So you’ve just finished creating your lovely lettering, and you want to scan your piece and overlay it onto an image. But what is the best way to go about it and how do you keep those lovely little details that add texture and character to the finished piece, without losing quality. I have one solution for you to try that can be completed in a few very simple steps.
1. Firstly, let’s get that image scanned. Ideally you want to use a DPI of 300 or higher. However, I have used this technique many times with nothing but an iPad camera (5mp), perfect for quick practice pieces. Here is my very rough lettering piece. Far from perfect, but that doesn’t matter! (read the tip below).
*Tip – If the end result is going to be digital, keep in mind that you don’t have to nail your finished piece on paper. Everything can be edited. Don’t throw pieces away because your lowercase ‘a’ looks a little shitty, just carry on scribbling underneath. I’ve found that by doing this I become less frustrated and more creative with my work. Also, you can see that I have the tendency to create little extras surrounding my type. They might come in handy, you never know!
2. Change your image to Black and White (alt+shift+ctrl+b) by selecting Image > Adjustments > Black & White. You can leave the settings as they are, or do what I do, click auto then OK.
3. Navigate to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast. Tick the ‘Use Legacy‘ option, and play around with the sliders until the background is as white as possible and that the texture of the type is how you like it. The texture of the type will be down to personal preference. The soft style I’ve gone for below will allow for some of the photo to show through.
If you want a solid fill, your contrast will usually be much higher than your brightness. Again, the numbers do not have to be exact. Once you’re happy, click OK.
4. The next thing you want to do is copy your image. Navigate to Select > All (Ctrl + A), then, Edit > Copy (Ctrl + C). Now that you have your image copied, select the ‘Edit in Quick Mask Mode‘ (Q). Then Edit > Paste. You will now have something that looks like the image below.
At this point, turn off the quick mask mode by selecting it again (or Q again). You’ll now notice that you have the inverted selection of your artwork. Now, Make a new layer (Layer > New > Layer), inverse your selection (Select > Inverse) and fill the selection with your desired color using the paint bucket tool (G) in the new layer. Delete the Background layer, and you will be left with something like this.
5. Open your lucky image, then copy and paste your prepared lettering on top. This will also work with sketches and illustrations. Try it! (I duplicated the lettering layer, and offset the bottom of the two layers, then changed the color to a dark grey to create the shadow effect)
Extra; Whilst the outcome looks pretty cool, this would not be a finished piece. There’s a few issues with the lettering (specifically the letter spacing and sizes), and I want to incorporate one of the circles I drew. This is where the joys of digital can help. Below I reshaped the S, E, T and C. These small changes, as I’m sure you’ll agree, made the piece more uniform.
Useful resource list: