Hand Drawn Lyrics

Hand drawn lyrics may seem like a cool fad that all the hipster churches are doing, but for us at City Church in Tulsa, we have found that there is something powerful about hand writing. Like receiving a hand written thank you note, seeing something hand written communicates care and connects you to the writer.

In a worship context this is still the case. After we hand drew the lyrics for a special service, I received so much positive feedback from our church about how they were able to focus on worshiping more and how much more engaging the worship experience was that we have now implemented hand drawing all of our lyrics. It’s actually a interesting paradox of how a seemly more distracting element has actually created more focus.

So, if you feel this is something you would like to try, here is my step-by-step process of how I accomplish this and also some resources to help you get started.


Step 1: Write the Lyrics

This part is all subjective and there is not a wrong or right way to do it. We have used 8.5x11 card stock with sharpie, Water color paper with acrylic paint, plain ol’ printer paper and a copic marker. My advice for this part is to write it like you want it to be on screen so that you spend as little time possible in photoshop moving words around.


Step 2: Scan Your Lyrics

Now you need to scan your lyrics. It will work best if you scan in a JPEG format and at 300dpi. If you don’t have a scanner just take a picture of it, I’ve done that in a pinch when we added a new song on Sunday morning or when we’ve painted the lyrics on paper that was too big to scan.


Step 3: Open Scans Into Photoshop


Step 4: Create a New Document the Size of Your Screen


Step 5: Clear White Background

This is one of those things in photoshop that there are 10 different ways to do, so I am just going to show you my way and you feel like another way is easier, go for it! Also, I have recorded an action for this step so I don’t have to do this with every single scan. I just click the action and it’s done. (My action is included in the resources download)

1. Return to your scan document and double click on the “Background” layer and click ok (or press enter) OR in the newest versions of PS you can click the padlock icon on the layer.

2. Go to Image - Adjustments - Levels (or Command-R)
Clicking and dragging the black and white triangles, make the paper pure white and the words black.
Click "OK"


3. Click the “New Layer” icon in the layer pallet. Then drag the new layer below your scan layer.

4. Double click your scan layer to open the layer styles dialog box.
In the “Blend If” section, drag the white triangle on the “This Layer” gradient to the left until the white background of your scan disappears.
Click “OK”

5. Merge scan layer with the new layer you created.
You can do this by right clicking the scan layer and clicking merge down OR using the shortcut Command-E


Step 6: Copy Lyrics to Your New Document

1. Using any selection tool, select the lyrics your for your first slide.
2. Copy the selection by going to Edit - Copy OR using Command+C

3. Go to your new document and paste the lyrics by going to Edit - Paste OR using Command+V

4. Turn off the background layer by click the eyeball icon


Step 7: ResizeLyrics to Fit Slide


Step 8: Make White

(I have also recorded an action to automate the next three steps as well) 

1. Double click on the lyrics layer to open the layer styles dialog box
2. Click “Color Overlay”
3. Set color to white
4. Click “OK"


Step 9: Save

1. File - Save As
2. Change name to the name of the song with 01 at the end 
3. Change the file type to PNG
4. Click Save

Special note: I would recommend first saving as a PSD in the folder you want all the slides to be saved to. Then saving again as a PNG. This will make saving all following slides much easier.

Special note if you are using my action: before you play the action for the first time on each song, double click on the “Save” step, rename the file and save in the desired folder. This will eliminate you having to find the appropriate folder and rename the file each slide.


Step 10: Turn Off Top Layer

1. Click the eyeball icon next to the lyric layer. This clears the document so it’s ready for your next line of lyrics.


Step 11: Repeat Steps 5-10 For Each Slide


Step 12: Import Files Into Your Presentation Software

Since the slides are transparent PNG’s you can put them on a motion background or just black




Cody Jensen is a freelance creative with focus in graphic design and photography. He has been cultivating his craft since the age of 12, and designing professionally since 2006. In addition to his creative and clothing companies, Cody is the Creative Director for City Church. Using his creative vision to connect people on a deeper level.