Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Tutorial: Transform Your Handwriting Into A Font

Katharyn here! The only drawback to digital scrapbooking is that it can make your page seem less personnal because it’s all typewritten, rather than handwritten. I remember finding a stash of my mum’s school books when I was little and I sat there marvelling at how neat she had been as a student, and how creatively she signed her maiden name. I loved too, the awareness that she had been there, done this, put pen to paper and expressed herself on this very page - long before I was a twinkle in her eye. Well, now there is a way to get this onto your digital layout. There is a way to preserve old handwritten documents. A way to hand-write your own journalling from your computer keyboard (and delete away any mistakes!) And a way to create your own unique decorative fonts to use over and over.
 I love my son's gawky handwriting atm. His teacher wants him to neaten up, but I secretly hope it stays like this a little while longer!
Credits: Designs by Anita and Siamese Studio Collaboration: Love Notes

Method 1: Scanning and blending. This option is good for preserving children’s handwriting, digitising your late Grandma’s handwritten recipe books, or your old school love notes. It’s the option to use when you can’t get them to fill in a font template. Scan the note in at high resolution (300dpi). Save the file as a jpeg, PNG, or GIF. Open it in Photoshop Elements and place it on your page. You will have a lot of scope to resize, so play around. Add some digital cardstock below your note layer. Then, with the note layer active, adjust the opacity so the background cardstock texture starts to show through. You could even play with blending modes here, such as overlay or soft light. My layout uses normal blend at 35% opacity (with a shadow layer behind it too, which makes it slightly darker.) This gives the effect that I let my child write on a good piece of bazzill cardstock, when actually, it’s just a cheap white printer sheet of paper.  Creased and all!

Method 2: Scanning and extracting each letter manually, or using a pen tablet. This method is good for handwritten titles, or short blocks of text.  Write your alphabet onto a white piece of paper, using a black pen. Fine-point permanent markers work best, but again, you can play around for different effects. Leave enough space around each letter to enable you to “cut” around it digitally, later on. Scan in at high resolution 300dpi and save as a jpeg. Open the image in Photoshop Elements. Also open a new document (file>new>blank file> with these specs: 12inch, 12inch, RGB colour, 300dpi, with a transparent background). Now you need to extract the letters from the background white paper you wrote them on.  With your note layer highlighted in the layers palette, select the magic wand tool and press anywhere on the white of the paper. Marching ants should surround all your letters and the border of your page. Now press select>inverse and then copy it (ctrl>C). Bring your transparent canvas back up into your workspace and paste (ctrl>V) your selection on a new layer. All your letters should appear, but some might have white stuck inside the letters. To tidy this up, click with your magic wand tool on the remaining white pieces and hit your delete button. Of course, if you are lucky enough to have a pen tablet, you can skip the whole scanning and extraction process and write directly onto a transparent canvas.  Now save your new canvas full of letters as a PNG file to preserve the transparent background. To use them, you will need to select each letter with your marquee tool, and copy and paste them individually onto your layout page.

Method 3: Making your handwriting into a True Type Font. Now we are getting more serious, and a little bit professional J. There are programs out there in cyberspace that actually do all of this fiddly stuff for you. And some of them are free! They involve printing out a grid for you to write your letters onto, and scanning them into their software program. Take care to follow their instructions carefully, such as not crossing any lines, keeping your letters within the guidelines. I actually drew some line guides on another sheet of paper and sat it behind my template paper (to see faintly through it) so I could comply with this, because my handwriting is usually all over the place. If there is even a speck of dust somewhere within your template, it will turn out as a letter in your font! So clean off your scanner! The step-by-step instructions are easy to follow. The hardest part is writing out your alphabet in the boxes and trying not to make it too neat and unbelieveable!! But that wasn’t a problem for me, as you can see J. Some of the websites that do this include: fontifier.com (costs $US9 to download your font),  yourfonts.com (costs $US9 too), and fontstruct.com (for making decorative fonts). These programs will copyright your font and turn your file into TTF format, which means you can install it onto your computer and use it the same as you would other type functions, from your keyboard. To install: these next instructions apply to my PC, but I’m confident font installation for Mac, which also uses TTF, will be quite similar. Copy (right click mouse>copy) your font file that you downloaded. Go to your control panel (Start>Control Panel) find the “fonts” folder. Paste your font inside this folder. Restart your computer and you will have your own font installed!

Method 4: Buy a font-creation software program. Now you’re getting professional! These programs allow you to tweak your handwriting, adjust your leading (type thickness) and kerning (spaces between characters), capital letter heights, or manipulate it into something completely stylised, unique and different.  You’d follow this method if you are a serious font fanatic! Programs such as FontLab, FontCreator, TypeTool, Fontographer and Adobe Illustrator vary vastly in price, so it may be a good idea to trial them online before you commit to buying. 


Anonymous said...

Just a quick note to let you know that a link to this post will be placed on CraftCrave today [14 Jun 12:00am GMT]. Thanks, Maria

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