough sketch and carefully chalk in my lettering. I start at the top because I usually end up accidentally smudging the lower lines as I go.
Embellish ItThe last thing I do is embellish. For my example, I made the circle into a simple laurel wreath. I like to leave the embellishments until the end because they are of secondary importance to the words. I prefer to keep them rather simple too, which is a purely personal stylistic choice.
I'm intending to write a "part three" that talks more about embellishments and all those pretty little extras soon.
This is the method I used to design my fall chalk wall. Here's my initial sketch:
My chalk wall is tucked in a back corner of the hallway. Here's what it looked like in the end: