Turn Your Handwriting into Digital Vectors

Starting a calligraphy business was a crash course in Adobe Photoshop Illustrator tips and tricks without any formal training. One of the actions I need to take on an almost daily basis is turning my handwriting into a vector for use in logos, photo overlays, and blog posts. A ton of googling, stalking calligrapher Instagram accounts, and testing out different tools in Illustrator, I've finally come up with a pretty quick and dirty process for turning handwriting into digital vectors that can be overlayed on photos or used as logos. 

This process requires a few tools: Adobe Photoshop Illustrator (I rent my copy online for $19.99 a month) and a camera or a scanner.

Step 1: Write out your phrase in a black pen. For best results, lines should be thick, dark, and on a bright, white piece of paper.

Step 2: Take a photo. Using a DSLR returns better results, but if your text is very bold, your paper without texture or color, and the lighting is great, a cell phone photo will work as well! For the best results, scan in your image to your computer.

Step 3: Open your photo in Illustrator and select the image with the Selection Tool (V). In the "Object" menu choose "Image Trace" > "Make." For additional options on tracing the image, you can select the image (V) and choose the Image Trace menu on the top toolbar. A dropdown will reveal options for tracing. Choose "Shades of Gray" if your photo doesn't have strong, clear black lines.

Step 4: If you have a clear trace result, remove the background fill color from your image by choosing the "Select" menu > "Same" > "Fill Color" and use the Delete key to remove any white background. Once deleted, you will not see any change in the image, but saving it as a PNG will reveal a transparent background.

*If you didn't get a clear trace result, save the trace result, open the photo in another photo editing program and remove the background color and texture using a selection tool. 

Step 5: If you'd like to change the color or texture of your text, open a transparent PNG of your final trace result in either Photoshop or Illustrator. Add a layer to your image containing either a Fill Color or texture that you'd like to use for your text. Create a "Clipping Mask."

Vector Handwriting