It’s just a roll of brown contractors’ paper. About twelve dollars a roll. It’s probably one of the most basic tools in the shop. And at that price, it’s one of the cheapest. But I couldn’t do much of certain types of carving without it.
Not everything is computers these days; you have to draw something out sooner or later to see if it fits and looks good. You could draft this on a computer, run it off on a large-scale printer, and then play with it. But using some Copenhagen Ships Curves, French curves, brown paper, and scissors to make this template was easier and cheaper to do.
You’ll find that a good pattern gets stored against future use. When doing this sort of stuff, do the intelligent thing, save the turmoil of digging through a collection of similar items, and label things like date created, project, customer, and vertical or horizontal orientation. How do I know? Let’s say it falls within the category of do as I say rather than as I do.
The second photo shows that this banner will have a significant amount of relief and curvature. I could do that with a thick piece of wood, but that’s pretty wasteful, expensive, and not necessarily the best approach. In this case, the ends are glued up from two pieces. I’ll carve them into curved shapes as needed. There are a few ways to make this sort of banner work. The easy way is to keep the area where the lettering will go flat. But if you wish to live dangerously, make all the surfaces curved. If you go the curved route, you’ll need a paper template with printing to naturally alter the lettering to fit the curvatures. Someone better at drafting might be able to freehand this, but I like the security of the pattern. The final photo shows how this effect came out on a large banner I did years ago.
No fancy tools, no drafting programs. Just brown paper and pencils. Amazing what technology can do these days.