Today we are going to have a glimpse of what I do during the day as a sign maker. Since I have been asked about this subject a few times I thought it would be good to share the answer.
How do I paint carved letters?
First, let me say it doesn't matter if you carve the letters by hand or use a CNC machine. The end results are the same, one just costs a ton more than the other.
Second, you can paint letters freehand without this super cool and easy technique, some would even say freehand is the most professional method. It just takes more talent and more time. Sometimes on curved surfaces you have no choice and have to paint the letter freehand, but when you can make it faster, cleaner, and easier, why not.
Another great thing about this technique is that it is not expensive.
There are other ways to paint V-carved letters besides freehand or the way I just showed you. The other method is this: Prime and Paint without regard for the boarders of the letters. (basically color outside the lines) Then, when the paint is dry, run it through a sander removing everything outside of the carved letters. Though this works sometimes, it looks like crap. The paint can always bleed deep in the wood, making the letters look blotchy. But worst of all, and my biggest issue with this technique, is how the edges of the letters look and what is done to them. The paint shows traces of being sanded, which makes a shaded outline around your letters, and it can cause the paint to peel faster in outdoor conditions. This technique has been written about in books, though they conveniently leave out the down falls. I have seen bad things happen with this technique, so I would avoid it whenever possible.
And for a teaser, here is a short clip of the CNC at work. Definitely can carve letters faster than I can.