Digitizing Doodles


In the most recent episode of the Digi Show, I talked about a class at Get It Scrapped to learn doodling (click over there for a coupon code for the class).  I said that I would be posting a tutorial this weekend for “Digitizing Your Doodles” and here it is.

I am not an artist, but I learned some techniques in this class that I decided to try and was pleased with the results.  I am excited to work through each exercise and see what I can do!

I just used a regular piece of paper and a ball point pen.  A ball point pen isn’t the best doodling implement option out there and doesn’t create doodles that are very easily digitized, but it will work.  A felt tipped pen is typically a better choice.

We first need to desaturate the image:

In PSCS go to Image> Adjustments> Desaturate


If you are in PSE go to Enhance> Convert to Black and White


Next, we need to increase the contrast:

In PSCS  go to Image> Adjustments> Brightness/Contrast


In PSE, go to Enhance> Adjust Lighting> Brightness/Contrast


I moved the slider for contrast all the way to the right (in either program):


Next, I used the lasso tool to select one of the doodles, copied it, and pasted it to a new, blank canvas.

Now, we need to separate the black from the white, so I use the magic wand for that and here are my settings in either program:



Use the magic wand and click on the white part (not on the doodle).  Then, Select> Inverse.  Copy this and paste to a new, blank canvas.

It will look like you only copied the doodle, but if you add a red stroke to it, you will be surprised how many pixels are there that you can’t see without the stroke.

In PSCS, I just double clicked on the layer and then selected stroke.  You can also go to Layer> Layer Style> Stroke.

In PSE, Layer> Layer Style> Style Settings and select Stroke.

I usually use a 3-4 pixel stroke in the default red for this.  Here is what my doodle looked like:



Wowzers!  All those little red dots are stray pixels that I didn’t see with my naked eye, even zoomed in at 200%.  These need to be erased, so grab a hard, round eraser brush and get to work!

Now, we’ll change the brightness so the doodle is all black, accessing the menu the same as we did above, this time using these settings:


I wanted my lines to be thicker, so I added a 4 pixel stroke and then, in PSE, I simplified the layer (right click on the layer and select “Simplify”).  In PSCS, I added the stroke by going to Edit> Stroke instead of adding it as a style.  This adds a stroke that is simplified already.

Now, we want to smooth the edges a bit.  Select the doodle layer in the layers stack and with the magic wand tool selected, click on the blank canvas. Inverse that selection, just like we did above.  Now, click on the “Add Layer Mask” icon in PSCS in PSE it’s called the “Layer Vector Mask”.  They look the same though:


You will need to make sure the mask is active, this is what it looks like when it’s active in PSCS (note the brackets around the masked image):


Here’s what it looks like in PSE when the mask is active (it’s highlighted):


We need to add a Gaussian Blur to the mask.  In either program; Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur.  I usually select between 1.5 to 3.0 depending on the size of the image.  If the image is small, the larger you go on the number, the less of the image there will be.

Now, we need to “firm up the edges” (that’s what I call it, not sure what it’s called for sure).  You do this by changing the levels:

In PSCS go to Image> Adjustments> Levels.

In PSE go to Image> Adjust Lighting> Levels (see below).


Now, you play with the sliders, while keeping an eye on the edges of your image to see how they are looking.  Most often, you will slide the black toward the center, but not too far or you will lose too much of your image.


Now you can see that the edges are much smoother:


Here’s my finished doodle:


So, how about it?  Are you going to try digitizing some doodles?  I would love to see if you do!