How to Digitize Lettering Without Photoshop

lettering software Aug 29, 2019

Through my experience in lettering, I saw many artists start lettering with the iPad and Apple Pencil or using Photoshop and Illustrator to digitize their lettering. Back then, I didn’t have the tools that everyone was using. Photoshop and Illustrator required monthly payments and frankly, I wasn’t for that. I started doing my own research and discovered a new way to digitize my lettering and I’m hoping that I can share my methods with you in this short tutorial!


Before we begin, here’s what you need:

  • A phone that can scan your lettering or a scanner
    • I typically use my phone with the app CamScanner
  • A laptop or computer with the free program Inkscape downloaded
  • Some paper and a brush pen to create your lettering


Step 1: Letter your piece

Now that you have the necessary tools, we can get started! After you letter your quote or word that you’d like to digitize, use your phone or scanner to scan your artwork. For my example, I chose to letter “adventure awaits.”

PRO TIP: Smoothen the edges of your letters with a thin pen before scanning. This will make the digital trace step much easier. 


Step 2:  Scan your lettering

You’ll want to send the scan (in JPG form) to the computer that has Inkscape downloaded. After you’ve downloaded your scan onto your computer, you can open Inkscape.


Step 3:  Open Inkscape

Once Inkscape opens, hover over the file button and click “open” to select the scan of your lettering. Once selected, click “open.”


Step 4:  Trace

After you open your file, a new window should open and you’ll see your art scan. Click on it to make sure it’s selected. Then, hover over the “path” button and click “trace bitmap.”


Step 5: Adjust settings

Next, you’ll have to adjust the settings for the trace to achieve the best results. I’ve attached the settings that I typically use when I’m digitizing my letters with this method. I bump up the threshold to make sure the trace will cover all of my letters and I make sure to have “live preview” and “remove background” on. “Live preview” will help me make sure that my lettering is actually selected and when “remove background” is selected, it will automatically remove the white background for you. 

Threshold: 0.700
Threshold: 0.650
“Remove Background” and “Live Preview” are both on.


Step 6: Process the trace

Once you’ve changed your settings, hit the “ok” button. The trace will begin and smoothen the edges of your lettering. You can click and drag to move your new “traced” letters to the side and delete your old scan. 

Step 7: Make fun edits

Select your traced lettering, and if you’d like, you can change the color of your lettering using the color palette on the bottom of the screen. 

Step 8: Export your file

Once you’re satisfied, you can rename your file and click export. The extension will automatically be a PNG so there won’t be a background if you want to add your lettering to a stock photo. You can also click “save as” to save your lettering as an SVG file/vector file. 

And there you have it! You’ve successfully digitized your lettering! It’s ready to be posted on social media, with friends and family, or put on a stock photo or product!

I really hope this tutorial helped all of your digitizing needs! If you have any questions, remember you can always contact me through Instagram @aaronletters or email me at [email protected]. Feel free to share your digitized creations on Instagram and tag me @aaronletters! Thank you so much for reading and keep creating! 

Hey everyone! I’m Aaron Yang (@aaronletters) the artist of Aaron Letters Studio. I first began lettering in December of 2016. Just like most of us, I was drawn to the beautiful art of creating letters through Instagram videos. I started posting my art on Instagram as a way to track my progress and soon I gained an audience full of supportive artists. I felt super comfortable with the lettering community as I made mistakes and learned from the artists I met through the platform.