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Help me with my letters, digital technique problems.

Chop LogicChop Logic Registered User regular
edited October 2007 in Artist's Corner
So I'm really big on letters, and I'm trying to scan some in and make them look nice on the computer for my college portfolio. This is the problem. I start out with something like this:

prob1.jpg

And then using the magic wand tool (in GIMP) I select the area around the letters, invert my selection, make them all black, invert all the colors and I either get a very fuzzy image or a very hard edged unprofessional looking image. Check it:

THISK.jpg

thisktest.jpg

I also did these two things but had the same problem.

mckievsmall.jpg

fontsmall.jpg

Can anyone help? I'll post more stuff in here later, I havent had a thread in a while, I've gotten a lot better.

Chop Logic on

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    MagicToasterMagicToaster JapanRegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    If you want a really clean look, you'll have to trace them by hand using the pen tool. I can do it for you... but you know $$$.

    MagicToaster on
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    Chop LogicChop Logic Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Damn, thats what I was afraid of. Well, these are going to be shrunk down anyway and just going to be a small piece of my portfolio, so whats the best way to do it, short of tracing with the pen tool?>

    Chop Logic on
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    furiousNUfuriousNU Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I'm not gonna go into a ton of technical details, but type is extremely difficult to design and you're gonna have to do a lot if you want to get your letters to look nice digitally. The fuzziness you are getting is an unfortunate part of using pixel type images. Vector type images would give you the "crisp" look you are looking for, but it's a format that can be produced in limited ways and it takes some work.

    You have two options:

    A:

    If you are going to scan in your type and present it as paper+marker media, you need to make sure you are making high quality scans and play around with the contrast to make your type look good.

    B:

    If you want to make your type look like it was digitally produced like a font, you may want to consider using the pen tool to trace your letters and fill them with solid black. This would give you the "crisp" vector look you are trying to get. However learning how to use the pen tool properly may take some extra time.


    The other thing is, you need to provide more margin space for some of your type. You have enough space in "M.C. Kiev", but not in your first piece. Generally speaking, it's not good to let things bleed off the page if they are expressing a single recognizable entity. There are exceptions to these rules, but I don't see them applying to your pieces.

    furiousNU on
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    furiousNUfuriousNU Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Chop Logic wrote: »
    Damn, thats what I was afraid of. Well, these are going to be shrunk down anyway and just going to be a small piece of my portfolio, so whats the best way to do it, short of tracing with the pen tool?>

    There really isn't any other way, considering most professional looking type is all vector based.

    furiousNU on
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    Chop LogicChop Logic Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    The thing is, I'm not looking it actually make a font, I just want to show them that I can make some cool letters.

    How hard it it to learn how to use the pen tool? Is there a pen tool in GIMP?

    Chop Logic on
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    MagicToasterMagicToaster JapanRegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Chop Logic wrote: »
    The thing is, I'm not looking it actually make a font, I just want to show them that I can make some cool letters.

    How hard it it to learn how to use the pen tool? Is there a pen tool in GIMP?


    It's not at allhard to use the pen tool. However, unlike most of the tools in PS or illustrator, it's the one that's not as instantly intuitive. You just need practice with it to get used to how it behaves. As for GIMP, I never used it.... I wouldn't know if there's a pen tool in it.

    MagicToaster on
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    117Lei117Lei Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    If you have MX Freehand (a similar program to Illustrator) or know someone who has it, there is a tool called autotrace that might help. Its not an instant win button, but it sure is a fast way to vectorize (is that a real word?) stuff. You have to correct stuff, because it isn't infallable though.

    Do you have any experience in vector based stuff? Its really not as intuitive as raster.

    117Lei on
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    furiousNUfuriousNU Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Chop Logic wrote: »
    The thing is, I'm not looking it actually make a font, I just want to show them that I can make some cool letters.

    How hard it it to learn how to use the pen tool? Is there a pen tool in GIMP?

    hmmm just thought of something else

    If you do decide to use the pen tool to make a digital version of your type, you don't have to do a whole alphabet or w/e. For example you could scan in a really nice/big version of an "A" and then trace it over/fill it to make a digital" A" and that would be enough to show that you know some stuff about translating your paper+marker stuff->digital. It would not be that time consuming either. Quality>quantity.

    furiousNU on
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    paulwindpaulwind Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    i'm surprised no one has mentioned live trace with some tooling around with the tracing options to get a consistent edge:

    thisk-1.gif

    paulwind on
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    RandomActionRandomAction Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Adobe Illustrator that baby and you'll be all set.. Best advice unless you don't have illustrator :P

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    no_toastno_toast Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Maybe the easiest way to remove uneven edges is using median filter, the result isn't perfect tho.

    median.png

    no_toast on
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    flatlinegraphicsflatlinegraphics Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    pen tool/bezier pen is going to be the best. autotracing something like that will autotrace the bumps and jags, and now you have a bumpy uneven vector version. just sit down and learn the pen tool. its something that will be usefull for the rest of your career (assuming a graphic design/computer art based career).

    also, make sure you scan at the highest settings you can. 300+ dpi, and you might be able to just print out from the scanned file.

    i really don;t know anythign about pen tools in gimp, but there is inkscape as an alternate open source vector program. looking at gimp.org, it looks like there is a pen tool/path tool. 7th tool over in the standard tool palette.

    flatlinegraphics on
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    ManonvonSuperockManonvonSuperock Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    if you have photoshop, and you want a smooth, crisp line, here's what i do which seems to work well. settings may need to be adjusted for your line width, but for the width i use, these work.

    300dpi scan greyscale, adjust levels for good contrast, filter->blur->gaussian blur 2px, filter->artistic->cutout levels=2 edge simplicity=3 (make sure your image is still in greyscale mode when you do this, or else the cutout efect does not give the desired effect), then lastly, i use the magic wand tool with no anti-aliasing, with the contiguous box not checked and the tolerance at 100 to select the black areas, and fill in all of those areas straight black, then invert the selection to fill in the remaining areas as straight white.

    you'd have to go back in and do touch ups for some rounded edges and stuff, but it's the best that i've found can be easily done in photoshop.

    Here's a before and after on some inks for one of my comics using that technique:
    inkcomparison.gif

    And here's one of your images doing the same thing. That's without enlarging it to a print quality resolution as well, which would help a lot.
    thisk.gif

    ManonvonSuperock on
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    Giga GopherGiga Gopher Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    thiskfixeduq9.png

    I took Manonvon's effort, doubled it's size, applied a Cutout filter, then resized it.

    You really should learn to use the pen tool though, it's very useful once you get how it works.

    Giga Gopher on
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    MagicToasterMagicToaster JapanRegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    C'mon guys, don't be lazy, use the pen tool. Anyone can auto trace line art or bombard it with filters, it's taking the time out to trace every contour that will set the quality of work apart. If you're skimming on quality, what kind of designer are you?

    Learn how to use the pen tool, it's useful for a myriad of things.

    MagicToaster on
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    flatlinegraphicsflatlinegraphics Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    C'mon guys, don't be lazy, use the pen tool. Anyone can auto trace line art or bombard it with filters, it's taking the time out to trace every contour that will set the quality of work apart. If you're skimming on quality, what kind of designer are you?

    Learn how to use the pen tool, it's useful for a myriad of things.

    yeah, like when your art director (me) piles 300 product shots in your inbox and needs them clipped out for a catalog. my last intern im'd me out of the blue and thanked me for making her learn/use clipping paths/pen tools. it made her actual job waaaay easier.

    its one of the most important tools to learn, and one that the schools and students seem to ignore completely.

    and, once you have the pen tool down, it would take you less time to just trace it out than to run all these filters. and the results would be waaaaay better. plus, printing it, at any size, and you get absolutely sharp edges.

    quick and dirty outer tracing. if you want me to do the rest, email me, and we'll talk $$$
    tsample.jpg

    flatlinegraphics on
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    RubberACRubberAC Sidney BC!Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Is that a joke, cause you pretty much just butchered that whole thing

    RubberAC on
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    furiousNUfuriousNU Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    RubberAC wrote: »
    Is that a joke, cause you pretty much just butchered that whole thing

    If you're talking about Flatline's example, it's called not having other people do your artistic work for you. Flatline is just giving the OP a small taste of what it could look like done in vector. And frankly, the smoothness of the line quality makes it the best option for the OP's text stuff.

    furiousNU on
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    MagicToasterMagicToaster JapanRegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    RubberAC wrote: »
    Is that a joke, cause you pretty much just butchered that whole thing

    Dude, what? Thats the sharpest one yet.

    MagicToaster on
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    flatlinegraphicsflatlinegraphics Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    no, not a joke. it was to show what could be done in less than 10 minutes with the pen tool. anything more than 10 minutes and i'd have to charge my usual hourly rate. and as furiousNU said, it was done as an example, not as a way to do the OP's work for him. esp if this is for a portfolio.

    back to the OP, really. this is a big deal. just as big as mounting up your work. put the effort in, trace it all out. and if you ever get further into typography, and want to start designing fonts, you will HAVE to do this.

    flatlinegraphics on
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    The-VThe-V Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I think people are missing the bigger point here... why in the world would a college care about your graphito style lettering? In my opinion it shows you already have bad habits in designing type if you're going to be a type designer. Of course I might just be out of the loop here... wouldn't they be more interested in your artwork?

    The-V on
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    ManonvonSuperockManonvonSuperock Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    If you want a really clean look, you'll have to trace them by hand using the pen tool. I can do it for you... but you know $$$...

    ...C'mon guys, don't be lazy, use the pen tool. Anyone can auto trace line art or bombard it with filters, it's taking the time out to trace every contour that will set the quality of work apart. If you're skimming on quality, what kind of designer are you?

    Learn how to use the pen tool, it's useful for a myriad of things.
    and, once you have the pen tool down, it would take you less time to just trace it out than to run all these filters...

    ...if you want me to do the rest, email me, and we'll talk $$$...

    ...no, not a joke. it was to show what could be done in less than 10 minuteswith the pen tool. anything more than and i'd have to charge my usual hourly rate...

    it was two filters, actually. if you can trace an entire page of his work in less time than it takes to run them... (roughly 30 seconds), then he shouldn't be too worried about paying your hourly fee. as long as you don't round up that is. :D

    my suggestion's definitely not to be taken as a replacement for learning how to use the pen tool and doing a nice-assed vector trace of anything, but if the kid's short on time, and has never done it before, a high res scan tweaked in photoshop can give him a good, clean printout.

    I also find it ironic that the two people most vocally opposed to taking any shortcuts around here are the two that offerred to do it for money.

    ..you can NEVER do it that way (that's easy for beginners but doesn't look quite as good)! You HAVE to do it this way (using a steep-learning curved technique that you're obviously not familiar with). Don't worry though, I can do it for you for $$$.

    vultures.

    ManonvonSuperock on
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    saltinesssaltiness Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    A: I wouldn't use this style as a portfolio piece for college.

    B: For fuck's sake, learn to use the pen tool if you plan on doing any kind of graphic design work in the future. It's not that complicated.

    saltiness on
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    MagicToasterMagicToaster JapanRegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I also find it ironic that the two people most vocally opposed to taking any shortcuts around here are the two that offerred to do it for money.

    vultures.

    Manonvon, do you have a job or are you some sort of graphic designer philanthropist?

    MagicToaster on
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    ArmainaArmaina Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    prob1.gif
    my results don't look too different from others. really what I did was, greyscale, max the brightness and contrast, fill in the spots that needed to be, gaussian blured till all the edges were smooth, then used the brightness and contrast again.
    this method is easier with more solid lines

    now I have to join the group in saying vector is best, but if you don't have illustrator
    http://inkscape.org/

    Vector can be awkward at first, but it absolutely essential for any commercial work.
    I love free stuff

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    saltinesssaltiness Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I also find it ironic that the two people most vocally opposed to taking any shortcuts around here are the two that offerred to do it for money.

    vultures.

    Manonvon, do you have a job or are you some sort of graphic designer philanthropist?
    I think he's just adapting to the super-saturated graphic design field faster than everyone else. Soon, everyone will be working for free.

    saltiness on
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    ManonvonSuperockManonvonSuperock Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    nope, just a shitty art student here.

    ManonvonSuperock on
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