Digitizing your handwriting aka turning your custom hand lettered design into a vector file is a lot easier than you think but you need a few tools. I’m self-taught with Adobe Illustrator so there may be an easier process (please share your tips in the comment section if you know of any) but I’ve found what works for my basic needs.
A vector file is a digital graphic that uses mathematical algorithms to preserve image quality. It allows the design to be manipulated and print large-scale without losing image quality or resolution (or appearing pixilated). Using this format allows me to print my hand lettered designs on batches of cards and mugs through professional vendors. It’s also useful for the at-home foiling technique you may have seen on my Facebook or Instagram, I’ll post a full tutorial on that soon.
HOW TO: Digitizing Your Handwriting
- White paper
- Adobe Illustrator – try a free 30-day trial here
Note: 99% of the time I don’t use a scanner, I just take a picture with my iPhone and email it to myself. This generally works fine but you need good lighting. Also I’m very picky about my pens, check out my favorites and where to buy them here.
- Write your design
- Scan or take a picture and save to your computer
- Open Adobe Illustrator
- File > Open… > Select your file
- Use the Selection Tool (V) to scale the image to the desired size (hold Shift while resizing to maintain original proportions)
- Image Trace > Black and White Logo > Expand
- Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to draw a box over the entire design and change the color of the rectangle to something besides black or white (you’ll eventually delete this so don’t fret over the color choice)
- Object > Arrange > Send to Back
- Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select and delete all of the white images from your design, leaving only the black hand lettered design
- Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select and delete the colored rectangle
- Use the Selection Tool (V) to scale and adjust the final image, as needed
- File > Save As… > Name your file and select the file type you need
- Share your newly digitized and totally awesome design with the world!
Note: below are screen grabs from the process using Adobe Illustrator. There area ton of YouTube videos, online forums and tutorials, and resources on Adobe’s website – but if you still get stuck, shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’d be happy to try to help.