DIY: Faux Chalkboard Seating Chart
image via I Doux
I’ve wanted to incorporate chalkboards for awhile, and had settled on using one for our seating chart. However, my handwriting is not the best, and I couldn’t get the image of a smudged seating chart out of my head. Seriously, how do these people transport their chalkboards without smearing them? Oh, right, you can use a spray fixative (found at art/craft supply stores) to add a protective coating. Well, I still didn’t want to write out 150+ names, even if I could condense the couples into one line. So I thought to myself, why not print something to create a faux chalkboard? I work at a printing company, after all, so it’s perfect.
image via Idoityourself
photo by Lorraine Daley Photography
The first step was to acquire a high-quality photograph of a chalkboard texture to use as a convincing background. I couldn’t find a good one from my free stock photography sources, so I did what any good DIYer does in such a situation: I made one myself. I didn’t have an actual chalkboard to photograph, much less a camera that could take a hi-def photo, so I took the lazy route and made one using a combination of photos and some Photoshop brushes. I then placed the image into InDesign, worked my magic, and ta-da, rough draft of a seating board!
Please excuse all the x’s (to protect privacy) and repeating table numbers (we haven’t actually figured out the assignments yet).
Here’s what you’ll need to create your own:
- Download chalk fonts for free: AllSkratchedUp and Eraser Dust
- Download my chalkboard texture (note: it’s a large file so I zipped it. You can use WinZip or 7-zip to unzip it)
- Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, or Photoshop
Choose your design program. I used InDesign, but Photoshop or a similar program will work as long as you can add type.
Once you’ve unzipped the chalkboard background file, open or place it in your program.
Adjust the size by re-sizing or cropping so that the image fits your board. I started with an 18×24 size document, so if that’s the size you want then you can skip this step.
Select your chalkboard font, font color, and start typing with the type tool! I used “AllSkratchedUp” for the header and “Eraser Dust” for the names.
Here is an image showing edges of my type boxes so you have a better visual of the layout structure.
It may take some time to play with the text so you get a size and layout that works for you. I recommend InDesign if you have it because you can use helpful features like overflowing text and object alignment. These things make it easier to position columns and all your objects neatly, but if you’re unfamiliar with that program or are using different software then you can just eyeball it or use guidelines.
The chalk hearts are additional images that I created to add some spark.
Tip: I do not recommend finalizing the positioning of all the names and numbers until you have a final guest count. It will save you time if you can at least plug in the names and fake table numbers so you don’t have to later, but don’t spend hours perfecting the positioning if you don’t have your seating assignments figured out yet. This is because if you add/remove one name or change a table number, it will change the positioning of the text (especially if you’re using multiple columns), and you’ll have to make adjustments all over again.
Tip: Leave extra room around the edges to accommodate the frame and give some visual cushioning space.
Tip: Using the aforementioned chalk fonts, the uppercase letter/initial is 28pt and the names are all 20pt. if you have less people, you can make these larger, but I wouldn’t go much smaller or it will be hard to read.
Tip: Print a portion of the board at 100% before sending the final to the printer, just to make sure that the type really will be legible at the size you chose. It doesn’t have to be a quality print, just something that gives you an idea of how big the type really is.
And, for those who don’t want to bother but would still like to have a printed faux chalkboard, you can purchase one at idoityourself.etsy.com
Once you have everything finalized, submit your high-quality file to a printer, let them print it, and then insert into your frame of choice!