We moved into a new home last summer, but as is typical for me, the “decorating” part of settling in is a slow work-in-progress. I’ve been wanting some oversized initials to display in my boys’ shared room for some time, but not finding exactly what I had in mind, I set out to making my own. And this exactly is the beauty of DIY — customization and doing your version cheaply! You’ll just have to set aside an hour and a half of your time — not exactly an easy thing for busy parents, but I’m pretty happy with the results.


Materials:
20″ x 30″ sheet foam board
Tape
Metallic-finish spray paint
Scotch Tape
Packing Tape
String

Tools:
X-acto knife (w/ brand-new blade)
Scissors
Paper cutter such as this

Software:
Word editing program
Adobe Acrobat

Create Oversized Initial Template

Step 1: In a word editing program (MS Word, Google Docs, or even Adobe Illustrator, etc.) create a new 8.5″ x 11″ document. Type your initial in a typeface of your liking (I used Gotham Condensed). Increase the font size to fill most of the page and color the initial a medium gray to save ink when printing. Save/Export as a PDF file.

Step 2: Open your file in Adobe Acrobat. Select File > Print to pull up the print dialogue box. Adjust your settings as in the example below:


- In the section Page Sizing & Handling Choose Poster

- Just below that, in the box next to Tile Scale, type in 250 (depending on the font, you may need to go bigger or smaller)

- I left my page Orientation as the default, Portrait

In the right side of the dialogue box, you should see a preview of how the enlarged initial will print out on multiple pages, called Tiling. At the top of the preview, my measurements read 25.5″ x 33″ – this overall size is dependent on the percentage you entered in Tile Scale. I mentioned that you may want to increase or decrease the initial, depending on the font you chose (mine happens to be tall and narrow). Just make sure your overall size will fit on the 20″ x 30″ foam board.

Step 3: Print out your pages.

Step 4: Lay out the pages and piece together with tape. The papers will overlap, so you’ll need to cut off the excess margins using a paper cutter.

My pages didn’t connect together precisely, but since we’re just using it as an outline to create the template it’s a minor issue!

Step 5: Cut out the entire initial.

Make the Initial

Step 6: Lay template onto foam sheet and trace an outline with a pencil. If you have any long, straight edges, align it to the edge of the foam sheet to reduce the number of cuts you have to make.

Step 7: Cut out using an X-acto knife with a new blade (important!) for smoother, cleaner cuts.

When I have to make long, curving cuts (as with the letter ‘D’ or an ‘S’ or ‘C’), I like to work backwards making small cuts versus a long, deep cut that I would very likely mess up! Starting at the end/bottom of the curve, I make a shallow cut just a couple inches in and draw the blade down towards me. Another couple inches up, I do the same; make a small, shallow cut with the tip of the blade, and pull down, connecting my new cut with the first. I repeat this process, working my way up the curve until it is completely cut through.

Step 8: Spray paint your oversized letter. I had to spray on numerous, light coats.

Step 9: Since the foam board is so light, masking tape on the backside is enough to attach it to the wall. Alternatively, you can make a hanger on the backside with a piece of string and two pieces of packing tape.