I am currently working on a logo. I draw it by hand with a brushpen and really liked the rough edges, ink density variation and the grain of the end of the strokes of this lettering, but the shapes were not perfect. I scanned it, vectorized the different shapes by hand, fixed them to my taste and it's perfect right now.

Too perfect I would say. The lines are smooth and the fill is dead.

I want to get the best of both worlds:

  • the perfect shapes of the vectorized/retouched version
  • the grain, ink imperfections and edges of the handmade version.

I thought about some strategies to get that but it did not work.

  • print the logo only with outlines (opacity 10%) and draw over the print then rescan it...

  • create rough edges and fill the shapes with a texture of a scanned brushpen long stroke...

What I really need, is a method to force the wanted texture into the strokes of the fixed lettering paths. Let's say I draw some nice long brushpen strokes on a grainy paper. Then I scan them. How do I tranform them to strokes in my lettering?

This is what I have, custom handmade stroke with perfect style, and a smooth vectorized lettering: This is what I have, custom handmade stroke with perfect style, and a smooth vectorized lettering

This is what I want, perfect shape but with the grain and imperfections of a natural handwritten stroke: This is what I want, perfect shape but with the grain and imperfections of a natural handwritten stroke

Is there a method to recover the style of a imperfect handmade stroke for my vectorized smooth logo? Any method is welcome. Thanks!


2 Answers 2


Well, if I wanted the best of both worlds, vector and raster, I'd use both Illustrator and Photoshop.

First to roughen your outlines in Illustrator. Select your text, and in the appearance panel, click the FX button and click Distort and Transform > Roughen.

Screen shot: Apply Roughen FX

The idea here is to roughen the outlines just a touch to make them uneven like this:

Roughened outlines

Then save your AI document. Next Open up Photoshop, and click File > Place Linked - and choose the Illustrator AI file you made. This will create a Smart Object in Photoshop, which can be edited or rescaled whenever you want - thus retaining the advantage of vectors.

In Photoshop, hit the Layer Effects "FX" icon. Go through the following settings and apply them all as close as you can.

  1. First make sure the Blending Options are set to screen.

Blending Options

  1. Next, add Bevel and Emboss

Bevel and Emboss

  1. Then Contour


  1. Texture - choose the "Grey Granite" texture in the dropdown


  1. Satin


  1. Colour Overlay

Colour Overlay

Here's the result

Screenshot of Resulting Style

The beauty of this is that the original artwork is still editable. If you want to change the vectors, double click the Smart Object in the layers panel and it will open in Illustrator. You can edit the roughen effect there, since it's non-destructive.

If you want to rescale the image in Photoshop, simply hit CTRL+T - and resize it, and because it's vector, it won't degrade.

If you want to save some time, I've saved the Style preset for Photoshop here: http://www.filedropper.com/goldtexturepaint - be quick if you want it, don't know how long the file will stay up.


Scan a real stroke that you consider good for your text. Clean the scanning result in Photoshop. I have done it for your example stroke. There was much noise on the white. I selected the solid looking part by The quick selection tool and pasted it into a new layer. There I shortened the nearly constant solid black part only to have a shorter sample.

Paste your cleaned stroke image to Illustrator and Live trace + Expand it. You can search proper live trace options by checking the preview on.

I selected BW scan, 6 colors, min area = 5pix, fit to path accuracy = 2 pix, ignore white

Here's the live trace result:

enter image description here

The traced stroke shape was moved into Brushs panel. 2 different art brushes was created. One that scales the width if the whole shape do not fit to length and the other that do not scale the width, but compresses the length.

A few J's was drawed by free hand. Note, how the drawing direction affects.

Note: A text with the new stroke can't be scaled before expanding the shape.

For a plausible result you should carefully think, where a new stroke should start from and what's the direction. You should have prepared the brushes for different lengths.

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