The background story on this one amuses me. A few of you know that weekends around my house are pretty long. With three little ones and no help, we don’t go anywhere or do anything. Occasionally we’ll attempt to get to church, but with runny noses and a little baby even that hasn’t happened much lately. Basically, we’re inside all day long for two days. I can’t get on my computer to work, because there is always too much going on and too many curious little hands. My iPhone has been a precious companion on these long days. My iPhone is pretty much the only reason I’ve been able to continue working and taking clients with all these babies running around. If it doesn’t happen on my iPhone, it might not happen at all. So, I’ve gotten pretty creative with it, and I’ve come up with ways to do almost everything I need to do, all from my phone.
If you follow me on Instagram, you also know I love inspirational quotes. I also love grabbing a Sharpie marker and just scribbling. Both of these things have helped me during these long days over the past few months. When Instagram started to gain popularity, I figured out that I could fuse these two elements together into a quick inspirational picture, and that my followers actually liked those little scrawlings a lot. I wanted to improve the quotes, and I started trying different techniques. For example, if I snapped the picture under decent light, I learned that I could edit the writing to a crisp black and white.
So, a few months ago, I started wondering if there was a way to do the gold lettering thing without scanning and importing into Illustrator. I started downloading different apps and googling like crazy. I wanted to create an image that was white background, gold lettering, and nothing in between. The first rule of thumb, I knew, was that I had to get a gold background onto my phone somehow. I literally messed with that gold background almost every weekend, and then, finally, I figured out a relatively short process!
It does take a handful of apps, and there is a learning curve. It did take me a couple of months to figure out how to do this all from my phone. But if you’re up for a little on-phone creative session, you’ll need the Camera+ app, the Xphoto app, the Whitagram app, the Dropbox app, and if you don’t like your handwriting and want to use a typestyle instead, the easyTITLER app.
On that note, I’m excited to share with you this tutorial on how to get fancy gold lettering (or any type of patterned lettering, for that matter) images on your iPhone only–you don’t even have to log onto your computer to make this happen!
Step 1 – Backgrounds
Start with a “background”. When I use the word background, I mean that this is the pattern or texture that your letters will take on when you are finished. I’ve created a pack of background patterns you can download from the Etsy shop, including the very on-trend gold. You could use anything you wanted to as a background, though, and you could even take a picture of your own artwork, scribbles, watercolor, or whatever!
Step 2 – Upload to Dropbox
Dropbox is an amazing tool for creatives on the go. If you don’t have a Dropbox account, sign up immediately. Basically, Dropbox allows you to save your images and files to the cloud, so that you can access them from your computer and your phone. I keep a folder in my Dropbox account that has graphics that I use on Instagram and in photo editing apps. From your computer, set up a folder in your Dropbox account and upload the backgrounds to this folder.
Step 3 – Export to Camera Roll
Next, go to the Dropbox app on your phone, and save each background file to your Camera Roll. You can sort them into a new album for easy future access, if you like.
Step 4 – The Non-Handwriting Way
If you want to short cut the process, there is an app called easyTITLER. Open the app, import your selected background, and typeset your thoughts using the easyTITLER interface. Save the final photo back to your Camera Roll, and voila! You’re done. If you want to use your handwriting and get fancy with a Sharpie marker, keep reading.
Step 5 – Sharpie Marker
If you like your handwriting, grab a Sharpie marker and write something inspirational on a white piece of paper.
Step 6 – Camera+
Take a picture of your fancy Sharpie marker handwriting using the Camera+ app. Next, you’ll want to use several of the editing features in Camera+ to produce a more crisp image. You want your handwriting picture to be as close to solid black and true white as possible. To produce this effect in Camera+:
- Under the Scenes tab, select and apply the Text filter.
- Under the Effects tab, select and apply the Black & White filter.
Save the edited photo back to your Camera Roll. (You’ll end up with a lot of photos showing the various stages of your work on your Camera Roll before this is all done. I typically get to the final product and then go delete all the in-process photos off my Camera Roll when I’m done.)
Now you should have two images on your Camera Roll that we’ll use in the next step: your Background image and the hand-lettered image you just created.
Step 7 – Xphoto
Open the Xphoto app. On the initial screen, it will ask you where you want to pull your image from. Select “Photos”, and choose your background image.
From here, it gets a little bit tricky. The app interface isn’t very user-friendly, and I think I’m still figuring out each of the app features, so I’m going to try to be as detailed as possible.
- Next, you need to add the hand lettering layer on top of the background layer. To do this, selected the icon that looks like a rectangle with two arrows above it. It is the third icon over on the bottom of the app.
- A new menu bar will pop up at the top. To add your hand-lettered layer, select the icon that looks like the little landscape mountain picture. This will take you to your Camera Roll. Navigate to your hand-lettered picture and select it.
- The next screen will show your new layer, highlighted with a red box. You can pinch to size your top layer. This pinch-zoom feature is going to come in very handy in just a minute.
- You’ll want to make sure that your hand-lettered image is square, unless you want a border of the background. To make the image a completely white square, I use the Whitagram app before importing it into Xphoto.
- Click the scissors icon at the bottom of the Xphoto app. This will produce a new navigation menu at the top of the app.
- Click on the icon that looks like the letter “C” next to an eraser.
- With your hand-lettered layer selected (highlighted with a red border), zoom into the elements you want to erase–ie, your handwriting.
- Place your finger on the screen and a little cross-hairs navigator will appear. With your finger, move this navigator over the black text that you are trying to erase, and lift your finger to park it there. Wait a few seconds, and the app will erase the black lettering. If your lettering is not true, solid, black, it will produce a spotty result. Keep zooming in and using the cross hairs to erase the tiny specks until you’re happy with the result. Warning: I got frustrated at this point, but I kept at it, and finally got it cleaned up enough to produce the look I wanted.
- You can undo your work by hitting the circle arrow icon, if you erase too much, or if you accidentally erase the white space instead of the black lettering.
- Remember to deselect the little “C” icon by tapping on it once.
- You can zoom out and position your top layer when you are finished.
- Select the box/arrows icon again. To save the final image to your camera roll, click on the icon at the top nav bar that looks like an arrow pointing down into a box.
Step 8 – Instagram!
Upload your new image to Instagram! Use the hashtags and #WhitneyEnglish and tag me @whitneyenglish to showcase your work! Below are some samples that I created to showcase the different effects you can produce using this workflow. Enjoy!