Should I Draw Text In My Artwork?

It will happen to you eventually. You’re working on this great piece of art put then you realize that your subject matter contains text. Should you include the text or leave the text out?

Text in Artwork

Letters and numbers can show up in unexpected places in your artwork’s subject matter. Of course you’ll find it on obvious sources such the books used in a still life setup, but text can also sneak into all kinds of subject matter. If you’re painting a landscape the buildings or cars may certainly show off some text. How about that portrait of your friend? There might be text on her clothing.


Should You Include Text?

You should only include text in artwork if you can do it very well. If the text cannot be drawn or painted with great accuracy you are always better off leaving it out altogether.  A great rendering can certainly be spoiled with sub-par lettering. If the text is a critical part of your artwork’s composition you had better learn how to create accurate renditions of letter forms or choose a different composition altogether. An amazingly rendered work of art falls to pieces if the text in the artwork is not drawn properly.


Drawing Letters

Okay, you’ve decided to use some letters and numbers in your drawing.

Here’s a few tips for getting text right in your artwork:

  • Use Low Contrast – Having the letters stand out because they are exceptionally light compared to their surroundings will only draw attention to their subtle imperfections. Avoid harsh contrast and sharp outlines when including text in artwork.
  • Study The Typeface – The majority of the printed text you will come across in your artistic subject matter will be an actual, machine made typeface (font). You can use your computer to get familiar with the letter forms and print out a sample page to use as a reference.
  • Big Text Only – Never feel like you need to repeat every piece of text that you see. In most cases you can get away with just drawing the largest text and leaving out the smaller text.


This was probably one of the shortest posts I’ve made in a while, but I’d still like to know what you think!



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