9 Steps To Easily Digitize Your Doodles, Artwork, AND Hand Lettering

I teamed up with Brit + Co to bring you this easy peasy tutorial. Big thanks to Sarah Vogt for breaking down the steps in my online class.

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If you’re a hand letterer, artist, illustrator, or just an everyday doodler, you’ll want to start thinking about digitize your pieces. Why? Because it opens a whole new world of possibilities.

Once you digitize your work, you’ll be able to:

  • Easily add color, textures, and other elements that will add extra oomph
  • Publish it to your website or portfolio to show off your work
  • Create artwork that you can sell online (Think: Shopify, Etsy, or print out and gift!)
  • Add your custom designs to coffee mugs, a pouch, pillows, and more!

So how do you take your final designs from paper to digital? We’ve got all the steps right here using Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator:

  1. To import it into your computer you can use a scanner or just snap a photo with your phone. Pro tip: Avoid harsh shadows in your photo by taking a picture of your artwork in natural light (e.g. by a window).
  2. Once your artwork is on your computer, open it up in Adobe Photoshop.
  3. Use the Levels tool to adjust the whites and blacks. This should make the white paper pop a bit more and add contrast (which is what we want!). You can find the Levels tool by going to Image > Adjustments > Levels.
  4. Now it’s time to get it ready to pull into Adobe Illustrator. Select your design by using the Lasso tool or Marquee tool. Copy your selection in Adobe Photoshop.
  5. In Adobe Illustrator, open a new file. Depending on the orientation of your design, make sure you size your file to keep your ratios in-line with your design. Pro tip: Don’t worry too much about getting the right size at this point. Your file will be a vector, so you’ll be able to easily resize!
  6. Now that you have your new workspace in Adobe Illustrator, paste your clipboard into the file.
  7. Open up your Image Trace panel - It’s time to convert your artwork into a vector. To do this, go to Window > Image Trace. With your artwork selected, choose one of the Image Trace presets from the drop-down. You can adjust this even more by going into the Advanced settings and play around with Threshold, Paths, Corners, and Noise. Then click Trace. Pro tip: In the Advanced Settings, check Preview (so you can see it as you adjust) and Ignore White (this automatically deletes the non-art parts, and thus eliminates extra work later).
  8. The next step is to click Expand at the top of the artboard. Then, you’ll want to Ungroup the selection. This way, you’ll be able to adjust individual elements that make up your design. This is great if you want to move things around or color things differently.
  9. Now just clean up your artwork. Delete elements you don’t want and clean up edges if need be. Otherwise, now it’s time to start having fun. Add in color, try different textures, or move things around. There’ so many possibilities in Adobe Illustrator!

Do you need a little more instruction? We have just the class for you! Becky collaborated with us to create our Digital Illustration in Adobe Illustrator online class. In her course, she’ll teach you her step-by-step process for taking a hand-drawn sketch and digitizing it to create an awesome art print. You’ll also get access to Becky’s pro tips and tricks to working effortlessly in Adobe Illustrator.

Not only will you learn a new creative design skill, but you’ll have access to your class at any time. All of our Brit + Co online classes are on-demand, so if a 60-minute class sounds daunting, try taking one lesson each day to continue learning. Or heck, watch the whole thing over a lazy Sunday while you’re still in your pajamas. Whatever works for you! It’s yours for keeps, so you can continue learning at your own pace.