So many dots. Where to begin?
If you use stippling in your lettering artwork and need to digitize those pieces, eventually, you may run into a problem. For those not familiar with the term -- stippling is a painstaking process of creating value or dimension with individual dots. While stippled pieces can be beautiful, how on earth can you expect to select every dot in order to change the color, or anything for that matter? Well, it's actually pretty simple and I'll show you how!
The following is a break-down of my process for selecting stippled portions of lettering. Of course, there may be other ways of accomplishing this, but as I was never taught one, I wanted to share what I found through experimentation. There are only one or two main steps for selecting, but I'll share the project in context for you to better grasp the process. Each visual is numbered in correspondence with its description. Here we go!
Step 1: The piece you start with must be a high quality scan. This is essential to achieve the best results with small embellishments such as stippling.
I am using Adobe CS6. In a new document I have placed my 600dpi scan that I will live trace. In the advanced tab of the live trace panel, you can adjust your settings -- but most importantly, check the box that says "ignore white."
Note: since I spend much time initially inking my piece, live trace offers an extremely clean look. Using live trace is most effective when you have custom settings and extremely clean inking.
Step 2: As seen here, even with my custom live trace settings, I'll still need to adjust the threshold to bring out the proper amount of detail.
Step 3: Once I'm satisfied with the qualities of the stipple with the live trace, I can click expand in the control bar at the top of my screen.
Step 4: Notice how everything has a blue selection outline? After clicking expand, all items are naturally grouped. In order to continue manipulating the piece, we need to ungroup these shapes. You can do this by holding command + shift and pressing G (control + shift for PC).
Step 5: After ungrouping, we need to delete any unnecessary shapes. Unfortunately, live trace will create shapes out of any debris, lines, or shadows from the scan. As you can see, the page border of my scan created a shadow and was turned into an unnecessary shape. To delete these extra shapes, select the direct selection tool and drag a marquee around a portion of the unwanted shape and hit delete a few times.
Step 6: You will notice that deleting one portion may not get rid of everything you want. So look around on the page to find any stragglers and delete them too.
Step 7: When you have deleted all unnecessary shapes you should find that the blue bounding box only includes your artwork. The blue selection should only reach out to include the furthest points of your artwork.
Step 8: Next comes a bit of grouping. Using your selection tool, hold shift and click on shapes (not the stippling) that you want to be one specific color. You should have a bounding box that includes all the shapes you want. Next you will want to group these. Hit command + G (control + G for PC).
Step 9: Let's place that group on its own layer. In your layers panel, click the new layer button. Double click on that layer and name it something pertaining to the selection.
Step 10: In order to quickly move the selection to that layer, click and drag the small colored square up to the new layer you created. Once the selection is on its own layer -- lock it by clicking the space next to the eye in your layers panel.
Note: you must have a selection on your artboard for the colored square to be visible.
Step 11: On to the stippling! As you can see, just clicking on one of the dots ONLY selects that dot. Hence our issue. How can we select every single dot at the same time? The key is in the next step.
Step 12: With one dot selected, in your toolbar, go to select > same > fill color!
Step 13: You will notice that all shapes with that fill color will be selected. This is exactly why we locked the previous shapes.
Note: This process is dependent upon a black and white live trace. Grayscale or color traces will not produce these results.
Step 14: Once you have your stippling selected, pay attention to the swatches at the bottom of your tools panel. You want to see a solid color indicated for the fill. If it shows a question mark, you have selected items with different fills. If this is so, check to see that your newly created layer is indeed locked. Grouping and changing the color of the stippling will only work best with a solid fill indicated in the swatches.
If you see a solid fill, group your selected stippling by hitting command + G (control + G for PC). Then changing the color is up to you!
Step 15: Here you can see that I added another layer below the other two. On this layer I created a shape for the background and gave it a darker fill for the stippling to show up well.
And that's it!
Digitizing your lettering can be daunting since there are many different approaches but I hope this walk-through helps you all with your stippled portions of lettering! Now if you are a smarty-pants and already know how to do this, then just share it with someone you think it could help! Additionally, feel free to comment below -- I'd love to hear from you!