How to turn your watercolors into fun cartoony letters using Illustrator

How to turn your watercolor lettering into fun vector cartoony letters using Illustrator. Video tutorial.

Do you have drawers full of old lettering pieces you did? I sure, do, and when I was looking through my old scans on my computer I stumbled upon this one, it's not bad, but I just didn't feel like it was awesome either. 

So I decided to see what magic I could do with it if I brought it into Illustrator. My fave tool of all time. I loved my result so much I immediately made a video for you. Because I'm sure you'd want to learn how to do this as well.

Don't have Illustrator? Grab your free 7-day trial here and when you're ready to dive deeper into Illustrator you can join me in my Digitizing with Illustrator Course


Here are the steps:

  1. Grab any lettering you have on hand, preferably something with a black outline, this gives it that cartoon look.
  2. Scan or take a picture of it in daylight.
  3. Open it in Illustrator, select the image, go to Object > Image Trace > Make. Then click ok if you get a little warning. 
  4. Then, open up the Image Trace Panel by going to Window > Image Trace. From there you can adjust the sliders to your desired result, and don't forget to select Ignore White.
  5. Once you done with that click Expand up in your menu bar. Or go to Object > Image Trace > Expand.
  6. From your Tool menu, select the rectangular tool and select a desired color, doesn't matter which one, this is just so you can see the box.
  7. Draw a box around all your lettering, and place it behind your lettering. Do that by selecting the box, right clicking on your mouse select Arrange > Send to Back.
  8. Then select everything, the box and the lettering. And from your Pathfinder window click Divide. Hover over the icons to see the names.
  9. Then all you have to do is. Using your Direct Selection tool, the white arrow, select the counters inside letters and any box parts that are outside your letters and hit Delete on your keyboard. 
  10. Now just select each letter and change the color to your what you want. 
  11. Done!
  12. Share your results by tagging me on your Instagram @twoeasels

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