As an avid sticker fan, I have always loved designing and creating my own stickers with vinyl. Luckily, it is a relatively easy process once you learn the basic technique. At first vinyl seems limiting since you can only cut one color at a time, but multicolored stickers can always be created through a simple layering process. You can use as many colors as you’d like, but the process is harder with more colors.

For this tutorial I decided to create a sticker using an awesome poster my good friend Jacob designed for his college radio station. This design is perfect for a beginner because it only incorporates two different colors. It also has an intricate pattern that showcases the versatility of vinyl cutting.  

tunnel vision copy

Using his Illustrator file, I made some slight alterations to prepare it for vinyl cutting. First, I had to make the circles wider. Vinyl cutters are somewhat limited when it comes to cutting thin strips, so widening the circles helps the small pieces come out more smooth and clean cut. Second, I removed the gradient from the center of the image. As you would expect, vinyl cutters can only create solid color designs. Lastly, I formed the words out of solid letters. The final file I created still retains the overall design of the poster and is also much easier to transform into a sticker.  

tunnel vision copy3

Once the alterations were complete, I cut the design out of a white vinyl and transfered it on to a black vinyl.

I made this sticker about 6 inches wide, but you can always adjust your design file to whatever size you would like. In most cases, making a larger sticker is easier because the individual pieces are not as difficult to manage.

final sitcker

artsy sticker

Project Steps

Gather tools and supplies

Tools and materials are listed above in the right-hand sidebar

Prepare your vector file

Create your design as a vector file.

The vinyl cutting program I used was Sure Cuts a Lot Pro. For this program, it worked much better when I changed the design to outlines using Illustrator. This way, all of the circles maintained their thickness.

Cut white layer on vinyl cutter

Cut the white layer, making sure to adjust the speed and pressure of the vinyl cutter so that the thin circles don’t lift and get caught in the moving blade.

One way to prevent this is to lower the speed but increase the pressure of the blade.

Remove excess vinyl

This process, called weeding, is where you remove the excess vinyl but keep all the pieces of your final design in place.

At this point a lot of the smaller pieces (like the period in .com) will move very easily. Make sure to remove the excess very carefully with the X-ACTO blade and use the tweezers to hold the desired pieces in place.

Apply transfer paper

Lay the transfer paper on top of the design and use a squeegee or credit card to smooth it against the vinyl.

The transfer paper will adhere to the design so you can place it on black vinyl.

Transfer onto black vinyl

Using the squeegee, press the white design onto the black vinyl.

Transfer words

Use the same process and transfer the words over. You can also put the words in with the design and cut them both at the same time.

Stick your sticker on something awesome