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Tutorial: Make Your Pencil Lettering Look Like Chalk in Seconds

April 23, 2015

A few people have asked me how I make some chalk lettering similar to the work I did for Huffy.

Note: you can use this technique for any type of lettering, but if you want to make it look like chalk, it's best to use a thick, soft pencil. I love the Faber-Castell Jumbo Pencils in a 6B or 8B softness. You also want the paper to have a little tooth rather than a piece of smooth paper. I use Strathmore tracing paper to achieve the results I got.

Okay so the first thing you wanna do is scan in your image. I usually scan in grayscale at about 800dpi when I'm scanning in lettering. Open in photoshop and your image should look like this:

Next, mess with the levels. Play around with the sliders until the background is mostly white and the lettering has the amount of texture you want to keep.

Image > Adjustments > Levels  or ⌘L if you're fancy.

Ok. You still with me? Duplicate your layer, create a layer in-between the duplicate and your background layer, and make the fill black or a dark color.

Now here comes the magic part. Go to your channels panel, the one that is usually nested with the layers panel, but you probably don't use that often. There's a little circle with dots. Click it!!

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 3.32.29 PM.png

What this does is select all the white in your image. So your image should look like this:

Now just hit the delete key! You'll see a bunch of gray on black. Now go to your layers panel and lock the transparency for your copy layer.

Deselect (⌘D) and paint your lettering in whatever color you want. (I used white)

Yay! Now all you have to do is select your favorite and put it on whatever image you want!

Happy lettering!

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