Why I Should Write Photoshop Tutorials


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. 

Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 10.20.05 AM

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.

Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 10.21.00 AM

3. Click the "Quick Mask" button (white rectangle with the gray dot) and delete the background layer.

Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 10.21.37 AM

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.

Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 10.22.15 AM

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.

Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 10.23.49 AM

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. 

Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 10.24.46 AM

7. Once you've got the clean (yet pixelated) text, save the image as a .jpg and close Photoshop. 

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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.

Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 10.26.53 AM

9. There's your image! All pretty and ready to be vectorized. 

Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 10.27.21 AM

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. 

Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 10.28.29 AM

11.  Slide around the Image Trace Threshold until it's where you like it and Voila!

Window SignA sign! 

They're in the scene shop creating the window stencil right now. 

*takes a little bow*