Hand Lettering with Adobe Capture: Featuring a Hand Lettering Piece by Esther Loopstra


Creative Cloud

There’s no question that hand lettering is gaining popularity in the design community. Just ask designers like Gemma O’Brien and Christine Herrin who have received recognition for their creative use of lettering. Why the surge in popularity? Hand lettering gives design projects a unique signature; it’s the designers personality manifest in the purest form.

Esther Loopstra believes that audiences have gotten so used to the clinical perfection of computer fonts, they want to see something more human. “People are really craving a more ‘done-by-hand’ quality,” Loopstra says. “They want to see that your work is authentic, finding beauty in the imperfections.”

The natural imperfections in hand lettering — like crooked lines or varying thicknesses in letters — give your designs more personality, allowing your audience to form a connection to the piece. Technically perfect lettering hides a designer’s individuality, but leaving in small flourishes or quirks lets the personality of the designer shine through.

Rather than using fonts, handlettering lets designers feature their most artistic side, using lettering that wholly belongs to them. For Loopstra, hand lettering has always resonated with her personal emotions. “I’ve been doing this type of hand lettering since I was a little girl, although it has certainly evolved since then,” she says. “It’s always different, and that really strikes a chord with the need for creativity and diversity that I have within myself as a designer.”

Prior to Adobe Capture’s launch, designers had to scan a hand-lettered document, open it in Illustrator, and use Image Trace to digitalize it before they could add the lettering element to their designs. “Capture simply makes life easier,” Loopstra says. Digitizing her lettering through an app like Adobe Capture allows Loopstra to design while on the go. It’s a simple process, and it gives her maximum control over what the final design will look like. Here’s how she uses Capture in her daily workflow.

How to create your own hand lettering with Adobe Capture:

Embed instructional video from Esther: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAGf9y-ca8o

1. Like any great design, hand lettering starts with a basic idea. Feel free to be as creative as possible. Consider how you want your lettering to look, what tone you want to convey. “A great way to get inspired is to look at other fonts in the world around you. How do they make you feel? What do you like or dislike about them?” Loopstra says.  

2. On paper, sketch out your text. Experiment with different types of writing materials to achieve the desired look. “The writing material you use has a major impact on the tone of the image,” Loopstra says. “For example, pencils will make your lettering softer and less refined, while pen will make the lettering bolder and sleeker.”

3. Once you have the text written out, open up the Capture app. At the top of the screen you’ll see the icons Shapes, Patterns, Colors, and Brushes. Select the Shapes icon, which opens up your Creative Cloud selected library, and then select the plus button. This begins the process that will allow you to add your hand lettering to your library.

4. Capture opens up your camera and allows you to choose how you want your image to look before taking the picture. Use the slider at the bottom of the screen to alter the thickness of the lines or choose the square at the top of the screen to invert the colors. The wand at the top right is the auto-clean feature, which will clean up your image for you before you capture it. Once you’re satisfied, press the green button to save the image.

5. On the next screen, you can refine and crop the lettering, as well as erase blemishes and remove anything you don’t want to be a part of the final shape. When you’re ready, click Next.

6. Capture will now turn your image into a vector. On this screen, you can choose whether or not you want to smooth out the image. When you’re satisfied, choose Next to save the shape into your CC library, save it in your camera roll, or export it to Illustrator or Photoshop. “Organization is key here,” Loopstra says. “I like to create libraries in Capture that allow me to organize all my different shapes. You can create a library specifically for hand lettering or one for all of the different shapes and elements you will need for a specific project.”  

7. You’re done! With just a few minutes of work, you now have a beautiful, personalized, and vectorized text you can manipulate in other Adobe applications.

“When it comes to hand lettering, don’t hold yourself back,” Loopstra says. “Experiment with lots of different mediums and textures. Try different inks or paints. Use whatever inspires you, and allow tools like Capture to open up a whole new mode of creativity.”

To easily incorporate hand lettering into your work, download Adobe Capture.