Creating a Print-Ready File (Part Two)

 

We’re getting technical again, friends. In my last post I shared some tips about how to turn a hand-painted image into a digital file. Today is all about doing the same thing, but with hand-painted / drawn text instead. The process is a bit different, so I thought it was worthy of a separate post. 

I’ve started incorporating hand-written text into my card designs fairly recently. For a long time I found the process a bit intimidating because I didn’t know where to start. I also didn’t (and still don’t) consider myself a calligrapher, so I felt a bit “unqualified” to create my own text. Though I have a long way to go with my hand-lettering skills, after some practice, I’ve gotten a lot more confident in my ability to create text that pairs well with my artwork.

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I’m still very much in the learning phase myself, and there are lots of methods out there about how to do this, but the process I’m about to walk you through is one that has worked really well for me. Again, this is a bit technical, but I’ll try to make things as clear as I can!

CREATE THE TEXT
You begin, of course, with your hand-written text. The key for this method is to use ink / paint that is solid black. I’ve had good success with both Sharpies and black gouache. 

Once your lettering has been created, you will scan it into the computer at a high resolution (see my last post for more information about scanning). 

PHOTOSHOP
The next step is to bring the scanned file into Photoshop. The goal in Photoshop is to turn your file into a pure black / white image while preserving as much detail as possible. Here we go:

Before multiplying the layer (Step 5).

Before multiplying the layer (Step 5).

After multiplying the layer. You can tell the text is darker and bolder.

After multiplying the layer. You can tell the text is darker and bolder.

  1. Open the file and create a layer from the image (right-click on the image and select ‘Create layer from image’).
  2. Set the white balance of the image (see my last post for white balance info)
  3. Adjust the contrast of the image by selecting ‘Image > Auto Contrast’
  4. Duplicate the layer (right-click on the image and select ‘Duplicate’)
  5. Multiply the new layer onto the original layer (‘Multiply’ is located in the drop-down menu at the top of the ‘Layers’ bar)
  6. Merge the layers together (Command + E)

Ok, your text is ready for the next step!* It’s time to vectorize.

In Photoshop, create a selection box around the text you want to use, and copy / paste it into Illustrator. 

ILLUSTRATOR
Illustrator has a really, really great function called Image Trace. You can find it under ‘Window’ > ‘Image Trace.’ We’re going to use this to turn your black and white text into a vector.

Image Trace is where it's at.

Image Trace is where it's at.

  1. Click once on your image in Illustrator. With the ‘Image Trace’ window open, select ‘Black and White Logo’ from the Preset drop-down menu. The sliding bar will give you more or less detail (I typically set it somewhere around 130). 
  2. When your settings are good to go, hit the ‘Trace’ button in the lower right-hand corner of the ‘Image Trace’ window. And there you have it! Vectorized text. 

You can now scale your text to any size, turn it different colors, and copy / paste it back into Photoshop to pair it with an image!

Turn it green if you want to!

Turn it green if you want to!

By the way, I also use this method to create vector files of my black and white botanicals. They all start as a hand-painted piece of artwork, but by turning them into digital files I have a lot more flexibility with how I can use them (like putting them on stickers and phone cases). ;)

I hope this little tutorial will help you expand the possibilities of your artwork and calligraphy! Again, there are many, many ways to do this, so I encourage you to play around and explore different methods to find what suits your artwork best. :)

* Before bringing your text from Photoshop into Illustrator, you may need to clean it up a little bit with the paintbrush and/or eraser tool. You want the outline of your text to be as smooth as possible before vectorizing it.

 
Leana FischerComment