The Perfect Background For Custom Calligraphy

Picking the Perfect Background

Handwritten calligraphy looks even better when you have a perfect background that reflects visually what the text says. If you have looked around my site, you’ll notice that 99% of my pieces have some decorative background- it can be a personal photograph, or the perfect background that graphically reflects your text. I STRONGLY encourage you to stretch out of your comfort zone and not choose a “parchment” or plain background. Art combined with your custom calligraphy text will really make it special and unique and add to your enjoyment of the piece every time you look at it!

Close your eyes and think about your text. What do you see in “your mind’s eye”? Go to  and, and enter search terms or keywords. Save the pictures you like in a “lightbox” or save the ID numbers and send them to me. Make sure there’s a place in the photo where I can place the calligraphy. Another great site to pick a perfect background is Again, choose keywords so you don’t have to look through millions of photos!

Finding the perfect photograph for your calligraphy gift 

You may find lots of pictures you love, but it still may not work with the calligraphy. You may love a particular photo but  you have to consider how it will work with the calligraphy text. Here’s the thing I look for- where am I going to be able to put the text?

A photo like the one below has that dark rock right in the middle- and I’d have to write on right side- but it would look unbalanced.

a photo of a huge rock centered in a photograph makes this a poor choice for a background for a calligraphy gift

 Perfect Background for Custom calligraphy text of Christian Scripture superimposed on a photograph of a golden cross at sunset

One of the reasons the photo above is perfect is there’s not a lot of contrast with dark vs. light in the area where the text will be- so the calligraphy  is clear and legible from top to bottom. That would be the problem with the photo below- light on the top (great for black writing), but dark on the bottom, and harder to see the black writing…Photo has too much contrast where custom calligraphy would be written.

the one below would be perfect background- wide enough for text not to interfere with the focus of the photograph.background of a huge rock with cross ontop in the ocean during sunrise with an area perfect for custom calligraphy

The shape of the text

calligraphy text needed vertical border

Some poems have very few words on each line of the poem, but there are MANY lines which makes the poem very long. The shape of this text is going to be narrow and vertical, like the picture with the dates in the example. Others have many words per line and can form either be almost a square or a long rectangle shape of the text. When you are choosing a photograph to use, it’s important to take that shape into consideration.

It doesn’t look pleasing when there’s a lot of empty space. You want to keep borders: top/bottom/ left and right around the calligraphy about equal.

Here’s an unfortunate example when my customer didn’t believe me that we needed a border to widen the appearance of the calligraphy poem. You need to image that if the size of the text was made larger, it will also get longer. Calligraphy is proportional. That’s part of the design that I must take into account when thinking about the “shape of the calligraphy text” and the type of photograph you choose.


Photograph can only be boxed

The poem, Her Hands written in calligraphy with a photograph of a mother's old hands with a younger person

Sometimes the photograph cannot be used for an entire background, but can be part of the calligraphy design. If you look the beautiful photograph of the young and old hand, you’ll see that there’s no place for calligraphy to fit on that photograph. In that case, a parchment paper background, or a color background can pull the calligraphy art piece “together”.



no place for the calligraphy on a photo

Here’s another example so you can see how I have to figure out where where your calligraphy text will fit best with the photography you’ve chosen.

Sometimes I have to use photoshop “magic” to extend the beach or a background. But that’s not always possible.




Now you know how to pick the perfect background image for your calligraphy! Believe me, you will be happy you put in this effort when you see the final result. Click here, or on any of the photos to get started with an inquiry.


How To Take A Great Photograph

If you are going to take a picture to include in your calligraphy order, I have written a blog about 7 tips to make sure your picture comes out great.

If you’re taking a picture of something flat, it’s particularly difficult to get it in great focus. If you have a printer/scanner that would probably give you the best results. Set the scanner to 300 dpi to get the sharpest results for printing.

And if you’re going to take a picture make sure to take a bunch of them so you can choose the best one! Even professional photographers take multiples of any shot – just to make sure they get the results they want. And since we don’t use film any more, it’s practically free to take thousands of photographs!

You can do it! Good luck!

Signature - Make It Beautiful, Lianda


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