Read the second installment for this tutorial HERE
Everytime I see digital versions of other people’s calligraphy or lettering work, I’m amazed at how clean everything is. I’m no professional calligrapher or letterer. Trust me. Read my post on how to fake calligraphy. But when I do scan my work, I often question if the poor quality of the digital version was because I suck at writing or if I had a faulty scanner. After doing some research on how different illustrators digitize their work, I came up with this simplified method using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Here’s how you can easily digitize your calligraphy or any other design work.
So, you start with a raw scan of your work. I use the term “work” loosely, because in my case here, this is more of chicken scratch doodles. I scanned these at 600dpi, but I think 300dpi would work just as well. If you’re working on simple black ink work, you can also choose to scan in B&W if your scanner has that capability.
In Photoshop, I cropped the image to just the part I wanted to digitize. The first step is to adjust the levels. Select Image > Adjustments > Layers. There are 3 dropper icons on the right part of the pop-up. Choose the rightmost one. Click on a part of the image that should be white. This will help balance out the colors of the image.
Next, adjust the black, grey and white triangles in the input level to come up with the most saturated image you can get. The edges of your work might start getting jagged and messy. Don’t worry, you’ll be able to clean things up later!
Using the Magic Wand Tool, start clicking on the pieces and parts you want to digitize. This handy dandy magic wand truly is magic! Once you’ve selected exactly what you want, copy.
Next, open Adobe Illustrator. In a new document, paste your selection from Photoshop.
Enlarge the image as needed, to make things more manageable.
Next, select the Black and White Logo option under Image Trace.
Watch as Illustrator cleans up the outlines before your very eyes! Click on the Expand button to be able to make further adjustments.
Illustrator will automatically generate nodes and anchors for your image. You can skip this step if you’re already happy with how everything turned out.
Select the Delete Anchor Point Tool to reduce any unwanted corners.
Zoom into your work, and remove any anchor points that give your work those harsh and jagged edges. You can also adjust how the curves look like. If you’re aiming for something overly perfect, this will be a tedious task that takes long to finish.
Once you’ve made all your fixes, select the image and copy.
Go back to Adobe Photoshop, and paste into a new document. Make sure to Paste As: Pixels.
Make sure to click the not-easy-to-find checkmark on the top right portion to make your image further editable in Photoshop.
Like you did earlier, using the Magic Wand Tool select the words, letters and shapes you will be using. Then, choose Select > Inverse. Then hit delete on your keyboard (only once!).
You’ll then be able to move around pieces as you see fit. Rotate, resize, warp and distort to your heart’s content!
This is far from professional work, but here’s what I came up with once I was done digitizing my work. What do you think? i hope this helped you guys!