Digitalize Your Brush Lettering Using Free Programs by Jo Cheung
Digitalising your lettering has many benefits. It allows you to resize it as large as you want without losing its quality, as well as give you the option to correct jagged lines and smooth out a curve. Often times, tutorials that show you how to digitalise your lettering or turn them into ‘vectors’ (scalable images) tell you to use expensive programs. With this tutorial, I’ll show you how to easily turn your lettering into a scalable vector graphic (.svg) using 2 free programs.
All you need is a scanner or camera to capture your lettering then transfer it to your computer.
The two programs I use are Paint.NET and Inkscape.
Paint.NET is a photo editing program comparable to the Paint, but offers many upgraded features like Photoshop. You can pick and choose what type of plugins packs (added features) you want, which are created by the Paint.NET community. In this tutorial, we won’t be needing any of the extra plugins.
Inkscape is an open source vector graphics program that allows you to easily create vectors graphics. I’ve found this to the simplest way to create vectors from my own lettering.
This tutorial is a not a short one, but it is quite easy to follow. It’s jammed packed full of information, so do read it carefully. I’ve included both written and visual instructions for you to follow. Zoom in on the images to see all the details.
Let’s get started!
1/ Open your scanned or photographed image. I prefer a scanner as it gives me a whiter background and truer to life colours.
2/ Use the rectangle select to choose the part of your image you want to vectorise.
3/ Click CTRL+SHIFT+X to crop the image to your selected area.
4/ Go to Adjustments -> Levels or click CTRL+L.
If your image scanned out with a grey background, slide the top left arrow slight down to get your whites whiter.
Slide the middle right arrow down to makes blacks darker. Play around with the adjustments until your background is as close to white as possible, and your lettering is nice and dark.
5/ Select OK.
6/ Click Layers -> Rotate/Zoom or click CTRL+SHIFT+Z to rotate your lettering so it is straight.
7/ Fill in all the transparent (checkerboard) areas with white by holding SHIFT while filling in one of the areas with a paint bucket.
8/ Click CTRL+SHIFT+S to save your image.
1/ Open your saved image and select embed, then click OK.
2/ Click on the image twice so that the vertical side arrows show up instead of the horizontal.
3/ Click on Path -> Trace Bitmap
4/ In the pop up, check Brightness cutoff, remove background then click Update, When the preview shows a blank white page, click OK. (If the preview doesn’t show white, up the threshold value next to Brightness cutoff until updating the preview shows white)
5/ Click on your image, drag it to the side and delete the original lettering layer in the background
6/ Drag your image back into the rectangle.
7/ On the first ‘p’, I want to smooth out the bottom curve. Zoom in by holding CTRL and scrolling up.
8/ Triple click on your image. This gives you dots that you can drag and move around to change the shape of your letters.
9/ I selected one of the dots and clicked onto ‘make selected nodes auto-smooth’
Dragging this smoothed out point rounds out the bottom of the ‘p’. I also selected ‘auto-smooth’ for a few other points on the ‘p’ and dragged them around untl I was happy with the shape of the final ‘p’.
10/ Continue editing your letters until you are satisfied. Save your image as an inkscape SVG file
11/ To save your lettering as an image file click File ->Export Bitmap.
Make sure it is a PNG file, so the transparent background is preserved. A JPG or JPEG file won’t.
TIP: Resize your image in Inkscape and export it as a .png file to preserve the transparent background. Leave the original .svg untouched so you can easily resize your lettering within Inkscape and resave it as another .png file.
And that’s all folks. I know this one was very long and may have seemed complicated, but with practice, you too can easily digitalise your lettering! -Jo
This is part 3 of the brush lettering series here on SS.
Find part 1 and part 2 here:
Brush Lettering series part 1– tools you need to get started
Brush Lettering series part 2– tips and tricks of brush lettering
A big thanks to Jo of Zuer Designs who has shared some great advice and tips on brush lettering!
Jo is a bunny loving creative spirit from New Zealand. She’s obsessed with brush lettering and all things handwritten. Find her on Instagram, Etsy and Pinterest : @zuerdesigns.