Digitize Your Calligraphy Without Tears – Tools & Materials

I’m so glad you’re here to learn how to digitize your calligraphy! I’m here to make sure that you make good use of your time and to do it without frustration. Photoshop and Illustrator can seem intimidating, but if you follow along with me you’ll wonder what you ever did without them! I would love to support you in your journey so please post photos on Instagram using #DigitizeWithoutTears and if you ever have any questions please leave a comment and I’ll try my best to answer them.

Note: I’m no expert, but I’ll be sharing with you the steps that work for me when I create greeting cards and prints. I’ll be focusing primarily on the steps to vectoring your calligraphy. There are a bunch of other things I can go over such as scanning in watercolors or making your lettering into a brush stamp, but I’ll try to post those tutorials at a later time.

The benefits of vectoring is so that you can scale up or scale down your work without losing any quality. Vector images are based on paths, not pixels. If you’ve ever increased an image size of a picture, you’ll notice that it turns out really pixelated. That happens because each pixel needs to grow and extend into the space because there are no other pixels there. By vectoring your calligraphy, you can use the same phrases for a small greeting card or for large prints easily. Knowing how to vector your calligraphy is also useful if you want to outsource your printing for letterpress and stationery. Most printers will ask for all texts and images to be vectored.

Now let’s go over the tools and materials you’ll need to get started.

Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Illustrator

Photoshop is used to clean up your images before sending it to Illustrator for vectoring. Adobe now has Creative Cloud where you pay a monthly fee to use their software. If you have never used Photoshop or Illustrator, I will do my best to provide step-by-step instructions. But I do highly encourage you to play around with it before my next post.

I have the Canon LiDE 220. You don’t need a fancy scanner. Just look for one that does scans at 600 dpi or greater. If you don’t want to invest in a scanner yet, you can also take a photo with your camera phone or camera. I’ve never done this, but I’ve heard others do it.
•Wacom Tablet (optional).
I have the Wacom Intus Pro Pen & Touch in the medium size. I do a lot of work digitizing so it’s been SUPER useful with the shortcut buttons and zoom features. But you can easily use your computer mouse during this tutorial.

Rhodia paper in blank ruling.
I use Rhodia No 18, but Rhodia No 16 and No 19 also have blank page versions. It’s super important to use super smooth, white, blank paper for scans! Trust me! This is where most of my frustrations came from when I first started cleaning up my calligraphy. I tried bristol paper, tracing paper, marker paper, cold press watercolor paper, you name it I’ve tried it! Some of them seem smooth but they aren’t and scanning picks up every little groove in the paper.
•Hot Press Watercolor Pad.
Hot press is a smooth watercolor paper unlike cold press which has a lot of tooth or texture to it. Watercolor paper is more expensive and so I use it more for my watercolor illustrations, but it is also good for calligraphy scans. I use theFabriano Hot Press Pad. It’s a bit harder to find in stores, but if you live in San Francisco Flax carries it. Arches also has a hot press pad, which you can find at most craft stores.
•Black ink.
Use an ink that’s opaque because then your scan will be able to pick up the edges of your letters. People recommend using Higgins Eternal ink for scans. I use Yasutomo Sumi Ink in black and it works well for me. Note that once you’re done vectoring your calligraphy, you will be able to change the color to anything you want.

Biggest take away: Smooth, white, blank paper!! I can’t emphasize this enough!

I hope this helped in getting all the tools and materials you need to start digitizing! Once you have the materials, calligraph a word that you would like to digitize. On Friday, I’ll go over scanning and prepping your file in Photoshop.

Remember to use #DigitizeWithoutTears to show your work and have others support you as well as you conquer Photoshop and Illustrator!

  • Jane said:

    Yay!! I can't wait to read more! :D

    Thanks for sharing!