How to Digitize Hand Lettering – Sketch to Vector Tutorial

Hey, it’s Sean McCabe with Learn Lettering
and I was just about to digitize this hand lettering design and I thought, “You know what?
I might as well be recording so I can show you guys my process.” I was just about to
digitize this, get it ready to send off to the printer (because we’re going to get some
letterpress coasters made), and I just want to show you how I go about doing that. So first of all, this is just a photo that
I took with my iPhone. You don’t even have to have a scanner. Just take a photo of your
lettering. I did this with Micron and it syncs right over iCloud so you’ve got your photo,
just open it up in Photoshop. Really easy. Unlock the background layer—it’s going to
be locked at first. Just double-click it and hit OK. Since this isn’t scanned, it may not
be perfectly straight. It may be kind of skewed. So the first thing you want to do is set a
couple guides and make sure it’s aligned before we go in Illustrator. Because we’re going
to use Illustrator to Live Trace this design. Real quick here: if you haven’t seen it before,
this is I’ve got a bunch of courses and you can get over eight hours
of courses here. There’s 50 lessons. I mean, a ton of good stuff. I going to depth on the
digitizing process—not just Live Trace like we’re going to look at today, but using the
Pen Tool to create precise vectors. So there’s a lot of great stuff here.
Be sure to check that out. But today we’re going to be talking about using Live Trace
to digitize hand lettering. The reason I like Live Trace—or actually, I think they call
it Image Trace now that it’s a newer version of Illustrator. I’m so used calling it Live
Trace. We’re going to go into Image Trace for this hand lettering design. The reason
I like it is it preserves that the organic character of the hand-drawn letters. When
you use precise vectors, it doesn’t really have that same feel. Sometimes you might want
to do that for a custom type logo but for something that’s going to be printed (screenprinted
or letterpress), I really like that organic feel. So I’m going to show you how to use
Image Trace to digitize your hand lettering designs. If you don’t have your rulers open,
you can press Command or Control + R on your keyboard. I’m going to say “Command” a lot
throughout this video because I’m on a Mac, so you can just interchange that for the word
“Control” if you’re on a PC. So bring up your rulers… we’re going to
drag it down. Just click on the ruler and drag down. We’re going to set a horizontal
ruler here. You can see that it’s a little bit slanted. This photo isn’t exactly perfectly
straight. So what we’re going to do is bring it down a little bit. Command + T: we’re going
to transform this. Now we could rotate it we could just come up to the corner here and
tilt it a little bit, but look what happens: if I bring over a vertical rule now that “T”
is starting to get out of line. So we don’t actually want to rotate it. I’m going to Undo.
What we want to do is we actually want to skew this. So Command + T first, then right
click on the image and select “Skew.” If you grab this little handle on the right, you
can drag it down and that’s just going to skew the right hand side. You could also grab
the top corner and drag that down if you kind of want to pinch it. We’re just looking at that horizontal rule.
We want it to be nice and aligned there. Starting to get wonky. You want to make sure to hold
Shift and it’ll keep it nice and straight up and down. That looks pretty good. Just
hit Enter to apply that. Now at this stage, if you’ve got some imperfections or some little
details that you want to correct, you can make a new layer: Command + N. Grab your brush
tool, and what I’ll do often is I’ll come in with just a white color and maybe clean
up some spots that I might be afraid will get turned in… oops. I’ve got to put my
Opacity at full. I’m going to take some of the hardness up. Anything that I’m afraid
of coming in as black within Illustrator I’ll just come in and clean up. I’m just giving
an example here—not too worried about this point. But if you have any imperfections are
things that you definitely don’t want to come in later, it might be easier to clean that
up a little bit in Photoshop. It’s up to you. So I don’t do too much in Photoshop here really
we’re just trying to straighten it. I find that a lot easier here than in Illustrator.
Maybe clean up a few details, but some of that we can fix in the vector stage so I’m
not going to worry too much. Maybe right here—clean this up a little
bit. You can click once and hold Shift—that will draw straight line between those two
points so that can be kind of handy. I’m gonna make sure this gets rounded off. Okay, now
for those of you that are looking at this and saying, “Well Sean, how do I get such
a cool lettering piece to start with?” That’s going to take practice, but believe it or
not, you don’t have to have to have this epic composition right off the bat. I’ll show you
just a quick behind-the-scenes of how I came up with this: I really just start with some
very, very rough compositions. You can see these are not fancy at all. I’m just using
a brush pen and really roughly kind of trying out some different ideas and combinations.
You’ll notice that I’ve got this extended “L” here, kind of making like an underline
almost, and trying like an overline here with the crossbar on the “t”s. That didn’t
exactly end up making it but you can kind of see some of that in the final composition
here. The “L” and the top of the “T” kind of make this nice, little straight line that
underlines the word “letterpress.” But I just start with these rough compositions, and kind
of get a feel for how you want things to look. You can see I’m trying out a lowercase “l”,
some capital script “L”s, and then ultimately something like this one here ended up making it all
the way into the final composition. So what I’ll do is I’ll start with some rough
concepts, use a brush pen, and then I’ll start sketching in the composition. You can’t really
tell here—I’m going to zoom in a little bit—because this looks really nice, right?
But you wouldn’t really notice that that’s not how I totally started. I started with
a lighter lead, very, very rough here. Just very roughly sketching in where I want the
letterforms to go, and then I come back with a darker led. So I start with an HB lead and
then come back with the 2B led and go over that just to get the details. You can see
I’m just kind of sketching in here. Start really, really light and then come back over it with
something darker. So I just started with the word “letterpress”—that’s all I had. Then
I started very lightly… here. Here’s a good example: you can see this is the lighter lead.
This is HB led. This is 2B led. So I start off just with some HB going in and making
just the rough skeletons of the letters. We’re not even trying to get the final version,
I’m just trying to fit the words in here. Okay, I want there to be a space so you can
tell these are two different words. So I’ve got about this much room to fit four letters
so you might split that evenly a few times. Then just come in here and rough out the letters—make
sure it fits to the composition and this is starting to come together. So after this, I go in on those skeletons
and I start creating the letterforms around those skeletons. I know where the letters
are going to be—you can see this skeleton right here and the crossbar of the “A”—I
just start forming the letters around those. After I do the sketch, I go and outline it
(it looks so much cooler in the sketch version, doesn’t it?) I outline that with a Micron.
I think I was using an 03 Micron here. Notice I’m not worrying too much about the little
details. I’m going to come back and fill this in in the next step. So I start with something
relatively fine—this is about a four-inch composition. So I can use something like an
03 Micron—you may want to use an 01. It depends on how big or small your composition. But
first I just outline it and then I come back with a Graphic 1. This is our original photo.
I just use a Graphic 1 to come in and fill the insides the composition. So once you’ve got this… remember we set
the rules… these guidelines here… try and keep it nice and straight (skew it if
you need to)… once you’ve got that, grab your Marquee tool (that’s M on the keyboard),
and we’re just going to select this and we’re going to Copy Merged because we do want to
include these corrective white brushstrokes that we did. Command + Shift + C will Copy
Merged. Now we’re going to go over to Illustrator. So I’ve got something set up already, this
is about 2000 pixels square. We’re going to mess with this some more later so don’t worry
about that too much. I’ve got it on my clipboard so Command + V to paste and I’m going to hit
F to change the view—get rid of that top bar So this is a little bit nicer. If you don’t
want to see the Art Board, Command + Shift + H will hide that. Sometimes it’s nice, sometimes
it’s not. Okay, so what we know is we want this to be a 4-inch coaster. Right now I’m
not to worry about the exact dimensions. Right now we’re just going to worry about digitizing
this and then fitting it to the composition size that we want. So first of all, we’re
going to select this—make sure you have the image selected. You might be tempted to
come up and just hit Image Trace. The problem with that is this doesn’t give you any control
over the settings of Image Trace. If I click this, it’s just going to do its own thing
and it’s going to go with some default settings. Now that doesn’t look bad but it doesn’t look
great and we want great. So I’m going to undo that change. What you want to do is come up
to Window and then select Image Trace. This is going to bring up your Image Trace
panel over here. This gives you a lot more control and you might have this Advanced section
closed by default—you want to click the little triangle and expand that. Once you’ve
expanded that, let’s go ahead and go through each of these options. You should be in Black
and White mode. If not, set it to Black and White. The Threshold is just going to decide
which pixels are going to end up being white and which pixels are going to end up being
dark. So if you had the Threshold at a certain point where it was picking up grays, you would
see a lot of these pencil marks. So if you have a high enough contrast photo—which
I would suggest using Micron on white paper if you want this to work really well. You
can do pencil sketches and it’ll come up with a different style—maybe you like that, maybe
you don’t—but if you want the best trace you want to have a lot of contrast. So that’s
why I like Microns: it’s just nice, crisp, black and white. For that reason, I like a
Threshold of 128 because the top is 255 so 128’s right in the middle. I’ll show you what
happens if we come up here: it’s going to start picking up… oops… turn on Preview.
Check the little box here. It’s going to start picking up some of the gray details and this
looks really ugly. If we come too low then it’s going to start
to get weakened. It’s going to start not pick up everything. If it’s not pure black, then
it’s going to show up white if the threshold is too low. So I like to keep this at 128
right in the middle, which you should be fine with if you’ve got white paper and black ink
like a Micron. Now within Advanced, this is the important part. The first one here is
Paths. This is just a threshold you can slide it from low to high. That’s just the Path
Fitting. So the higher you have this number, the tighter it’s going to be to your letters.
It’s going to follow the tiny little details. So if we go all the way up to 100%, it’s going
to be very true to the details in your composition. Obviously the higher the resolution, the more
detail it’s going to have. I would say for general hand lettering, a photo with your
iPhone is going to be fine. If you really want a lot more detail, you could use a scanner
to get a higher resolution image, but honestly I don’t even use it for any of my my prints
or products. I just use an iPhone photo. So 100% is going to be really, really detailed.
If I come in closer you’ll see… a lot of little details. I actually like to come back
a little bit from that. If I came down to 80%, you can kind of see what this looks like.
It definitely smooths this out. That’s actually a pretty nice look. A little bit of roughness,
but it’s still quite smooth. Honestly, I like the roughness because I think it feels a little
more organic. It feels a little more handmade. So I like to get pretty close to 100% but
not quite all the way there. Maybe 96%… 98%… see how that looks. 96%, you’re starting
to get a little bit of that detail. I’m going to go as high as 98%. Yeah, I definitely like
that. We’re going to make sure that… well, okay.
Let’s go to Corners next. We’ve got Corners and Noise just before we expand this. I usually
don’t mess with these too much but I want to show you what they do so you have an idea.
Let’s find a good example. Notice these sharp points here: those are examples of where your
corners are. So if we have Corners up all the way up to 100%, you’re going to see it’s
going to get a lot sharper here. That was subtle. I’m going to see if I can come in
and show you. Right here: watch just these few points. I’m going to come back down…
see how it got rounded off? Then I’ll go all the way back up. Sharp points. I don’t really
like those sharp points. I like to kind of keep it a little soft—a little rounded.
You don’t want it to look super jagged. Maybe somewhere around 65%? Because if you go too
low then it’s going to look floppy. So we’re going to go with 65%. I think that
looks decent. Noise—this last little parameter. This is… Let’s say you’ve got a got a bunch of speckles
on your design that you didn’t clean up in Photoshop. Maybe you erased some of the pencil
lines and there’s little pieces of the eraser and you’ve got little specks. This Noise threshold
will actually clean up some of those for you. So if you didn’t clean them up in Photoshop
yourself you can play with this threshold bar and it might get some of the those little
isolated details for you. So if you had a little speck here and the area of that speck
was something like 10 pixels, then you want to set this to 10 pixels or higher and it’s
going to remove it for you. If you have overlapping paths, then you can
switch these. You can either have it combined as one shape or create overlapping stacked
paths. It’s kind of hard—I don’t have a good example here with this one but if you
have overlapping paths you might want to try out both of those see to which one you need.
We’re going to create fills—we don’t want to create strokes. Ignore White: this is important.
If we don’t check this box then we’re going to get all of these white shapes. So it’s
not just going to be these letterform shapes but even these inside counter white shapes
are going to be individual shapes. Maybe you want that, maybe you don’t. In most cases,
I’d say you don’t. Otherwise, you’re going to have to come in here and click all of them
and get rid of them. Typically you want to Ignore White, so we’re going to go ahead and
set that. You’ll notice that I can’t actually apply this Trace until I turn off the Preview.
So we’re going to turn off the Preview, hit Trace, and it seems like nothing happened! What’s going on here? It’s just one big image.
Well, you actually want to Expand this. You can go up to Object>Expand. For me, it’s
Commad + E. That will bring up our Expand and just hit Enter. Now we have the individual
shapes. That’s what we want. Now what we don’t want is for this to move all about as one.
We want to be able to control the individual letterforms so we need Ungroup this. Go up
to Object>Ungroup (or Command + Shift +G) Sometimes you need to do that a couple
times. Usually I’ll just hit it twice. Command + Shift + G—hit it a couple times just to
make sure it fully ungroups. And then… see what I mean? I guess I didn’t do enough it
enough. Do it a few times. There we go. Then you can control the individual letters. So at this point, we’re going to go ahead
and design our coaster. This is going to be a circle coaster. So what we want to do is
grab our Ellipse Tool with L on your keyboard. I’m just going to click… let’s do this first:
let’s select this, and we’re going to bring up Transform just to see how large this is.
Ok, 1915px. We’re going to make a circle that’s the same size (1915px) as our lettering composition.
There’s our circle. Bring up your Align window. If you don’t have it, go up to Window>Align.
We’re going to align it on the horizontal axis and the vertical axis. Now Shift + X
will invert these colors. It’ll switch the fill to a stroke which is what we want. Otherwise,
you could get rid of the fill and add the stroke, but I like to use Shift + X. Then
I’m just going to grab my Move tool (V), Right Click on this and say “make Guides.” So now
we have a circular guide. You can create guides from any path—any shape, rather, that you
create. Now I’m just going to grab all this and we’re just going to nudge this over until
it fits pretty well within our circle guide. It’s not going to be perfect because it was
hand-drawn, so it wasn’t exactly perfect when I drew it, but we’re going to fix that. So that looks pretty good. It’s fitting pretty
well in most places but where it’s not, we’re just going to come in and adjust that. So
first of all, typically you don’t want to stretch letters because that’s going to make
it look really bad, but when it’s hand-drawn, it’s a little bit rough and if you’re just
doing it a tiny bit, you can get away with it. That doesn’t look bad at all. You can’t
even really tell. You could stretch it a little bit… that goes too far. At this point, I
would grab our Direct Select tool which you come over here and get from your Tools but
the keyboard shortcut is A. We’re just going to draw a box around this and it’s only grabbing
these points. So if we use our arrow keys, or we click and drag, we can bring those down
within the circle composition. Now over here, rather than stretching this
E, we’re just going to do that same thing. A for our Direct Select tool, drag a selection…
let’s go… we’re looking for a point here just where it’s mostly straight where we’re
not going to have up a bunch of little anchor points bunched up. So select all of these—and
I’m just going to use the arrow key to nudge that up until it fits pretty well with the
circle. Now it doesn’t have to be perfect because we’re going to give this a little
bit of a buffer from the actual edge of the coaster, but you want to get it pretty close.
Now I’m noticing down here that the bottom part of this E is pretty thick, especially
when you compare it to the K over here. So I’m just going to grab the Direct Select tool
and we’re just going to select these points specifically and nudge them down a little
bit. You can come in and get really detailed here—you see that slanting over. I’m going
to grab these points… you can even really go as detailed as you want. I like to keep
it pretty rough just so it feels natural. I’m going to hold shift to constrain proportions.
As long as I keep it relatively small, these stretching or expanding transforms, then it
won’t make it too thick and make it look abnormal. So this “T”… notice that it’s not really
going along with the circle right there. Rather than grab our Direct Select tool, which is
only going to allow us to make a box—which we don’t want to grab these down here so that’s
kind of difficult—if you hit Q it gives you this Lasso tool. You can grab these specific
points right here and just drag those up a little bit. Not too bad. Same thing over here:
let’s do that for this “A”. I’m going to grab the Lasso tool. Come down until it’s fitting
pretty well. This part’s fitting pretty well, I just want to grab the parts that aren’t. That looks pretty decent. Okay, so… Another thing I like to do is some of the bumps that
may be a little bit unsightly or some artifacts from maybe pixelation in the Image Trace:
I’ll grab my… what is it called? Delete Anchor Point, yeah. So the – key… I know
all the keyboard shortcuts [laughing] I don’t know the exact names. The minus key on your keyboard will
grab that. Then you can just hover over any point and click it and it’ll get rid of it.
That can come of smooth out some of these bumps. What you don’t want to do is if you
have your Direct Select tool selected and you pick one of these points and you delete
it, now you just broke the path! These two points are not actually connected anymore
and that’s bad. That’s going to create some problems later on so I’m going to Undo that. What you want to do here is grab your Delete
Anchor Point tool (-) and just click that. That’s going to be a lot better. So you you
can get as detailed as you want here. Maybe introduce some natural roughness just
to cover that up. So I’ll just come through here and… You know, you don’t want to get
rid of all the character, but maybe some things when you’re zoomed in close or you’re zoomed
out far are a little bit distracting… like right here: it looks like this isn’t properly
connecting to the “p”, so I’m just going to get rid of those so it doesn’t have a little
bump. Then Shift + C is the Anchor Point Conversion tool. It converts a corner anchor point into
something with Bezier handles. So in this case, I drag out (which gives me handles)
and then if I press… I’m still holding it, I’ve got my mouse clicked down… if I press
and hold Space, it allows me to move this anchor point. So I’m just going to move it
right here and just adjust this a little bit to make that look nice and natural. I’m going
to bring this… now I’m starting to nit pick here… This is what happens. Let’s go with that. That looks pretty good.
Okay. Now I’m going to go to my Rulers (Command + R just like in Photoshop), and
drag down a guide here just to the top of this “T”. Now notice this “C” doesn’t quite come up
to that point, so we’re going to fix that. Let’s bring it up a little bit. This nice
thing is it also fixed this issue where it was coming outside of the circle a little
bit. The “A”… this could come down. We can cheat that by stretching it just a little
bit. That’s a bit much on this part, so we’ll get our Lasso tool and just sneak it up a
little bit. If you get bunched up anchor points by doing that just, again, grab your Delete
Anchor Point tool and clean it up. This is starting to look pretty good. At this
point, if you’re happy with your composition and your lettering—it’s cleaned up, its
straight, you have all the details in place—at this point, I would select all of this and
we’re going to go ahead and copy it. Let’s make a new document. Command + N and we’re
going to change the units to inches. This is the document that we’re going to send to
the printer. We’re going to say, this is 4″ x 4″—that’s the coaster we want to do. If
your artwork has any bleed, you could set this to 0.125. That’s the typical bleed. Make
sure it’s CMYK—or actually, we’re going to use Pantone so it probably doesn’t matter.
Definitely 300ppi. It’s all vector, but if you had anything raster, definitely 300ppi. So here we go. This is 4 inches. Now to get
our guide, we’re going to grab our Ellipse tool, create a circle that is 4″ x 4″, and
with our Align window, put that in the center. Just right-click on this and select Make Guides.
So this is 4 inches. Now if we paste—remember we have our lettering on the clipboard—if
we paste that, it’s going to be huge. This was based on pixels before. Once we have all
of this, it’s all pasted in here and selected, we’re going to use the Transform to make this
the right size. So if we make this, let’s say 4 inches—I’m just going to type 4…
notice that we have inches as the units… make sure that the constrained proportions
link icon is checked otherwise it’ll make it 26 inches high and 4 wide. We don’t want
to distort it. So make sure that’s checked. Hit Enter. That looks really nice. However,
we don’t want our artwork to go to the very edge of the coaster—unless you do. If you
have something with full bleed, like we have here—like I showed you—that’s fine. In
my case, I want a little bit of a buffer, some padding around there. So I’m actually
going to do… let’s do 3.65 inches just to give it a little bit of extra room. I kind
of like how that looks. If you want to get a better idea… let’s do this: we’ll make
another 4-inch circle, put that in the center, Eyedropper tool—make that white.
Grab our Move tool, select this, Command + X will cut it, Command + A to select everything,
now Command + B to paste that white circle behind (which you can’t see yet, but bear
with). M tool grabs the Rectangle. We’re just going
to make a square. Go to our colors, make this a dark gray. We’re going to cut that (Command
+ X), then Command + A to select everything and Command + B to paste behind. I’m going
to go ahead and lock that down within our layers so we don’t move it. Now you have a
good example of what this is starting to look like. What actually I want to do here is copy
this, paste in front with Command + F, and then transform that to the size of our composition:
3.65”. Right Click>Make Guides. So now we can see that this isn’t quite where we want
it to be. Here’s an example of how to select everything that’s the same color. I want to
select all of this but if I grab all of it with a selection like this, it’s going to
move all of our circles. You don’t want to do that, so if you’ve got one item selected—one
object selected—you can come up to Select>Same>Fill Color. Now we’ve got everything that’s
black all selected and if you want to, you can come over to your Pathfinder and unite
all of that. If you want to. That way, you can move it around all at once.
Looking at the top here: just a little bit out of bounds… I think that looks pretty
good. Maybe nudge it back up again. Let’s grab this circle. I’m going to lock that down
so we don’t move that. There we go. That’s what we want. Now at this point if you wanted
your artwork to be different colors (or different parts of it to be different colors), you could
Ungroup it (Command + Shift + G) that’s going to allow you to select individual things.
Now here’s what I would do: I would just grab my Move tool, select an entire word—all
the pieces of this word—and then Unite it in the Pathfinder window. The same for this
other stuff. I’m holding shift as I select. Make sure to get all of the pieces that you
want and Unite that. Now we have two individual shapes that we
can move around and change the colors of. So you could come into your swatches and just
set some simple colors here, but this is still not exactly what you’re going to see when
something gets printed. Because the the colors on your monitor are very different from the
colors that the printer uses and in order to tell the printer exactly what you want
to use, I recommend using Pantone. If you don’t have a Pantone swatch book, definitely
get it if you’re interested in doing a lot more printing because you can refer to a specific
Pantone swatch and tell your printer the exact color that you want. There’s no room left
for interpretation. It’s not, “Hey what do you think this looks like on the computer?
What’s the closest Pantone?” There’s no guesswork. You have your book, they have their book,
and it’s going to come out exactly like you want it to. If you don’t have a Pantone book,
what you can do is select this… actually, let’s select both. Come up to Edit>Edit
Colors and we’re going to re-color with a preset. We’re going to do a 2 color job because
it’s two colors. But you could use re-color artwork if it’s more. Now the library we’re going to choose here
from this drop-down is Pantone Solid Uncoated. That’s personally what I like to use. Maybe
your printer suggests that you use coated—that’s going to make it a little more shiny. I like
uncoated. So we’re just going to hit OK and that’s going to do its best job of guessing
the closest Pantone to what you have. Notice it changed a little bit here but even what
you see on the screen here isn’t going to be exactly like what comes out. But I just
want to point out that if you double-click right here, now look at this: we get all of
these Pantone options. Tons of them! Now for me personally, I was actually looking at my
book before I started here. I kind of like 292 U for the lighter part and 293 U for the
darker part. It still looks kind of weird on the computer but in the book, in my actual
Pantone book, it looks kind of nice. So I don’t know. I would say if you really want
to be serious, get a Pantone book. You might be able to guess a little bit but just realize
that it’s not going to look exactly like this when you send it to the printer and they actually
print it. But the nice thing is if you do re-color the artwork and over here in our
Color panel you’ll notice that this says Pantone 294 U. Your printer’s going to see that. When
you send them this file they’re going to see that and they’re going to use that exact swatch.
They’re going to refer to that exact swatch and mix their colors according to their book.
So that’s something that’s really helpful when you send this off to a printer. No guesswork.
It’s definitely worth the investment. Those books aren’t cheap, but I would say definitely
go ahead and get it. So just a reminder… hopefully you found this interesting, I’ve got
a lot more videos here at There’s a lot of good stuff, so check it out: Tons of courses, I think you’re going to get a lot out of it. I hope
this video was helpful to you and be sure to subscribe!


  • Samuel Gray

    Awesome Sean! Had no clue about the Q selection tool. Great value in this video.

  • Manfred H

    Great tutorial. It would he really helpful to also see the printed finished product too. Thanks again for your great work.

  • BJ Zink

    Excellent demo! Keep 'em coming.

    Quick tip: Check out Object>Arrange>Send to Back. If you don't know it, it'll be a nice timesaver compared to cutting, selecting and pasting behind.

    Thanks for sharing your stuff!

  • Marcus Tiplea

    Thank you Sean!

  • Nicholas Aceves

    Fantastic Work! Very helpful 

  • Jenn Coyle Palandro

    Great tutorial sean! What program do you use to record these tutorials on your computer? I love how the key strokes show up.

  • eolandeanachronism1

    THANK YOU!!!!

  • Glowie

    You couldn't of uploaded this at a better time! I've recently been inspired by you to get into handlettering myself and wasn't sure where to begin with digitizing it but now I'm totally set to go! Thank you so much for taking the time to upload and make this and share your knowledge. I hope one day I'll be able to afford all your courses because you're an amazing teacher.

  • Bryan Grünauer Chagas

    There's definitely some gold nuggets there even for experienced users! I don't remember seeing the Hide Artboard, and the trick of converting an object to guides really blew my mind.

    Thanks for providing such value for free. Seeing all the process will help a lot when creating my own illustrations. 🙂

  • wabalacreatives

    Awesome Tutorial

  • Lorena Freire

    Thank you so much Sean.
    Great job! you're the best!

  • Passant El Mohdar

    So, this has just become my favorite tutorial on the internet (and trust me I've seen many).

    Thank you so much for this one!

    Peace & love from Cairo x

  • Printable Adornments

    Awesome video and great lettering!  Definitely subscribing. One free program that I really love using for digitizing hand lettering is Inkscape.  Scanning in your work (or using a picture like you did) and then tracing the bitmap with a simple click of a button makes it completely able to be edited in a digital environment.
    Anyone interested in some examples of my digitization process can take a look at my Etsy shop.  Almost everything in there was done with Inkscape!

  • Esther Vella

    These tutorials are beyond amazing! . Well done and thank youu for inspiring me and others into doing  lettering 😀 Thank you and keep it up!

  • pixie-gal

    I have watching some lettering video tutorial on youtube. Your is the BEST!!! thank you!

  • iseezombies82

    This.  Is.  Gold! 
    Thanks so much for this video Sean!
    Learned some new tricks along the way…which means I'll have to re-watch this a few times and take some notes 🙂

  • willibuff86

    Thanks for the video this is really helpful towards my Advance Typography class 🙂

  • Sydney Rose Kelly

    I looked this video up for a tutorial on how to digitize hand lettering, and I learned a BUNCH of new useful tricks about Illustrator too!!! WOW! Great video! Thank you for sharing!

  • Ravi Shirpali

    Im a PC user and i find difficult to understand Shortcuts here.

  • Max Makes

    Wow, this was a phenomenal tutorial! Thank you for all of the practical tips, techniques, and shortcuts!

  • Johnny G

    To unlock the layer, you can also just Alt-double click the layer to unlock it.

  • Johnny G

    Great tutorial! I learned lots of new tricks, like using the transform tool to change the size of my artwork, creating guides from paths, and the align to window action. Also, I noticed that the way you pasted objects behind was by cutting, then selecting all, and pasting behind, but perhaps it's easier to use the Send to Back button with the object selected, using shortcut Cmd+Shift+[

  • May Mustafa

    I can't thank you enough for this.


    Thank you. This is really GREAT TUTORIAL!!!!!!!

  • Antonela Silvestri

    Thank you Sean! =)

  • Zach Zurn

    You should check out Vector Magic.

  • Raymond Isbill

    If you have adobe CC give the Adobe capture app a try.

  • Sergio Padilla

    i'm not a graphic designer but I do this kind of work sometimes and you explained it really nice …. some parts where hard to catch on because of the keyboard shortcuts but is still pretty good… thanks a lot!

  • Elena Fedeli

    I'm so thankful to you for all the things that I'm learning only in this tutorial that at the minute 22 of the video I've had the urge to say it!

  • Janos Cherestes

    great, thank you for the tutorial you for sharing:) (i mad my own drawing but i used the adobe capture and worked well.

  • MakeDestroy

    Great video! I enjoyed seeing your process and feel like I've learned so much. If I may suggest two tips…. the shortcut to creating any shape into a guide is Command + 5, and if you use the pencil tool (shortcut "N") you can clean up paths by drawing over them, this way you are saving time by not having to manipulate point by point.

  • Haylie Charmz

    How do I save my digitized image as a photo? Sorry I am pretty new to Adobe illustrator..

  • Taylor Mina

    Very clear and easy to follow.
    Loved that brush to brush line shortcut!!

    Why would you digitize like this instead of just setting the contrast and levels of the artwork to eliminate the background (the paper) captured in the photo or scan, keeping the black and midtones only… Deciding the quantity and quality of detail and texture of the final image. and then adjusting edges manually? In other words what are the benefits of digitizing?

  • Mohamed Ghenania

    Thanks @Sean
    But now you have Fontself and it is even more simple !

  • Daniella Devita

    good video but i can never get it right because im using a normal ballpoint pen bcos i dont own any other type of pen so it comes out really bad ugh

  • Hannah Allain

    Thanks for this video! I loved it, it was super helpful!

  • Vertias 999

    awesome video! very informational. I feel like a lot of what you covered here are some of the most commonly taught vector techs which for those learning appreciate the repetition. keep it up. you sir have earned my sub.

  • Jonee Jibes

    I think it's great you showed us the behind the scene images. 🙂 It's very encouraging.

  • Jonee Jibes

    Are you using a pen and tab or a mouse?

  • janelane

    Thank you for this video!! I love how you showed the behind the scenes of creating your hand lettering. Assures me that I'm on the right track. Very encouraging and helpful.

  • Demi LastName

    lol, why aren't you just using your pen tool?

  • Ellies Little Adventure

    I am thinking about getting either Photoshop or Illustrator to digitize my hand lettering but I don't want to spend the money on both because it is quite expensive. Which one would you recommend for hand lettering if I was only to get one of them?

  • isanabria79

    That's so awesome. Wish i was that creative and talented.

  • frank Romero


  • Julia Dalenberg

    This was super helpful, thanks!

  • charlieannep

    Thank you for the level of detail you spoke of eg., unchecking Preview before able to then Expand and ungrouping.

  • Jeanne Painchaud

    Detailed yet compact video. Very helpful. Thanks a lot.

  • Laura Jacobs

    Great tutorial packed with useful info.  Thanks Sean!

  • Anna Hong

    One of the more detailed, and very well explained tutorials! Thanks for your help Sean!

  • JaminGammy

    Hi Sean I’m using a iPad Pro can I use apps on the iPad.. I’m having a hard time making images and uploading font on my Cricut Design Space. I hope you know what a Cricut is , it a Cutting Machine that you can make uploading and cut with your own designs or from clip art. Also your own handwriting. I’ve downloaded from Dafont. But I having a hard time unzip and uploading to Design Space. I would love to understand how. I have watched ever video on how to do this , but they never start at the very beginning step by step or what apps you need that will
    Need to have or the best one that I can get started with. This is why I purchased the iPad because the Design Space only works with iPad or iPhone for a mobile device. Thank you.


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