Digitizing Your Brush Lettering - www.randomolive.com

With your newfound lettering skills, you’re interested in putting together your favorite quote as a piece of art. (You may also be wondering how I put together quotes like I do here)

I use a mix of physical and digital techniques. Letters and words are created on paper and then all the composition and color is added digitally. I’ll show you how I put it all together here.

Part 1: Letter on Paper

I’m lettering the phrase: “insert your favorite quote here” with black sumi ink that I’ve filled into a Pentel Aquash Waterbrush in Medium (affiliate link).

First thing to tell you. I do not compose the words on paper. I letter each word separately with the intent to cut it up and re-organize it in the computer.

Why? I know myself. I have a touch of perfectionism and I’d be totally unrelaxed and locked up if I knew it wasn’t just a draft. Also, if I mess up the spacing or spelling of one of the words, I can just letter that small portion again.

Digitizing Your Brush Lettering - www.randomolive.com

I also know that I letter big. It’s my way of getting smooth lines. So a standard letter-sized sheet of paper doesn’t have much room to play. Longer quotes or saying will often take up 2 to 4 sheets of paper to fit all my lettering.

This page gets to sit and dry for a few hours while I go eat a snack or a meal and watch TV.

When I come back to it, I scan at 600 dpi on grayscale using my Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 Scanner (affiliate link)

Part 2: Separate the Words from the Background

The next part is to separate the lettering from the white background. I like to use this process to keep the translucency of the letters – it keeps a brushy texture when layered over photos and other backgrounds.

I’m using Photoshop Elements 11 for this process.

Rotate the image.

Digitizing Your Brush Lettering - www.randomolive.com

Digitizing Your Brush Lettering - www.randomolive.com

Convert to RGB color.
Use levels to make sure the white is really white and the black is dark.

Digitizing Your Brush Lettering - www.randomolive.com

Convert the background layer to an editable layer.
Add a layer mask to the layer.

Digitizing Your Brush Lettering - www.randomolive.com

Select all and copy your lettering.
Paste your lettering into the layer mask.

Digitizing Your Brush Lettering - www.randomolive.com

Invert the layer mask.

Digitizing Your Brush Lettering - www.randomolive.com

Simplify layer.

Digitizing Your Brush Lettering - www.randomolive.com

And the white background is totally gone! You can now see the checkerboard pattern, which means it’s all empty pixels.

Use levels to make sure the black are dark again.

Digitizing Your Brush Lettering - www.randomolive.com

Part 3: Slice

When cutting the words apart, I put each word on its own layer. This will make it easy to move things around and rotate if necessary. Knowing that I was going to cut apart the words, I make sure to leave sufficient white space in my lettering stage.

Select the word using the rectangular marquee tool.

Digitizing Your Brush Lettering - www.randomolive.com

Right click.
Layer by cut.

Digitizing Your Brush Lettering - www.randomolive.com

Repeat for each word.

Digitizing Your Brush Lettering - www.randomolive.com

Avoid the word that was an error.
Hide the original layer.

Digitizing Your Brush Lettering - www.randomolive.com

Now each word is on its own layer to be able to manipulate.

Part 4: Compose

I use the move tool to click and drag the words to the ideal position. You can also turn on the gridlines to better see if things are aligned and then rotate any words that are crooked. I also like turning on a guideline in the center of the page to make sure things are centered.

Digitizing Your Brush Lettering - www.randomolive.com

After moving things around to my liking, I’ll crop down and save as a PNG file.

Digitizing Your Brush Lettering - www.randomolive.com

Digitizing Your Brush Lettering - www.randomolive.com

Part 5: Create Your Final Print Size and Add Color

Open a new document with the final print size you want to create. In this case, we’re creating an 4×4 print.

Digitizing Your Brush Lettering - www.randomolive.com

Resize your PNG file to fit.

Digitizing Your Brush Lettering - www.randomolive.com

Drag in your PNG file.

Digitizing Your Brush Lettering - www.randomolive.com

If you wanted a simple black and white print, you’re done here.

To add a solid color, create a new layer and fill it with whichever color you choose.

Digitizing Your Brush Lettering - www.randomolive.com

Clip the color layer to your lettering layer.

Digitizing Your Brush Lettering - www.randomolive.com

To add a watercolor effect, create a new layer and fill it with a watercolor pattern.

Digitizing Your Brush Lettering - www.randomolive.com

Clip the pattern layer to your lettering layer.

Digitizing Your Brush Lettering - www.randomolive.com

I have a variety of watercolor effects in my collection from Nicky Laatz and MakeMediaCo. (The Mammoth! Watercolour Kit, Give Me Watercolour Textures Quick!, The Ultimate Watercolor Bundle – affiliate links)

And that’s it!

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