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Making vinyl stickers is fun and easy. With just a few simple tools, you can make vinyl stickers at home as a hobby, to make gifts, or even as a side gig. You may think that you must be artistic to design your own stickers, but that is not the case. Anyone can create them, and today we will show you how.
Before we learn how to design vinyl stickers, let’s first learn about the different types.
What are vinyl stickers?
Vinyl stickers can be adhesive, cling film, or magnetized. What they all have in common is that they are created with flexible vinyl material.
Printable vinyl comes in clear, matte, and glossy. It’s the fastest and easiest way to make stickers since all you need is a computer or tablet, the vinyl sheets, and a printer. Using printable vinyl, you can make stickers of all sizes, from rows of stickers to one large one that is the full 8.5 x 11 size of the sheet. When ready to use, just peel and stick.
Adhesive vinyl is not printable. These sheets come in a variety of colors, textures and finishes. The vinyl is cut into the desired shape, then transferred to the surface with transfer tape. Adhesive vinyl stickers are known more as decals and are used to provide sayings/visuals on décor, mugs, candle holders, signs, etc.
Stickers fall into a wide range of categories. While this blog will focus on printable and adhesive vinyl stickers, you can check out our blogs about how to use a similar design process to make your own magnets and make your own t-shirts.
How to design printable vinyl stickers
There are two ways to design printable vinyl stickers: with your computer or using your own hand-drawn/painted artwork.
The easiest way to design a printed sticker is to start with Word. Word has templates that sync up with label and business card sizes. This way you can create one sticker and use the propagation tool to have that sticker duplicated with exact spacing for easy printing and cutting. Of course, you can use the templates to create a variety of different stickers on the same page too.
To access Word’s templates, click the file link on the main toolbar. On the screen that opens up, click the link on the far-right side that says more templates. From here you can scroll the many pre-set templates or click cards in the suggestion line to quickly access templates that are ideal for stickers. You don’t have to stick with the colors and fonts in the templates either. By clicking on each design element, you can make the changes you need.
Canva and similar programs
To work with templates but have a wider variety of graphics, fonts, layouts, and photos, choose an online program like Canva. Canva’s drag-and-drop templates have both free and paid options. Other templated sites online include Avery and Jukebox.
For old or printed photos, simply scan them into your computer and save as a media file. That means, when the save options come up, select (if it is not already preselected based on your program) a .jpeg, .tiff, or .png extension. Now you can go to the design software of your choice and upload the photo onto your template.
For photos on your phone or other digital device, simply email/transfer/upload them to your desktop/laptop and then import them into your template.
Tips for templated designs
To create striking templated designs, you can use the pre-set fonts, colors, and sizes, or you can tweak them.
- Most design elements will display, when clicked on, a dotted or solid line around it with small squares or circles in the middle of these lines. Use your cursor to hover over the square/circle. The cursor will change to a double-sided arrow. Click down and drag to resize the graphic.
- Hover over the middle of a graphic until your cursor changes to a four pointed arrow. Click down and move the entire image to a new location.
- To duplicate the image, click on it. The outline with squares/circles appears. Now right click on the image and choose copy. This transfers the image to your clipboard. From here you can paste it (right click and paste or Ctrl+V) to other locations on the page. The image stays on the clipboard until you copy another image or block of text.
- Do not run elements of your design over the soft (non-printing) lines on the template. This will “cut off” that part of your design. Ensure the entire design fits inside the template lines with a little white space around it, unless you want to create a bleed edge.
- A bleed edge runs the design over the margin so that the color or graphic has no white space around it. This is not suitable for elements that are important to the design (words, faces, images) but works well for solid colours or photos where the subjects are in the middle and the edges are sky, grass, or fairly empty room.
There is no need to start with a template. If you are a digital artist, a painter, or like to draw, you can start with your medium of choice. Once your masterpiece is complete it can be photographed or scanned, saved as a media file, then printed as a vinyl sticker.
How to design adhesive vinyl stickers
Adhesive vinyl stickers are very popular right now, but before buying that crafty home sign or cheeky mug, think about making your own!
While you can use scissors to simply cut the vinyl, then transfer tape to move and adhere it, adhesive vinyl stickers are best made using a cut file (.SVG, .Studio, .dxf, etc.) and a cutting machines like a CriCut® or Silhouette.
The benefit of using a cutting machine is that they have their own digital programs to help you create the file needed for the cutter. For example, Cricut Design Space™ is preloaded with full projects like signs and cards, has a design screen where you can customize your image, has a variety of stock images, and a virtual cutting mat so you can preview the end result.
To design adhesive vinyl stickers, freehand and save your own cut file, or use a program compatible with your cutting machine.
Tips for adhesive designs
- If the program is running slowly, close other applications that are not in use.
- Consider where your sticker will end up. A patterned design on a patterned background could clash.
- Weeding (removing excess vinyl using a small tool) is a great way to improve the quality of your design. This removes vinyl from spaces such as between curls of fonts or flower petals. It can be time consuming but makes a big difference in the end.
- CriCuit® is compatible with the fonts on your computer, not just the fonts in Design Space™.
- Color Sync (CriCut®) allows you to use the same color across multiple designs. It’s a good way to tie different elements of a large design together.
Experiment and have fun!
The best way to make printable or adhesive vinyl stickers is to just dive in, start experimenting, and have fun. Whether you are new to sticker making or experienced, between templates, free handing, and how easy it is to create digital and cut files, you’ll be able to make quality stickers with any type of design you want.
Royal Elements sells printable sticker vinyl, adhesive vinyl, and more in our online store. We love to see the projects you make using Royal Elements products. Post your results online with the hashtag #royalelementsstickers so we can feature your designs on our social networks (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube). Visit https://www.amazon.com/royalelements and https://www.royalelements.com/ today to learn more.