Simple Way to Digitize your Artwork

Before, it takes a lot of technical skills to digitize your artwork. Using the Pen tool on Adobe Illustrator is the go-to method for transforming your artwork from a scanned image to a vector image that you can resize to your heart’s content.

Technology has advanced quite a lot, and it is becoming easier to use your hand-drawn work in digital products and prints. If you have an Adobe Creative Cloud membership, digitizing your work has never been easier. Using a combination of Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop with a mobile application called Adobe Capture, in a few clicks, you’ll be having it on your desktop in no time.

Of course, having the skills to use the Pen tool is still important if you need the work to be in smooth and precise curves and dimensions. But if you are just after the hand-drawn look which is still in these days, this method would suit you perfectly.

Prepare the artwork

Make sure that the lettering that you plan to digitize is already refined, so the final output will look cleaner. It’s better to have your work inked in black on clean white paper. This way, you will end up with less noise when you take the photo.

To start, load the Adobe Capture app on your phone. On the Shapes tab, press the (+) button at the bottom of the screen to add a new photo. The screen turns into a camera where you can take a photo of the lettering.

Adobe Capture Happy Valentines - 1

Adobe Capture CC loading screen

Adobe Capture Happy Valentines - 2

Adobe Capture Shapes tab

For this example, I will use a photo that I took earlier. To do that, simply press the small square box (representing your phone Gallery) at the bottom right of the screen then select Camera Roll then select the photo you want.

Adobe Capture Happy Valentines - 3

Select a Photo

Image Trace

The screen then turns into an Image Trace. Image Trace is the process of selecting the lines, markings or pixels from the source image and converting them into fills and strokes. In this case, it selects the black ink and transforms the lines into strokes and fills it with a black color.

Note: Since you used black ink on white paper, you don’t need to change the settings anymore. However, if you used light ink on dark paper, you can just press the [o] icon at the top of the screen.

When you move the slider, you will see that there are green markings on screen. The green ink indicates which lines and pixels on the screen will be converted into the vector shape. Move the slider to the right until all the lines you want are selected. In this example, The goal is for the whole heart-shaped Happy Valentines lettering piece to be selected. To make sure that what you need is selected, you can toggle from a live preview and a rendered black and white shape preview by clicking on the image box. The image below is the live preview.

Do not mind the noise and other items that are selected — the map, pens and other tools. You can erase or deselect them in the next step. When you are happy with the selection, press the capture button (huge circle at the bottom).

Image Trace — Live Preview

Refining, Cropping, and Smoothing

In this step, you can remove the unwanted parts of the image. The Deselect option is enabled by default. You can press and hold to remove the parts that you do not need — the whole map, the pens, etc. If you mistakenly deselected something, just click on the Select option and hover on the parts you want to bring back. You can also click on the Undo icon.

You also have the choice to erase the whole portion instead of just deselecting the pixels. For me, it does not matter as much whether you use deselect or erase. In the end, the result will still be only the shapes you selected in this stage. Once everything looks good, click Next.

Deselect / Erase

To crop and align the shape, click on the Crop tab. Then, you can rotate the compass/ruler to align it and select and drag the corners to the desired size to crop it.


Depending on the look you are going for, you can choose to smoothen the image. For this piece, I chose to turn smoothing on. I like how this one turned out.


Saving and Exporting

Finally, you can save the digitized lettering to your Creative Cloud library for later use. Enter the name you want to call it, and select the folder you want to save it to. When you’re happy with it, click Save Shape.

Saving — Name and Library

The shape should now sync to your library. If you want to use it immediately in Illustrator or Photoshop, you can select the shape and click Open in Adobe Mobile or Desktop Apps. Or when you are in your desktop application, you can select the library folder and drag the shape into the working area.


The first time may be a bit overwhelming, but as you proceed with the steps, you’ll realize that most of the actions are intuitive. Once you get the hang of it, it can take you just 5–10 mins to digitize any artwork.

Let me know if this post helped you. I’d love to see what you made. Feel free to tag me @nathanielong or use #designwithnate on Instagram so I can see your work. Looking forward to seeing your work!

Thank you for reading my blog. This is originally posted on Designate Studio. Subscribe to my newsletter, and receive weekly motivations, inspirations, and tips to better your lettering and your craft. I am looking forward to having you here to learn together, follow my journey and to #designwithnate.

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