example 1

example 2

Hi everyone. I have been playing around with watercolor and marker lettering lately. I know how to turn them digital in Photoshop while keeping the natural watercolor and permanent marker textures.

I see a lot of watercolor/marker style logos and I was wondering how they were converted to vector while keeping those textures (if so). Whenever I take them into Illustrator, it completely fills the artwork. I am mainly worried about issues with scaling and blurring with Photoshop vs having no restriction to size in Illustrator. Image trace with a high fidelity photo option seems to work, but I wanted to know if there was an alternative I haven't figured out.

Any advice is much appreciated. Thanks.

  • How do you know what you are seeing is vector? There are many, many, many people out there that feel a raster logo is acceptable. In addition to many users who do know care about vector vs raster. – Scott Jul 30 '14 at 2:40
  • I am not sure if it is a vector, hence the (if so). My is, is it possible if it is? I am more concerned with if it is possible due to scaling as stated. – JayK Jul 30 '14 at 2:45

You are right to be concerned about scaling non-vector logos. Most hard-core logo designers would tell you not to use Photoshop for creating a logo at all. Only create vector logos. They can be resized and repurposed at will. Both of your examples could be turned into vectors in Illustrator. The top one would be easier. By careful tracing and using gradients it could be done. You could not preserve every nuance of marker or watercolor originals, but you could create something with the same feel that would be scalable.

One way to do it would be to scan the watercolor or marker illustration in at the highest resolution possible and create a tracing. You would essentially end up with something like a stippled drawing. The vector illustration would be incredibly complex (hundreds of thousands of points and shapes) but you'd be able to reproduce it in one color and then shift that color as desired. I'd imaging the default color being gray (if you want it to look like what you posted above). Printer's would hate this logo file though, way to complex and the shapes would probably bleed together.

Another approach would be to use the watercolor or ink drawing as inspiration and meticulously create a stippling or complex multi-shade illustration.

I would not use transparency in the vector illustration, you might as well use a bitmap if you're going to do that.

You need to diferentiate 2 things, the logo itself and the "accidents" of it. by accidents I mean the texture, the transparency, things that can be or not be there.

The part that should be in vectors is the shape. That is the real logo, that can be used in an engraving a photo book cover, in negative as a watermark, a white version, on hot stamping, etc. (some fo this aplications need a solid logo).

In this case you are worried about an accident, a texture. Ok, it is an important feature, but if the watercolor is a little different it does not matter.

You can make a vector shape and put the texture inside and effects of transparency. Make that texture on the highest resolution posible/viable.

When you scale the vector image you will have sharp edges, probably the texture can become a little pixelated, but again, that is not the important part of a logo.

Take a look at Creaturehouse Expression and its conceptual successors Krita, Illustrator's Live Paint Tool (and brushes), Freehand's Brush paths and similar techniques which will allow you to assign a transparent fill to a vector / path.

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