Calligraphy, Faux Calligraphy, lettering, Uncategorized

Digitizing Your Hand-Lettering

What You Need:

  • smart phone OR scanner
  • adobe illustrator
  • ipad pro (optional)

The method of image capturing may vary, but once you have your image on your computer, all the steps after that are the same for each method.

Note: I use a Mac, so your screen will look different than mine. The tools should all be in the same places.

Step 1:

Hand-letter something! For my piece, I’m using the word “gather,” in honor of thanksgiving being around the corner.


If you hand-lettered your item on paper, scan/take a photo of your work in good lighting (or enough lighting to show the contrast between the white of your paper and the ink). Scanner Pro is an okay app, but I find the smartphone camera works just as well.

Step 2:

If you scan your photo, skip to step 3 because you can import it right into adobe illustrator.

If you used an ipad pro, use airdrop to send the image to your computer (if you use a mac).

If you photographed your piece on your phone, you’ll need to import it into photoshop before placing it in illustrator. Open the “levels” panel.


Click the black levels eyedropper and select the blackest black in your image.


Then use the white levels eyedropper and click around until your image is stark black on white.


Now save and you can start on step 3.

Step 3:

Open illustrator and create a new document. Here are the settings you will need for print:


And here are the settings you will need for web use:


Once you have your file created, you need to place your image onto your artboard:


Resize your image so that it fits inside the artboard. Make sure you hold shift while you resize or rotate your image so that it keeps its proportions and stays straight.

Next, find your image trace menu. It may be in your tools at the right OR you may need to find it in the Window drop down.


I like to use the “black and white logo” preset for this, because it tends to keep the lettering true to the original.


In the advanced options, make sure to check the “ignore white” option.


Click “expand” and ungroup your objects.



Now you can use the pencil tool to clean up any weird looking parts you might have. I use a Wacom tablet and stylus available at Best Buy for super cheap.

Once you’ve made all your changes, make sure to save it in illustrator. Then, go to the “export as” option in the file menu. I like to save my lettering files as both .jpg and .png, just in case I want to put it on a different color background than white.

use artboards.jpg

MAKE SURE to ALWAYS select “use artboards.” Here is what the settings should look like. Always export in 300ppi.


Now you can do whatever you want with your lettering! If you want to resize things, rotate things, color things, you can! This week’s challenge phrase is “Hello Beautiful.” Be sure to tag me on Instagram, Facebook, and check out my Etsy shop to find inspiration for your own hand-lettered pieces.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *