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BellaOnline's Digital Art and Design Editor


Add Personal Signature to Digital Art

Several of my readers have asked me how to add their personal signature to their digital art. If you are lucky enough to have a digital pen and the software that will capture and store your pen strokes as you write your signature, this becomes a simple process. However, for those of us who still use the mouse to create their digital art, we will need to start with a scan of our signature.

The first step is to write your signature on a piece of paper (usually white) and scan it into AdobeR PhotoshopR. If you will be creating your digital art for print, you probably have already set the resolution of your artwork to 300 dpi or larger. You will want to scan your signature at that same resolution. See the User's Guide for your scanner for details.
  1. Once the resolution is decided, go to the Menubar in Photoshop and click File> Import. You will see a list of import options. Click on the name of your scanner.

  2. Once the scan is complete, use the Crop tool to crop away the surrounding area from your signature. Try to crop as close to your signature as possible without cutting away any of the signature.

  3. If the artwork for which you want to add your signature has a white area, you can simply copy and paste your signature onto a new layer in your artwork. Then use the Move tool to place the signature over the white area.
That's easy enough. But most of your art will not have an nice white area just waiting for your signature and you do not want to see an ugly white rectangle on top of your art. Of course, you could try to select the white background with Photoshop's Magic Wand tool and remove the white from around the signature. However, your result will probably have a white shadowing or ghosting around the signature. This is not the result we want. What we need is a way to digitize your signature into a format that can be used any time, on top of any background and at any size. We need to convert your signature to a vector object or shape.

One option that will give better results is to use Photoshop's Pen tool to draw or trace over your scanned signature. But don't forget to start on a new empty layer. Once you have traced your signature with the Pen tool, it will be a vector shape and you can resize the signature larger or smaller as needed without loosing any detail. Because it is now on a transparent layer, you can copy the signature and paste it on to a new layer in your artwork, independent of the background color of the artwork. The signature will be clear and there will be no ghosting. This tracing process can also done in Adobe IllustratorR. Just open your scanned signature into Illustrator and add a new layer. Use the Pen and Line Segment tools to trace your signature.

I leave this next option for last because the amount of success you might have with it depends on your signature and the amount of customizing you can do to the Live Trace Presets.
  1. Open your scan into Illustrator and use the Selection tool to select the signature.

  2. Now the Live Trace button is available in the Options Bar. Clicked on the small arrow next to the Live Trace button for the drop-down menu of Presets. Each Preset will give a different result. When you try this yourself, you can fine tune the Presets in the Tracing Options dialog box. Just click on Tracing Options from the drop-down menu. You may even find a result that you like better than your real signature. My favorite was the result that I got from the Simple Trace Preset.

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Content copyright © 2015 by Diane Cipollo. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Diane Cipollo. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Diane Cipollo for details.


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