How to Make Vinyl Decals and Stickers

Angie Renner
Published by
Last updated: August 21, 2022

Are you interested in how to make vinyl decals and stickers for the first time? Wondering where to start? Take a look at this step-by-step guide that covers how to make vinyl decals from home!

If you’re interested in making decals for the first time, you might be wondering where to start. Thankfully, creating, printing, and cutting your decals from home is easier than you might think. All you need are the right tools and a bit of practice, and you’ll be creating beautiful stickers in no time.

We’ll give you a step-by-step guide on how to make vinyl decals, as well as some information about how you can monetize your new skill.

How to Make Vinyl Decals Step-by-Step Guide

If you’re wondering how to make vinyl decals, you probably don’t have too much experience with printable vinyl. Don’t worry! It’s rather straightforward. You’ll need the following to make sure you’re ready to print and place, though:

  • A computer to choose and edit your design
  • A scanner to scan an existing design or one that you’ve drawn
  • A printer to print the design on your vinyl decal sheet
  • Laminate or enamel to add durability to your stickers
  • A vinyl cutter to cut the decals once you print them
  • A set of hobby knives to smooth out the edges of your vinyl decals

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Create Your Design

Creating the design is the easiest (and often most enjoyable) part of creating vinyl stickers. Before you can create stickers, you need to figure out what you want your stickers to look like.

You can use an existing design by saving it onto your computer, create an original design on a photo editing software, or draw your design from scratch. No matter what you decide, you’ll need a photo editing software to set up the page before printing.

If you’re making vinyl decals for your business, take careful consideration while making logos and designs. Most of the time they’ll need to be 100% original if you want to avoid the potential of a cease and desist.

Place Your Decals on One Page

When printing vinyl decals, you’ll want to make as many as you can at one time. The vinyl paper is costly, and having a bunch of blank space on a page will cost you a lot of money in the long-run. If you plan on making decal printing a regular hobby or business, you’ll soon learn you always need to get the most out of a vinyl sticker sheet.

Before you print, use your editing software to do a print preview. A different software might call it something other than “print preview,” but make sure all your decals are on one page before you print.

Doing a print preview will also give you the opportunity to make any last-minute changes. Sometimes, the color changes a bit from the computer to the final product. Previewing will give you the chance to correct these flaws.

There should be an outline on your page that will show you all the decals that will fit on your final printed sheet. Most of the time, you’ll see this expressed through a dotted line around the border of the page.

Since printable vinyl is so expensive, you’ll want to ensure that all of your decals fit within this space. If a few are sticking out, you’ll have that many fewer stickers on your printed sheet. If you see that a few are cut off by the border, go back into your editing software and make a bit more space for them.

Print the Decals

Now, all you have to do is insert your vinyl paper into the printer and print. It’s sometimes a good idea to run a test print using a regular sheet of paper, just to make sure you’re printing on the correct side. People don’t print much these days, and it’s understandable to forget which way your pages should face.

If you end up printing your decals on the wrong side, it shouldn’t be much of a problem. Learning how to make vinyl decals is a process. A vinyl paper is expensive, but you don’t have to worry about whatever’s on the other side of the stickers. Turn the page over and print again once you’re ready.

Add Durability to Your Decals

If you plan on placing your decals indoors, you can skip this step. You don’t need to add much durability to decals that you won’t expose to the elements.

If you want to put decals on anything that will go outside, though, you need to add an additional layer. The sun alone will quickly cause your decals to fade, and precipitation will only accelerate the process. Untreated decals will last one or two rainstorms at the most.

The best thing you can buy to treat your decals is laminate paper. Be careful while applying this sheet, though, because if you leave air bubbles on your stickers, they won’t meet the quality and standards you likely desire.

First, peel the adhesive layer of the laminate paperback. Carefully place it on top of your decals, with the top edge clinging to the table. Use a squeegee or hard ruler to press the decals as you pull the back layer of the laminate away.

With this strategy, you’ll limit the possibility of air bubbles appearing in your decals. It might take a couple of attempts before you make a perfect sheet of stickers, but you’ll eventually get the hang of this process.

Laminate paper can be expensive, though, and hobbyists might not want to spend extra money on professional level stickers. But if you need to save some money and effort, you can use clear enamel to protect your stickers from the elements.

Laminate will work better than enamel, but enamel does the job well enough for most people. The difference in quality isn’t as much as the difference in price, so try both and see if enamel will serve your needs.

Cut Your Decals

Now, you’ve reached the final step in how to make vinyl decals: cutting. The best tool you can use for cutting is a hobby knife, but a razor blade will suffice if you can’t find one.

Place your designs on a flat surface, and grab yourself a metal ruler. The ruler will make sure that you’re always cutting in a straight line. Scissors give far too much variance, and there’s a strong chance you’ll end up with uneven sides.

Press down hard on the ruler as you cut to prevent it from slipping. If you have smaller stickers, cut them into sections before using scissors to make the final, small cuts.

If you want, you can always cut your designs into the exact shape with scissors. Be careful if this is your first time, however. You may end up jeopardizing the aesthetic of the sticker if you fiddle with it too much.

Monetize Your Designs

Dollars

If you want to get serious about vinyl cutting, there are ways you can start and grow a business in the space of sticker printing.

Getting started is as easy as printing and cutting some designs at home. Once you get better at the process, you can start upgrading your equipment and selling designs to online and local businesses.

Once you find the market for your designs, you can start creating a business off of the back of your vinyl cutting skills. There are online vinyl cutting businesses and offline vinyl cutting businesses, and it’s up to you to decide which one to make.

Online Vinyl Cutting Business

An online vinyl cutting business is usually the most viable option for most people. It will start as a side business, and if you’re lucky, it could grow to become your main source of income.

An online business means you have the opportunity to gain followers and customers while you are out doing something else. You don’t have to be present to grow your business, and the customer base is virtually unlimited.

Having an online presence is a fantastic idea, even if you grow to the point where you want to create a brick and mortar store. You can build your customer base with each design, and your fans will easily be able to share your work with their friends.

Offline Vinyl Cutting Business

These days, it’s silly not to have an online presence in one form or another. This presence may be as simple as a blog from a free hosting website. It’s an easy way to reach potential customers, and you should consider building an online presence even if your end goal is a physical location.

The best way to grow your physical vinyl cutting store is to search for clients who need designs created for them. Find out what they’re looking for, make the design, and see what they say. Creating a physical location will bring you a ton of local business, but you still have to work for it.

Designing for a Passion or Profit

Learning how to make vinyl decals is relatively easy, whether you’re aiming at creating a business off of your vinyl designs or want to make a cool logo for your band. Follow these steps, practice, and you’ll be able to create fun, engaging designs without making too many mistakes.

Final Thoughts on How to Make Vinyl Stickers

When you inevitably make a mistake on how to make vinyl decals, don’t get discouraged. Designing and cutting vinyl takes practice, and you probably won’t be thrilled with your first few rounds of stickers. Stick with it (pun intended), and each design will be better than the last.

While you can have someone make custom stickers for you, more often than not, there will be inputs from that company, or person, that will go into that final sticker design. That’s not necessarily bad, but if you’re only starting small and with a few designs, it’s a good opportunity to learn how to make your own vinyl stickers.

From there you can choose to add other skills and tools to your arsenal if you find that you can actually make some money out of it; like learn how to make die cut vinyl stickers, car decals, logo stickers, and many more. The possibilities are endless!

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