Embroidery Digitizing at a Glance

Digitizing designs isn’t as easy as it sounds. You may come across this service if you’re an avid embroiderer and want to turn an image into an embroidery pattern, or you may have even considered making the switch to the career of the digitizer, either way, we’ll take a look at what this type of service entails and how digitizing designs actually works.

If you’ve ever ordered custom embroidery, then you’ve probably heard the term embroidery digitizing. So what is it? This type of digitizing involves the process of converting your art into a type of stitch file which can be read by an embroidery machine because it’s been converted into stitch types.

How to Prepare a Design for Digitizing

The first step in this process is analyzing the design in order to determine if it needs to be edited for embroidery. Not every design is meant for embroidery. Many designs have to be simplified. When a design is assessed, the digitizer must resize it and some elements may need to be eliminated, such as outlining. Text size may also need to be adjusted.

After a design’s graphics have been modified, the file is opened up in an embroidery program. In this program, the design is used as a template for creating a stitch file. The digitizer will first need to decide how the design’s pathing must run. When we say pathing, we’re referring to the sequence of the stitches in the design from the beginning to the end of the process. Pathing can have a major impact on how a finished design lies. If the wrong pathing technique is used, a design can have uneven texts or gaps. Pathing will also affect the amount of time a design runs through an embroidery machine. While the running time may not seem important, a smoother, shorter design will end up costing you less.

The next step in this process involves assigning stitch types to each section of a design. This is based on finding the right type of stitches to represent the design. The digitizer will begin by inserting the underlay stitches. While you won’t be able to see the underlay stitches when a design is finished, having the right underlay is essential to the final look of the design. The underlay will help to stabilize the fabric to the backing.

It will also lay down the fabric’s nap so that any remaining stitches will have a nice, clean surface to embroider on. An underlay can also work to add density to a design. Using the wrong underlay can also cause stitches to sink too far into the fabric, or the fabric can show through the design.

Key Job of a Digitizer: While there are only a few basic types of stitches used: fill, satin, and run, there are plenty of variations to these types of stitches. As an example, the fill stitch is used to cover larger areas, but the digitizer will need to determine the type of fill stitch to use, where the fill should begin and stop, and the direction of the fill.

Turning Art into Embroidery Designs

When the digitizer is making these decisions, they’ll also need to consider the type of fabric to use and make any needed adjustments. The stitches can sink into certain fabrics, such as fleece, or they will lay on the surface of some fabrics such as nylon. Designs that were originally digitized for tougher materials, won’t look as great if they’re embroidered on fleece, which as we mentioned, can cause the stitches to sink.

Push and pull is yet another important aspect of embroidery. Designs can move when they’re being embroidered, causing stitches to shift. This type of shifting often occurs when using long stitches, bulky fabrics, or with a tight bobbin thread, or longer thread areas. The digitizer will be responsible for considering all possible effects of push and pull for each design and must make any necessary adjustments in order to anticipate any issues.

How a Digitizer Works

While many small designs are fairly easy to digitize, designs that feature smaller texts, fine detail and plenty of color changes will definitely require more set up time. This type of technique is a careful process that will require lots of time and experience.  A digitizer must know how the stitches she sees when using the embroidery software program will play out on different types of fabrics. A design that’s well digitized will enhance the look of the design.

How the Embroidery Digitizer sees the Whole Picture

Digitizing any image will require an artist’s ability to see the whole picture and the smallest details. An experienced digitizer will need to mentally dissect every image, breaking it out into layers and sections and noting how each of the sections will relate to each other. They will also need to consider how the colors will merge and blend and how the shadows will play with the light in order to create the right type of atmosphere or mood that an image evokes.

Sometimes, digitizing a design to thread just isn’t feasible or possible. The thread is 3D, it’s not like digital pixels or oil paint. The digitizer must possess the creativity of an artist and their problem-solving skills. Their canvas is the computer and their pallet is the software program that makes this transition possible.

As we briefly touched on earlier, a digitizer’s work isn’t just confined to their computer. They must possess extensive knowledge regarding the push and pull factors and fabric types. They’ll also need to know about stabilizers, thread, needles and the creative boundaries of machine embroidery.

The most recent software used in this field will allow the digitizer to create more complex embroidery designs. This exciting work allows anyone to create unique embroidery designs for personal or business use. In fact, many companies will have their logos digitized and embroidered on clothing, hats and other types of accessories. Embroidery digitizing is also the perfect option if you have a home business and enjoy drawing your own designs but don’t have the skills that a digitizer possesses.