How to Digitize Images for Embroidery

Embroidery designs have come a long way from simple geometric shapes and lettering. Today, embroidery artists can digitize nearly any image to create stunning embroidered pieces. The process of digitizing images for embroidery involves several key steps.

Select a high-quality image

Choose an image with fine details, rich colors, and clear lines that will translate exceptionally well to embroidery. Photos, illustrations, logos, portraits, and more can work brilliantly. Avoid images with blurry edges, subtle gradients, or low resolution. For the best results, select an image with a minimum of 300 dpi.

digitize artwork for embroidery

Resize and crop the image

Carefully resize the image to the desired embroidery size and crop as needed using the rectangular marquee tool or lasso tool. It is far easier to enlarge an image for embroidery than reduce it while preserving quality. Leave at least 1 inch of extra space around the edges of the final design. This allows for adjustments to the stitching lines and prevents clipping important details.

Convert the image to black and white

Use a high-end image editing software’s advanced tools to convert the image to black and white in a way that retains all nuance and subtlety. Adjust the threshold sliders to precisely control which areas become black and which become white. With some experimentation, you can achieve a high-contrast black and white effect that is perfect for embroidery.

Trace the image

Apply a lightbox or use the tracing tools to carefully trace the outlines of the image. Trace all lines, shapes, edges, and details of the design. Use the pen tool or brush tool to connect any breaks and ensure all areas are fully enclosed. Eliminate any excess lines or traces outside the main image.

Add embroidery details

Employ additional tracing, drawing tools, or the patch tool to add embroidery-specific details including stitching lines, density markings, pattern fills, or patchwork pieces. Add comprehensive notes or labels to specify different embroidery stitches, threads, needles, and any other important information for creating your design.

Save the design

Save the digitized embroidery design file in a format such as PDF, JPG, or SVG that can be read and stitched using embroidery software or a sewing machine. Your digitized design is now prepared to be expertly embroidered!