Picture of Hand Drawn to Digital Illustrations
Do you have tons of hand-drawn sketches lying around that you wish you could digitize but don't know how? This instructable will get you started.

In this instructable, you will learn:
-how to scan with Adobe Photoshop (both Mac and PC users)
-appropriate tracing options in Adobe Illustrator (Pen Tool and Live Trace)
-tips to using a Wacom Tablet
-benefits & options for using the digitized versions

This tutorial is for:
-beginner to intermediate users of Photoshop and/or Illustrator
-anyone looking for a more formal understanding of creating vectors in Illustrator
-illustrators, designers, and other intermediate-level artisans

Step 1: Materials and Resources

Picture of Materials and Resources
Before you get started you will need a hand-drawn illustration that will fit on your scanner bed.

Here are a couple cool places to check out hand-drawn illustrations:


Beyond your illustration, you need:

-Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator (CS4)
-Wacom Tablet (optional)


Great and very detailed tutorial, but if if you don't have time to redraw sketches, send photo of your image to online vectorization service - http://www.vectorizeimages.com/

Actually, inkscape will even convert your image to a vector graphics, so you can enlarge and shrink without a loss of quality! Try shift+alt+b
As wonderful as Inkscape's vector tracing is (and trust me, I adore it), some projects need sharp detail that can't be achieved with the tracer. The amount of vertices required usually takes a sharp toll on my computer, and is worsened by more precise traces. I like to keep it clean and just use bezier paths and freehand stuff.
McGrep4 years ago
Thank you, this is exceedingly useful. Personally, I use my Bamboo and a Canon scanner, as they seem pretty efficient. Oh, and for those who are relatively uncomfortable with that (or do not have a scanner), you could always trace a drawing on paper positioned (maybe taped) onto your tablet.
siedpe135 years ago
definitely a high budget method seeing as many would not have photo shop and even a scanner
Not necessarily high budget re a scanner, which is almost an indispensable item to accompany one's computer for practicality.  The cost of a new scanner has come down greatly and are cross-platform, too, many of them now.  Older but quite usable models are available for very little on eBay.
fozzy135 years ago
Cool, I clearly need a Wacom tablet..

I wrote up a similar, but free, process in my instructable here: 
Bobblob5 years ago
A remarkably detailed instructable, not an easy task.  Thank you.  

It seems to show your skill understanding the tools used, the scanner, the software and your artistic abilities too.

To reply to siedpe13 comment about being a “high budget method” I would offer some options to include free programs that come very close to getting this job done as you have so skillfully described.

The scanner can be replaced with a cheap digital camera  to get an image into a computer.

There are many free paint programs to be found doing a search with ( Bing, Ask, Google Yahoo).

IrfanView is a freeware very fast, small,  graphic viewer for Windows  and the latest version has added a basic Paint option  to draw lines, circles, arrows, straighten image and do fills etc.  It can add text to an image, do edge detection, make an image into a negative,  reduce an image to just 2 colors etc. etc.

Inkscape is a freeware  Open Source vector graphics editor, with capabilities similar to Illustrator, CorelDraw, or Xara X.   I use Xara Xtreme 5 ( the latest version)  as my main creation and editing program.

I hardly ever use my scanner now but frequently use my camera, Corel’s PhotoPaint, IrfanView  and Xara Xtreme. The possibilities seem endless, explore and experiment.