Vectorize Your Artwork/Hand Lettering to Print and Sell

Vectorizing your artwork hand lettering to print and sell

Vectorize Your Artwork/Hand Lettering to Print and Sell

You did it! You drew something that looks amazing and now you would like to put your design on a product to either sell or enjoy. How do you get your design from your sketchbook onto products? You will need to know how to convert your art to a vector graphic. Here I will explain how to vectorize your artwork/hand lettering to print and sell.

Helpful Tools:

  • Tracing Paper
  • Fiber Castle/Mirco Pens
  • Scanner
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Adobe Photoshop

Scan or Photograph Your Image

If your design isn’t fleshed out, you will want to grab some tracing paper and a good fine point marker to clean up at details of your design. Be sure to erase any unwanted pencil marks.
I have an Officejet 6500 E709 printer and scanner. This isn’t a fancy artsy scanner, but a typical printer for any household.
I’ll open the open Printer and Scanners, you can search for it on your computer by clicking on the magnifying glass in the top right-hand corner of your desktop screen.
printer and scanner - Vectorizing Your Art Work / Hand Lettering
Once you have Printer and Scanners open (if you’re using a Mac), you should see a window where you can select the printer you want to use.
Once you have Printer and Scanners open (if you're using a Mac), you should see a window where you can select the printer you want to use.
You will want to select “Scan” next to print followed by “Open Scanner…” Place your artwork on your scanner.
Before you scan the image be sure to set the resolution to 600 dpi (dots per inch). 600 dpi is double the resolution for printing. You’ll want a high resolution so that the details of your art can be noticed when you zoom in.
You will want to select "Scan" next to print followed by "Open Scanner..." Place your artwork on your scanner. Before you scan the image be sure to set the resolution to 600 dpi (dots per inch). 600 dpi is double the resolution for printing. You'll want a high resolution so that the details of your art can be noticed when you zoom in.
You’ll need to select the area you wish to scan before scan button will allow you to click on it.
Convert to Black
Before we can vectorize your art in Adobe Illustrator, we will need to make the design “more black” by turning up the threshold in Photoshop. Why? Because when converting images to vectors, we will be using the Image Trace tool in Illustrator, which works best when there is a sharp contrast between your art and the background.

Open your art file in Photoshop

Open your art file in Photoshop.

Unlock the background layer by double-clicking it.Vectorizing Your Art Work / Hand LetteringThen go to Image>Adjustments> Threshold. Vectorizing Your Art Work / Hand Lettering

Adjust the Threshold Level to get a good balance between the most about of black and detail. Your art may look a bit pixely with rough edges. Don’t get overly concerned about it, because the image tracing tool will smooth out the pixiliness.  Save the file as a .jpg, and …

Open the .jpg in Illustrator

Vectorizing Your Art Work / Hand Lettering

You should see something like this, with your art inside of Illustrator. I always pull my art off to the side of the artboard so that I can see the white of the paper.

Vectorizing Your Art Work / Hand Lettering
Now you will need to open Image Trace. From the top toolbar find Window>Image Trace. This will open the Image Trace pallet.
Vectorizing Your Art Work / Hand Lettering

How to Use Image Trace

Next, you’ll need to be sure that your artwork is selected. In the Preset setting select “Sketched Art.” Your artwork will be rendered into a vector, but we’re not done yet. Often your art will look overly simplified, so we’ll need to adjust the Threshold as well as the Paths and Corners that are in the Advanced section.
Vectorizing Your Art Work / Hand Lettering
The Threshold effects a number of details that you see.
Paths effects the smoothness of the lines.
Corners effects the sharpness on the edges and interesting lines.
Play with the settings to get the best outcome for you. Generally, I set the paths low (~0-20%) and the corners high (~80-100%) and the threshold not too drastic (~128-200).
Vectorizing Your Art Work / Hand Lettering
Before your art can be officially vectorize you will need to uncheck Preview, then click Trace. But whoa now, because we’re not done there either. You will need to select Expand from the top menu. This will create anchor points around your art, making it a vector. Yay! 
Vectorizing Your Art Work / Hand Lettering
By default, your design will be Grouped.  Simply press Shift+Com+G to Ungroup.
Vectorizing Your Art Work / Hand Lettering
What can be really confusing is that everything that was white now has a border, you just can’t see it. You will have to delete this invisible shape. Using the Magic Wand tool, in the toolbar, select the black, this will select all the objects that are black. Press Com+3 to make all the black hidden. Now, press Com+A, to select all, then delete the selection. Press Com+Option+3 to make all that was hidden appear again.
Vectorizing Your Art Work / Hand Lettering
You can now select objects what you no longer want in the design, such as the spiral bound edge, the border, and those tiny specks that may have come from the scanner or paper.
Vectorizing Your Art Work / Hand Lettering
If you would like to clean up the edges, you can use the Smooth Tool. Select whatever you wish to smooth out, and trace over the edge. Sometimes the smooth tools does a great job, I found that the smooth tool works better if I’m not zoomed in too much.
It’s easy to go crazy with the smooth tool trying to make everything perfect. But before you spend the next several hours trying to make all your lines glossy smooth, remember that the beauty of hand lettering is that it has an imperfection quality about it. So, adjust it as much or as little as you desire.

Print & Sell

Once you are finished, you can print it out to enjoy, or sell the design on products because now you can now resize the design to whatever size you need for the medium you’d like to print it on.
I hope to make a blog post in the future on how you can start you’re own shop selling your designs soon.
I will explain a few different platforms that you can upload your designs too to sell your art. If you would be interested in this let me know, and I’ll try to make a video or blog post quicker.
I hope this helps your creative journey!
xo
Crystal Whitlow

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Vectorizing your artwork hand lettering to print and sell

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