Digitize Your Hand Lettering | Erica Tighe | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (31m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Preparing Artwork in Photoshop

    • 3. Vectorizing Artwork in Illustrator

    • 4. Creating a post for Instagram

    • 5. Another Example

    • 6. Creating an 8x10 Print

    • 7. Final Project

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About This Class


I get so many inquiries of how I digitize my hand lettering from paper and ink so I decided to do a quick lesson to explain. This could be for your calligraphy, handwriting, brush lettering or even simple brush strokes. You will learn how to vectorize your lettering in Illustrator and then how to make a file ready for web (you could upload it to Instagram!) or for print so you could sell it in your shop. This is useful for logos as well. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Erica Tighe

Calligrapher / Hand Letterer / Maker at Be A Heart


Erica is the owner and artist behind Be A Heart, a design studio based out of Los Angeles. She was so moved by how beauty positively impacts the soul on her travels through Europe post-college. She then moved to Brazil and used an arts based curriculum in the schoolhouse she managed in a small village that took care of those outcast by society. Upon returning to the States, she sought a creative practice to integrate into her every day life.

This is where calligraphy entered her life and Be A Heart began. While it began as a hobby, she was soon enlisted to do custom work and wedding stationery. She moved to Los Angeles from Brooklyn and decided to do design work full time.

Now she has a bustling business that has been featured in ELLE magazine, named one of the best stati... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Welcome to the skill share class. How to digitize your hand lettering with me? Erica of Be a heart dot com. I get a lot of questions about how to digitized my work, how I get from something on a paper that I use my calligraphy pen or paintbrush and get it into the computer so that I can then reproduce my work cell. My work as Prince make Instagram posts. Make logo's. Put it on the Web, all sorts of things. Once you can get this to be vector rised. By the end of this class, you will know how to make this photograph that I took of my work into something that looks really beautiful and polished that could be shown to the rest of the world. So to show some examples, you can see here that I had something written on a piece of paper, and this was eventually made into a print that I sold in my shop here. I wanted to do a quick instagram post, and so I scratched it. You can tell it's on a scrap piece of paper and was made into this, which I could show people here I was writing out different calligraphy for a wedding invitation. You can see I even have lines on this, and it eventually became this beautiful invite. And lastly, this was for another invitation. That was brush lettering, and it was made into this. So there's a lot of possibilities of things that you can do once you learn the basics. 2. Preparing Artwork in Photoshop: to begin. Have your artwork ready. Often times I will just take a photograph of something that I've written on a piece of paper. You can also scan it in at 600 d. P. I and then it will be a pdf. But it doesn't matter. I find that my iPhone does just as good of a job. You take your artwork. I have one here and you drag and you drop it into photo shop. Once you have it in photo shop, you're going to be able to manipulate this so that we can isolate just the parts that we want to be seen. An illustrator to vector rise, little volume thing. Click it and then you're going to click the bottom eyedropper here that has white in it. This is going to tell voter shop that this part of your image should be white. So my paper was actually white. The photograph was not that great. So when I click on the background, it turns everything white. Now, if you need to tell it apart that is black. You can pick this top eye dropper that has the black on the bottom and you can click anywhere in your photo. That should be black. This will really help in the small minute lines of calligraphy so that it actually picks it up. And then when you're done with that, you're going to hit command E so that your levels layer over here on the right and your background become one. Now we want the background to become an actual layer so that we can edit it. So you're going to hit control. Click. If you have a Mac and choose layer from background, you can name it something if you want, or you can just I usually just leave it at layer zero Click OK, from here you're going to click your magic wand, and at the top here you can see I have 50. I found that 50 tolerance is a pretty average number. Sometimes if it's not picking up all the really tiny details, I can then make it go down to 30. I usually don't go above 50 so you can play with that. Then make sure the contiguous boxes unchecked and that the sample, all layers, is checked this way. In between all of these little letters, it's going to race. So if I have this clicked. You'll notice when I click on the white spot between the and the being, the it's still showing that white. So to unclip Kit. Then you can click anywhere in your white area that you want to delete and then just choose the delete here so that we can de select what is selected. You do command D and that will in select everything, then, to make sure that everything is really black. You don't want to have a grey and, um, different tones on your black scale. So to make it all black, you come down to the bottom here where it says FX, Hold it down and click. Cover and click color overlay, then double click on the color. A lot of times it comes up or red, and you can choose a black. You can tell that everything if you if you choose red shows a bread, but the black will really make every line stand out, which will be very important for later. Now is the time you can fix little things. There aren't too many issues with my calligraphy here, and I often like it toe look hand done, So I like all of the little heirs. But, for example, here on this A it should be a little bit thinner, So I choose E. Or you can go to your left hand side and pick the eraser tool using your bracket. The right hand bracket will make your eraser larger, and your left hand bracket will make it smaller. I'm gonna choose the pre Smalley racer here just so that I can get in here and erase this without doing too much damage that might be too thin. I'm hitting Control Z to back it up until I get it right, Alex. Good. So then when I'm in here really close, I can see right here there's a little air. So I'm going to raise that. And then here I see that there's a break in my line and illustrator may not pick that up, so I'm going to choose be for brush, or you can choose it over here on your left hand side, and I'm going to make my brush quite a bit smaller with my left bracket, said, I can really get in here and fix up all the little lines. I'm gonna go down my artwork and do do this all along the way, it's much better. Even though you can fix things in Illustrator, it's better to start doing it in photo shop. If you really don't want to have any jagged lines, you can go in with your racer and fix all of these little things. The thin lines on calligraphy are the most important to grab here. I'm gonna add Give me a little bit of a bigger just to round it up and this be I think I'm gonna wait to fix it. An illustrator and I will show you how to do. You can back up and see if this is what you want your final artwork toe look like, even though we can still manipulate it a bit more. An illustrator, which will be in the next video 3. Vectorizing Artwork in Illustrator: Now that you have your photo shops file ready, we can drag this into illustrator. We're going to open illustrator and hit command and for a new document. Or you can choose it up in the file menu file new in the new document. You want to make sure it's chosen for web, and I like to work with a 1500 by 1500 pixel box. That's kind of my go to, although you can adjust it depending on what you're doing. Hit. Okay. And you're going to get your new blank slate. Go back to photo shop. I'm going to make my window a little bit smaller. Said I can drag and drop over into my illustrator. So you click anywhere on the black part so that you have your artwork and you drag and drop into your illustrator. No, What we want to do is image trace your artwork. So up here you can click image trace. This is not always going to show up so well. So what you do is created preset for your hand lettering. You click on this box to the left the Image trace panel which will open up this larger box for this. I create my calligraphy preset to be 140 on the threshold. This one. You can move up and down, depending on if you need to capture more of a line. If you have it really low your threshold, you'll see it's not picking up the entirety of your lines. And if you go to high, it's going to get a little chunkier than you want. So I always started 1 40 then I can adjust it from there. The paths set to 95 97% which is going to pick up all the little jagged lines. If you don't want that and you want something a little smoother, you can go a lot lower. But I like to set it at 97 so that it really looks like it's something that's handgun your corners air at 75% and your noises at 25%. Something really important that will just make your life a lot easier is to click. Ignore white, so this is going to erase the background for you. Then, to set this as a preset go up here next to custom and choose, manage preset save as a new preset and you can save it as in lettering, calligraphy, lettering, anything that you will remember it. Okay. And now you have an image trace. Once you're content with how it looks, go to the top and hit. Expand and you have all the tiny little points of your artwork. You can close the image trace file from here. Now this is all groups, so it's going to move together. But I like to isolate it. So I choose shift command G. And I hit it about three times just to make sure that it's ungroomed. And then I select only the background and I hit Delete. That way I know how this is separate from the A from the heart. Everything is separated. No coming in here. I can change things even more. I don't like how jagged this line on the B is. It's not matching the rest of my letters. So I come in close and I choose with my selection tool, which is V You want to make sure you're on the darker selection tool and not the direct selection tool. The direct selection tool is going to mess you up when you are trying to change things, so make sure you're on TV and then come over here to your left and hold down the pencil line and make sure that you're on the smooth tool and not the pencil tool. When you click that, you can come into these little vector points and run your smooth to along them to really smooth things out. I'm gonna move all the way up here, but I really I do like to have it to be a little bit jagged just so that it looks hand done . If you're wondering up here why you can't change this line, it's because you're not selected on that part. So go back to be click it again, and then when you use your smooth tool, you come in here first and only that is selected so you can fix that once you feel really good about your lines and everything looks really good. Another thing that you can dio is choose the second, the direct selection tool using A. If you double click on any of your vector lines, you can move them so this could move out here if you wanted, but I just want to get that so that it's the same width as the rest of the letters, and my smooth tool was making a little bit more difficult. You could get really picky in here and spend a lot of time going into all of the letters. I also like to back up frequently just to make sure that it's still looking like a letter, because when you're close to it, you can't always see. Now the great thing about vector rising your artwork isn't now. Everything is individual. So if I don't want these to be so close together, I want the age to go with me. So I'm going to use Shift Select and I'm going to hit command G to group it. So now if I click on this part, the H goes with me. I can spread it out a little bit more or I can bring it in a little bit more and I can overlap, can really do so many different things. You can also change the color of them if I want to make sure that something is really centered. Aiken group these two together and choose the second line as well, and now they're perfectly centered, So this is perfectly fine to use for many different things you could drag it into in design . You can drag it back into photo shop, depending on what you want to do with it. In the next lesson, we're going to learn how to make a quick INSTAGRAM post. 4. Creating a post for Instagram: So for the next lesson, you're going to go back into photo shop, choose command and to create a new file. I also like this to be 1500 pixels by 1500 pixels. Choose resolution of 72 with an RGB because it's going on web not in print. And she was okay. Now have a blank slate. So I'm going back to illustrator and I'm going to come and see Copy my artwork, Go back to photo shop Command V. She was as a smart object and hit. OK, now it's in here. But you know what? I really do Not like this teal color that I chose so I can come in here and choose the FX again color overlay, and I can try it with a lot of different colors. I'm gonna choose white, but you know you can't see it, but then I'm gonna come back to my background click the little cookie looking thing. I always think it looks like I black and white cookie solid color, and it's going to let me change now the background of this, maybe I want and Coralie pink background, She's okay. And now I have a really beautiful thing that I can post in other places on Instagram or on Facebook to export it. I go file safer Web, going to choose, be a hard for Instagram, put it onto my desktop and hit Save. Now I'm gonna open this and I have a really beautiful image. 5. Another Example : for the next lesson. We're going to go back to that image that I showed you in the very beginning to show you how to digitize things and then manipulate the letters a little bit more. So I'm going to do it more quickly so that you can watch where my cursor is going, and I won't have to talk as much. So I'm going to crop this because I took the photo and I and there's a lot of things on the outside of it, so I can crop that out. And then this one has a lot of issues with the lighting cause when I took the picture, it wasn't so great. So I'm choosing the white then. I also really want the computer to know that this is Black Command. E is going to make those one Blair and I'm choosing control air background to make the background layers that I can then edit it with my wand tool. Everything looks like it's getting selected that I want and hit delete. No, I'm going to choose color overlay and make it really black. This one I purposefully made a lot of heirs so that I could go in and fix it and show you how something like this can be fixed up. So I'm using my race or tool. All of these little pieces of my brush lettering can be fixed. This is the beauty of Photoshopped. So here you can see there's quite a few issues that happen. Should be OK because I can fix it. Okay, now it's ready to be placed into my illustrator file. If I don't want to open a new file here, what I can do is go to the left and shoes are poor tool backups. You can see and I'll just create another art board. That's about 1500 by 1500. Then I go back to photo shop and do the same thing. Dragon drop. I'm gonna make this one a little smaller so I can fit on my art board and see all that I'm doing now because we already created the hand lettering preset. You can hit the arrow next to image trace and dragged down to hand lettering. If you want to change something from there, you can choose the little image trace panel again, and you can lower your threshold if you want change your path, but for me, this looks pretty good. So then I'm going to expand my lettering, closed my image. Trace panel, one group my lettering and delete the background. Now I have my letters. Everything is separate. So I'm gonna group how to? Because I want those to stay together. And I want digitized to stay together. So I'm going to group those Don't get the little dots for your eyes. Your is already going to be grouped. And hey, and lettering. I want to be grouped together. Now If I want to make this centered, I choose all of them now have grouped four different lines and I can choose all four lines and I can choose up here the horizontal align center. Now, this is making them all so that they are centered. But I have some issues with my your I'm gonna move the rest of this down so that I can deal with it after the fact I'm gonna move my hand lettering down and now I'm thinking about it . Hand lettering is actually two words, which is perfect, because now I can make them two words without having any issues. So if you have any spelling errors. So I'm gonna group them separately, and I'm going to well, their alignment, using the corners, dragging and dropping and maybe move this down. Not completely satisfied with that. So this is the most amazing thing about illustrator and Photoshopped and digitizing your work is that you can then manipulate it in a variety of ways and change all of your letters . This time I'm not going to do any of my smoothing tool because I really like the brush lettering to have its errors. So it's perfectly fine. No, I don't like how this your is coming and creating so much space in between here. So what I can do with this is dragged my your off to the side. Choose the tea text tool type in your choose a font. Space it out. Why this letting you choose light? Maybe. And then that looks a little bit better. Maybe I'm going Teoh justice. No, I can adjust these because I don't have that your situation happening, Okay, I'm pretty satisfied with that part of the peace. And I think I am going to keep everything the same color for now. Then I have all these other small little pieces. They're so small that I something like this I wouldn't spend too much time on. So I'm going to group that group cell as Prince make Instagram pose and make a logo. Now, those are all grouped and Aiken center them much easier. Okay, I think we're all set with this an illustrator so that I can now make a pdf file that would be for print. 6. Creating an 8x10 Print: This next lesson is going to show you how to make a PdF for print. So I'm going Teoh, choose the part that I'm first going to copy over into Photoshopped. Come and see. And then I'm going Go to photo shop and open a new file for this. I want to change it two inches because I know that I like my prints to be eight inches by 10 inches. 72 Resolution is for Web 300 is for print and I'm going to make sure I have a steam wake. A color value so that I can print the colors hit. Okay, I now have my workspace. We've already copied the artwork, so I hit command of the too smart objects. It will come in now. This is much too large because we have the other letters to place on here. So I'm going to shrink it and hit Enter, then I'm going back to illustrator and I'm going to grab the remaining lettering. Go back to photo shop command be. And once again, this is two bags. I'm going to size it down it. Enter. No, I can manipulate first this color overlay. Maybe I'm going to choose orange and then for the secondary lettering, I can choose a different color. I'm going to choose white again and change my background by hitting solid color all these bright, bright colors here. Okay, Now I want to make sure that everything is centered. So I'm going to hit background, that I'm going to hold down command and click all of my layers. I'm going to center them that make sure that everything is centered along the background. I think that this is pretty good. Now I may want to make this into a PNG file for Web as well, so I can hit command new choose my 1500 pixels by 1500 pixels. 72 RGB. It can drag this file over. And now, instead of having to go back to illustrator, I can grab just these to command t back up, and I can now make it into a smaller size. And if I want to take my background, I can do that. And there we go 7. Final Project: onto the student project for your project hand letter something and along the way, upload the picture that you've taken of your original hand lettering and then show us what you get as your final result as something digitized either for Instagram or if you're making a print for your home that you want to print out, or a logo or anything that you make. Let us see what you have by using this Siris of instructions again, I'm Erica. Be a heart design. You can follow us on instagram and be a heart design and see all of our work at b a heart dot com. Follow us here in skill share to be updated of our future. Classes will be having a brush, lettering, class and more calligraphy class is to come.