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footprintsPlanning ahead for Mother or Fathers Day?  Need a personalized gift for a loved one?  How about using your child's hand or footprints in a DIGITAL craft project?!  This tutorial will show you how to digitize your child's hand or footprint and create a work of art you can print permanently on a Shutterfly mug, iPhone case, plate or candle holder.  There are lots of websites that will personalize items, you just need to supply the creative images!  How about instead of putting pictures of your child on a mug, what if you digitized their footprints in the shape of a heart to say, "I heart grandpa"?!?  For my daughter's grandpas for Fathers Day we did just that, and it was a hit!  Here's how...

Step 1: Create Hand/Footprint

Using a dark color paint, preferably black, and white paper, help your child make their hand print.  Make sure there is at least a 1/2 inch of extra white space around the hand print.  If you want to create a heart shape out of 2 footprints, make sure that the footprints are close together in the shape of a heart when you create the footprint.  That way, you won't have to do any digital manipulation of the image to move things where you want.  Let the print dry so you don't get a glare in your picture in step 2.

Step 2: Take a Picture of the Hand/Footprint

With your cell phone camera (or any other camera), take a picture of the handprint.  Make sure to get a very clear photo and get as close as you can to the handprint while still capturing the white edge in the photograph.  Try to straighten the paper as best you can so that you can crop the background (in my case, the kitchen table) out of the picture.  If your paper is tilted, you may not be able to crop out the entire background and leave only the white background behind.

Step 3: Using a Photo-Editing Program, Crop the Image

With a photo editor, crop the image so all you see is the white paper and the handprint.  You can do this in Photoshop (if you have it).  Pixlr is a great free tool on the web.  There are also lots of great apps.  For this tutorial, I will focus on Pixlr because it is free, but I will add in tips for Photoshop users.  You may need to rotate your image (go to IMAGE > Rotate).  Use the crop tool (roll over the toolbar and it will reveal the name of the tool), outline the part of your image you want, and double click to crop.

Step 4: Make it Black & White

If you are using Photoshop, you can make the image black and white by going to the IMAGE menu, then ADJUSTMENTS, then choose BLACK & WHITE.  If you are using Pixlr, go to ADJUSTMENT, then DESATURATE.  If you are using an app on your phone or iPad, look through the options, there's always one for black and white.  

Step 5: Change the Contrast & Brightness

In this step, we need to make the handprint as dark as possible and the background as white as possible.  

Go to ADJUSTMENTS > BRIGHTNESS & CONTRAST.  The first time I changed the brightness and contrast, I increased the contast to 100 and the brightness 0.  Click OK.  You will need to change the brightness and contrast several times in order to make the image black and white and not gray.  

Open the Brightness & Contrast tool again.  The second time, I increased the contrast to 100 and the brightness to 20.  This helped to get closer to a pure white background.  The third time, I increased the contrast to 100 and decreased the brightness to -30.  This made my handprint black.  The last time, I increased the contrast to 100, then decreased the brightness to -10.  This was for good measure.  You may have different settings, so play around.  If you used black paint, you may not have that much work to do! :)


Step 6: Fill with the Color of your Choosing

If you are using Photoshop, you will want to use the magic wand tool to select the white background.  Make sure the layer is unlocked and delete the background.  Then double click on the hand print layer in the Layers panel.  Go to Color Overlay and choose a color.  Pixlr does not have a Color Overlay function, so we will use a work around.  It isn't perfect, but it is pretty good.

If you are using Pixlr, select the paint bucket tool in the tool bar.  At the bottom of the tool bar, click on the color palette and choose the color you'd like to make your handprint.  Click on the handprint to fill it in with color.  If your paint bucket didn't fill it in completely and you see a little black left, click on the paint brush tool and paint over the black spots.  You may need to zoom in if you want to be precise.

Step 6: Add Text (Optional)

If you would like to add text to your image, you probably need to make the canvas bigger to make room for the text.  In Pixlr, go to IMAGE > CANVAS SIZE.  Make sure the center square is selected so your canvas enlarges from the center, not one side.  Choose a number of pixels larger than than the current canvas size.  You may need to choose a number, press ok, see how it looks, then undo if it doesn't look like the right size.  

Select the Text tool (the letter "A" on the toolbar).  Choose your color first.  Then click anywhere to begin to type whatever you want.  Change the font and click ok.  Then use the Arrow tool from the toolbar to move your text where you want.  You may need to click directly on a letter to grab the text to make it move.

You did it!

You've successfully digitized a hand print!  Make sure to save your image as a jpeg.  Then you can upload it to Shutterfly to use on a mug or other personalized gift!

This technique can also be used to digitize lots of things.  I've done this many times to digitize signatures.  See my example here (this is my husband's blog; the logo is his handwriting).  

Let me know if I can help!  If you have a special graphic project you need help with, hire me!  That's our family business! :)