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Hand Drawn Illustrator Tutorials

How to Vectorize Hand Drawn Doodles

August 4, 2015
how to vectorize hand drawn doodles

Happy Tuesday! This week’s tutorial is brought to you by Whitney + Monica who both emailed asking how to vectorize hand drawn doodles so they would have reuseable, and infinitely rescalable vectors. You’ve probably seen vector artwork around a lot lately – I just released a pack of vectors a few weeks ago and gave 5 of them away for free. In this tutorial, using that vector pack as an example, I share how I took those hand drawn elements from a doodle on a sheet of copy paper to a crisp vector that can be used over and over again on any application. Do you remember the how to vectorize hand lettering tutorial? If you’ve practiced that at all, you’ll be in great shape with converting doodles 🙂 In this video, we’ll go over 3 different methods of cleaning up your doodles, so whether you’re a beginner or advanced Illustrator user, there’s an option that will work for you. Let’s get started!

How to Vectorize Hand Drawn Doodles


  • Reply Whitney August 7, 2015 at 1:47 AM

    Thanks! This actually helped a TON. Somehow with the other tutorial I was watching I could not get the things ungrouped and delete the paper background from the scan. This video had a different step in it that totally worked and made me so happy. Now to the long and ‘therapeutic’ process of refining my doodle in illustrator 🙂

    • Reply Teela August 7, 2015 at 9:33 AM

      so happy to hear and glad I could help! haha, yep, definitely ‘therapeutic’ 🙂

  • Reply Gustav Holmström August 11, 2015 at 9:52 AM

    If you have the new fancy Adobe Creative Cloud (rocking CS6 myself) you don’t have to buy a separate app. You just take a picture with your phone (with Adobes app, that is included in CC) and it’s saved as a vector and synced with illustrator on your computer 😀 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0LTzbksUiU

    • Reply Teela August 11, 2015 at 10:17 AM

      Awesome! Thanks for the head’s up!

  • Reply Nicoline August 18, 2015 at 4:41 AM

    You are awesome, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge. They way you explain things is also very good. You kind of tip along the way, on those subjects that I’ve always wondered about how to do it. Such as how to have the anchors act independent of eachother. So glad I found your website! This is the only (of all mailings) newsletter I actually always read too 🙂
    Keep up the good word!

    • Reply Teela August 18, 2015 at 2:53 PM

      Wow, thanks so much, Nicoline – you made my day with this 🙂

  • Reply Kori August 25, 2015 at 9:18 AM

    This is cool! Do you have a tutorial that shows how to turn hand drawn doodles into a repeating illustrator pattern?

    • Reply Teela August 25, 2015 at 11:48 AM

      so funny you ask, and great timing! That’s coming next Tuesday 🙂

  • Reply Dragonfire Graphics August 27, 2015 at 8:55 AM

    Teela, Thank you so much for your wonderful and detailed tutorial! I don’t have illustrator sadly, but I think I should be able to work in Inkscape using most of your tips.

    • Reply Teela August 28, 2015 at 1:07 AM

      Awesome 🙂 I’ve heard from some readers they’ve had great luck using Inkscape as a starting point, so I really hope so! Thanks so much for watching!

  • Reply Kat Freedman September 1, 2015 at 8:37 PM

    Hi Teela!

    This tutorial is so awesome!! I have been wanting to learn to do this with my calligraphy. Question though, when I open up my design into Illustrator none of my letters are separate, and I tried un-grouping and nothing happens. I am trying to smooth out my hand lettered letters and it wont work since I can’t alter each letter separate (there are no points) Any suggestions?! Thanks so much!


    • Reply Teela September 1, 2015 at 11:13 PM

      Hey Kat! Sounds like you haven’t officially live traced them yet – after clicking to live trace your image, make sure you click ‘expand’ and then ungroup – if you skip the ‘expand’ step, you won’t have points. Hope that helps!

  • Reply srishti September 18, 2015 at 3:56 AM

    Hello Teela

    Nice tutorial.. I have been looking for such a tutorial… Have you traced the vectors in paper first then scanned them to edit with photoshop? One more tip i need. Have your traced it with what type of pen in the paper or painted version? Pls guide me in this regard…

    • Reply Teela September 20, 2015 at 6:23 PM

      I usually doodle everything out using a micron on regular printer paper, scan them in, increase contrast in photoshop, then bring into illustrator to vectorize and clean up 🙂

  • Reply sara February 24, 2016 at 9:34 AM

    Hey Teela, when you scan them, what kind of image do you use? (JPG, IMAGE,….? thank you

    • Reply Teela February 24, 2016 at 2:22 PM

      Hey Sara! I scan them in as a high res (usually 300 or 600ppi) jpg

  • Reply Vivian April 14, 2016 at 10:15 AM

    very useful!!!thank you!:)))))

  • Reply grace October 13, 2016 at 7:22 AM

    Very useful! Thank you very much! It can be done in Photoshop, isn’t it? Yes, I know is easyer in Illustrator.
    Have a great autumn!

    • Reply Teela October 14, 2016 at 12:02 PM

      Since Illustrator is a vector-based program and Photoshop is a pixel-based program, vectorization should always occur in Illustrator

  • Reply CC January 13, 2017 at 10:01 AM

    What is the scanner app you mentioned?

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