Easy Guide on How to Make Vinyl Decals

So you want to know how to make vinyl decals?

You have come to the right place.

I’ve created this guide so you can create your own vinyl decals in minutes. Here’s my promise to you: by reading it to the end, you will know exactly what and how to do to have your cool perfect decals.

Better yet, I’ve chopped up the whole process into small steps, easy to digest steps. There’s no guesswork. All you have to do is follow the steps in sequence.

Look:

I know it’s not easy to start something new. As a matter of fact, everything is hard at first. However, if you keep at it, then it will become easy.

Typically there’s a ton of guesswork and many hours of trial and error involved. You can call yourself lucky since you found this blog. I’ve done the heavy lifting for you, so there are only a few simple to follow steps to do.

Before we dive deep into this beginner’s guide, we need to decide what we are making.

Vinyl Decals vs. Stickers Explained

There’s only one important difference between stickers and vinyl. Stickers are created on printable vinyl. Other than that, it is the same procedure.

Vinyl decals are typically single-colored, while stickers are full spectrum. There’s an important point to remember. You can have multi-colored decals. For this, you will have to layer the colors. It’s almost as if you were doing screen printing.

It’s not an easy task, and your precision has to be spot on. If you don’t want to dabble with it, then you can stick with single-colored vinyl or use stickers. To create cool looking stickers, you will need a quality printer and more on this a bit later.

What can you do with vinyl decals and stickers?

I remember a few years back when Assassin’s Creed was the craze. You couldn’t walk into a Starbucks without seeing a laptop decorated with the logo. There’s a big market for customizing gadgets. All you have to do is keep an eye on the trends.

Besides phones, tablets, and laptops, many things can be customized with vinyl. I have a friend who went overboard. Even her husband’s socks couldn’t escape this fever, and that’s another story.

You can decorate and personalize the following:

  • Toys can be a fun activity with kids. These include: RC cars, models,
    trucks, tanks, planes
  • If you love labeling, then this is the easiest way to label your drawers and
    storage compartments
  • Car fanatics love to customize their rides, and you can help them with some
    cool decals
  • Also, there are the typical promotional and gift items like mugs, bottles,
    and packaging

As you can see, there are so many things to do. If you can tap into a passionate market like gamers or car lovers, you can make a nice side hustle out of your passion.

Ok, so you can do all these things. Now how do you get started?

Yes, we’re getting to that. Here are two rules I live by.

Rule #1: Make space so you can work. If not, you will be losing a lot of time putting things left and right.

Rule #2: Have the right tools for the job. With the bad ones, you are wasting time and energy, and the results will be poor.

Quick shopping list for the necessary tools

Optimal Investment:

Vinyl Cutter Bundle with Design Software

Inject Printer for sticker making

Printable Vinyl

Tool Kit

Minimum Investment:

Design Software

Vinyl

X-Acto Knife

Cutting Mat

Transfer Tape

Tool Kit

I prefer the optimal investment option because it saves me a lot of time and headaches. Let’s say you have to create a vinyl sign. It will take ages to cut out the interior of the letter “p” or “g” and it might not be that smooth. This is why I highly recommend getting a vinyl cutting machine. It’s fast and precise.

Let’s get started with this vinyl decal making business.

Step 1: How to create the Decal Design

I’ve picked the Cricut Explore Air 2 as the vinyl cutter. It has many things going for it. The design software, which is called Cricut Design Space, is the most user-friendly software I had worked with.

There’s only a minimal learning curve involved. It’s so easy and intuitive that anybody can get the hang of it.

For starters, I would recommend going with a simple design. You can complicate it later on. Let’s get an early win, shall we?

The easiest shape for a vinyl decal is either a logo or a sign. Even if the Cricut Design Space looks simple, there are many customization options to choose from. The software comes with many built in fonts. If you have a shape you want to apply to a surface, you can import it and resize it to your liking.

If you’re making a more sophisticated sticker, you will need design software like Adobe Photoshop, or if you prefer something free, there’s Canva. After you’re happy with how the sticker came out, print it with the printer.

I got burned by printers so often that I swore I will never get a money-hungry one ever again. Fast forward a few years, and Epson came out with the Eco tank design. There are no more overpriced unhackable cartridges. Finally, I’ve found a printer ink is as cheap as tap water.

I’ve had my Epson printer for a couple of years now and printed a few thousand pages. A few months back, I had to fill it up with black ink. This ink came with the package, so yes, this is a real workhorse.

The only drawback of these Eco tank printers is that they are more expensive than the other highway robber printers. Maybe they seem a bit clunkier than HP. Other than that, it’s worth the money.

For this, you will need a printable vinyl. Make sure you import this printed file into Cricut Design Space because you have to give the outlines for the cutting.

Step 2: How to pick the right vinyl

The choice is fairly straight forward. If you’re creating stickers, you will need printable vinyl. For decals depends on the colors you are using.

For example, if you’re decorating a mug, simple color or a sparkling one is enough. If you want to do something more elaborate, you will have to layer the colors. I highly recommend doing the simpler versions first.

Step 3: How to cut your design

Suppose you don’t have an electronic cutting machine, then you will be in a world of pain until you finish cutting with scissors and X-acto knife hours if not a day passes. Meanwhile, the vinyl cutting machine can do the same job in a matter of minutes. It’s fast, precise, and painless.

Cricut Design Space is not just designed software. It handles the cutting job as well. Depending on the material, you have to adjust the cutting depth and strength.

Luckily Cricut thought about that as well. You don’t need a rocket science diploma to get the job done. The numbers are already in the software. All you have to do is choose the material and load the blade in the cutter.

The next step is sticking the vinyl on the cutting mat. Make sure that there are no bubbles because it might destroy the cut for this, use the squeegee.

After everything is ready, hit cut. In a matter of minutes, you should have your design done.

Step 4: How to weed the excess material

This part is the most inglorious part of the process. You have to remove all the excess material. If you have the tool kit, then it’s time to warm up those picks and tweezers. Stickers are the easiest because they typically don’t need weeding. All you have to do is peel them off.

With vinyl decals, you have to remove every unwanted bit. This is where most time is wasted. Sadly there’s no easy way. You just have to work through it.

Step 5: How to use transfer tape correctly

We’re almost there. Bear with me.

After the vinyl decal is cleaned up, it’s time to transfer it to the desired object. For this, we need to use the transfer tape.

Cut out a piece of the transfer tape, which should be the same size as the vinyl you want to apply.

Now you have to press it down firmly on the vinyl. Then grab your trusty squeegee and push all the air bubbles out. Double and triple check so that there are none left.

We’re almost home free. It’s time to peel off the vinyl with the transfer tape.

Step 6: How to apply it on the surface

Before you go ahead and apply it to the surface, make sure it’s clean. As you know, dust, grease, and fingerprints might deteriorate the decal that it won’t stick and peel later on.

The next step is applying the transfer tape with the vinyl on the desired surface. Rely on your trusted squeegee to do the job properly.

Again make sure that there are no air bubbles. After you have applied the transfer tape, slowly and gently remove the transfer paper. You are done.

Congrats, you just created your very first vinyl decal. It wasn’t that hard, was it?

Of course, this whole process can be complicated, and why bother? Create it and sell it, so the client comes back for more. Following these simple steps, I know that you will be able to create your own vinyl decals with ease.

Closing thoughts on how to make vinyl decals

This article is meant for you to learn how to make vinyl decals. It might seem daunting in the beginning. Some people might be afraid of messing up. Here’s a famous quote fear disappears after the action.

You will need some experience under your belt, and this can only be earned by doing.

Just like with any skill, the more you do, the better you will get. I hope you learned a lot from my vinyl making article. If you like to, you can send me some of your designs; I might create a post to showcase them.

This would be the end of my guide. Create amazing vinyl decals, and see you next time. Until then…

Happy Crafting!

Last Updated on January 8, 2021 by Emily