Text on Photo Hand Lettering Tutorial

Hey Folks

I thought I would share how I created this hand lettered piece using a photo:


I was inspired by a friends photo taken in St Ives, Cornwall, UK which happens to be one of my favourite places.

The Photo Inspiration


The Process

The words I chose to use “As I was going to St Ives” come from quite a well known rhyme / riddle about the place.

Here is an overview photo to illustrate the steps below:


First I printed out the photo.

Next I laid tracing paper over the photo and started drawing the letters on the right side in a place I thought looked best.

The pencil lettering was not quite the effect I was looking for so I moved onto using a Copic Ciao brush pen over the pencil guide letters.

Next I scanned in this brush lettering I had created, then blew it up and printed it out so I could trace the letters more easily at a larger size (a4). You can see the rough pencil lines underneath the brush pen:

as i was going brush

The edges are quite messy and need cleaning up at this stage. So I overlaid this image with tracing paper and used a 2h pencil lead to trace a very sharp outline (some people use a lightbox with regular paper):


Next I traced over the pencil outline with a Staedtler fine liner and filled it in with a SakuraGraphic 1 Pen:


Next I scanned in the filled in lettering and vectorised it using Cocoapotrace (a free vectorisation program) with the standard settings.

as i was going brush 1


st ives vector


Finally I positioned the text over the photo in Photoshop and changed the text colour with “colour overlay” (click image to enlarge).

Screen Shot 2013-07-04 at 14.59.29

The Final Image


The drawing tools I used:


That’s it!

Why not take one of your favourite photos and experiment with this technique? Feel free to link your work in the comments below or in the Hand Lettering HQ facebook group.

If you have any questions, comments or tips, please share them below.

Happy Hand Lettering! 😀

– Emma


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