How To Pull Text & Typography from Low-Res Images
It's a week before tech for SCLO's Hello Dolly in the McKinney Theatre. Our scenic painter needs a transperancy of a period window sign for the millinery. The only source image we have is a low-res photo from Vintage Maine Images.
Note:This fake little tutorial is meant for those who have a decent understanding of masking and making selections.
1. Open the image in Photoshop.
2. Duplicate the layer using cmnd+J and use the marquee rectangle tool to create a marching ants box around the desired text or image you'd like.
3. Click the "Quick Mask" button (white rectangle with the gray dot) and delete the background layer.
4. If your image is white on a dark background (like this one is), invert the colors using Image > Adjustments > Invert. Luckily, I'm working with a black and white photo so that makes this step super easy*
*with a color image you're pulling text from, you may want to use the adjustments menu to turn the image Black & White first.
5. Black text! Now we're getting somewhere. Using the marqee rectangle tool and/or the lasso tool, create a closer selection to the text and mask out the stuff you don't want to see anymore.
6. Fun part! Separating the light from the dark. Or increasing/decreasing the threshold of the image. Go to Image > Adjustments > Threshold and slide the little arrow down until the junk in the background disappears. As you can see in the example below, the F still has some extra pixels attached to it. But it's nothing we can't mask out.
7. Once you've got the clean (yet pixelated) text, save the image as a .jpg and close Photoshop.
8. Open a New Document in Adobe Illustrator (whatever size you'd like). I made my document 1000px by 1000px. In your new image go to File > Place and select the .jpg you just saved in Photoshop.
9. There's your image! All pretty and ready to be vectorized.
10. Go to Window > Image Trace. In the Image Trace window, select "Black and White Logo." Make sure your image is selected during this step. Image Trace creates a sooth-n-pretty vector version of your image.
11. Slide around the Image Trace Threshold until it's where you like it and Voila!
They're in the scene shop creating the window stencil right now.
*takes a little bow*