Turning pictures into a design is a process generally referred to as digitizing. There are software companies out there that advertise that you can import a picture, click a few buttons and bing bang boom – you have a design! There are even a few embroidery machines that claim you can take a picture with the machine and transform it into a design. Well, yes, you can. This is a process called auto-digitizing. Some programs are better at it than others and with a very clean image, they might make a usable design sometimes. Did you catch that “might” and “sometimes?”

I frequently hear this question because someone has a logo that they need to stitch for a friend or customer and they need to get it into the machine. Logos are a particularly challenging kind of artwork. Sometimes your recipient will give you a clear vector image that will help the process along, but often you are working from a .jpg file or a screenshot from a website. To make it more challenging, logos are seldom created with embroidery in mind. I actually created mine with the idea that I would want to digitize it some day, so I kept my shapes relatively simple, limited the number of colors, and chose a chunky font. This is what I got from Bernina, which has a fairly decent autodigitizing function. This really isn’t something that I am going to wear to advertise my business.

Here it is when I put it into a program that exclusively autodigitizes. Ouch.

I have been digitizing for years and I outsource logos to someone who does them all day every day. The amount of precision and skill required to make a design look good at 3 inches takes a level of patience that is just not worth it to me. My time and sanity are worth it!

Logos aside, baby designs are very popular for many digitizers. Here I have a very “clean” image, which for digitizing purposes would mean high resolution and no shading. Super cute for a bib or a onesie, right!?!

I ran it through the autodigitizing in Bernina v8, which actually does a pretty decent job and allows for a little bit of control. To get this, I imported the image and hit convert – easy as pie. This is actually an abnormally great output. I wouldn’t sell it, but I might put it on a quick project.

Look a  bit closer though – I lost all the gills on the fish – those were cute! Zoom in and you start to see more. That handle has some MIGHTY long satin stitches – those are going to snag the first time I wash my item. The area between the reel and the handle has some very odd angles going on. I am going to have loose stitches and tight stitches. All in all, it isn’t TERRIBLE, but I assume if I am taking the time to make this, and using my blanks and thread and stabilizer, I care about the finished product. Why else would I be doing it?

Just for grins, I ran the same artwork through another auto-digitizer, just to see what would happen. It only let me export the first three colors because I was using the demo version. The results speak for themselves. It picked up bits of the blue in the green letters and the edges are rough to say the least.

Here is the same artwork after I manually digitized it. I outlined each “chunk” (called an object in the software) and told the program what kind of stitches it should be, how long they should be, what direction the should run, what goes behind and what goes in front. My end result has a mix of satin stitches and fill stitches, the letters look like they would if you wrote them with a pen and all the details of the fishing rod and reel are there, just based on using different textures and colors.

Now you know creating designs isn’t a matter of clicking a few buttons. Digitizing is a skill that takes practice and skill. Stay tuned to learn more and decide if learning how to create your own designs is a skill you want to learn, or if you would prefer to stitch the many many quality designs available to download. If you are sure that digitizing is what you want to do, I highly recommend Stitch Artist, by Embrilliance. It is a great way to try digitizing at a price that will not break the bank. Check out my carefully digitized designs at A Creative Medley.

I was amazed at how decent the result from Bernina was at turning a picture into an embroidery design, so I experimented with the rest of the clipart in the set. Check out the results HERE.


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