Paper Sketch To Vector Awesome

Call me tacky (except don't, that would hurt my feelings), but I am obsessed with Valentine's Day for a trillion reasons. Mainly because Valentine's Day cards are adorable and really fun to make.

This year I wanted to try some custom hand lettering to put in my cards. I have approximately zero knowledge of all this, but wanted to see if my method of getting characters from paper to Illustrator would work for lettering as well. The whole thing worked out rather favorably so I wanted to share the process for those that may be curious.

I started out by sketching a lot of ugly stuff on regular boring paper with regular boring pencils until I got a basic idea of the route I wanted to take with this beast. Then, I brought it to grid paper and busted out my nice grown up pencils; if you are going to be an adult that likes to color, you at least need some nice tools to justify why your toddler cannot use your stuff. I then created a lightly drawn "S" on grid paper.

Once I was happy with this, it was time to move onto pen, even though the idea of finalizing this guy still terrified me. I said it twenty eight (I started young) years ago and I'll say it again: coloring in the lines is hard.


I then traced with tracing paper and scanned. My tracing wasn't perfect, as I knew Illustrator would make an honest designer out of me. Have I mentioned I would be dead without the Smooth Tool? At this point you can trace over the scanned image in Illustrator with the Pen tool, or you can use the Image Trace option. I used the Pen Tool. We have kind of a good thing going. I placed the scanned image on a layer, locked it, and then traced over it on a different layer.

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If you are looking to learn more about the actual hand lettering process, I highly suggest checking out the work and tutorials of Sean Wes.

Happy sketching!