how to digitize calligraphy

How to digitize calligraphy using Photoshop and Illustrator

I’m on a calligraphy binge.

It’s been only three days since I bought a straight holder, ink and nibs, and I can’t get enough of  writing my heart away and watching/reading tutorials online. I found this guide to modern calligraphy (with free worksheets!) and this video on common problems with nibs most helpful for a beginner like me.

After doing basic drills, I write a quote from a book (or from Google search or Pinterest ha!), a line from a song, or any random words and phrases.

Being a graphic designer, I can’t wait to incorporate the beautiful, intricate things created through calligraphy to my works. Ideas are overflowing. I digitized the image above and came up with this…



Easy steps to digitize calligraphy

1. Scan or take a photo of your work and open it in Photoshop

In Photoshop

2. Since my work is in colored paper, I converted it to black and white first. To do this, go to Image > Adjustments > Desaturate. Skip this step if your work is in black and white.

3. Tweak the photo to make the background white and the black parts darker. Go to Image > Adjustments > Levels. Select the white eye dropper and click on a part of the photo that should be white. Adjust the sliders in the Input Levels section until the photo is high contrast, the background is white and the black parts are really black.



4. Separate the elements that you want separated using the Eraser Tool.

5. Select the part of the photo that you want to copy to Illustrator using the Lasso Tool or the Marquee Tool. Copy the selection and paste in a new document in Illustrator.


In Illustrator

6. Open the Image Trace panel by selecting Window > Image Trace. Set the Preset to Black and White Logo. The photo will be transformed to a sharper version at this stage.

7. Click the arrow next to Advanced so you can fine tune the Image Trace settings to your liking then click Expand to create individual elements of your work.


8. Ungroup the objects so that you can move it around and select the individual elements.


9. Smooth the curves by removing some of the anchor points or using the Smooth Tool.



10. You can now apply colors, effects, etc. to your work.



I hope this post wast helpful.

Are you into calligraphy, too? I would love to see your vectorized hand written works.

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