How to Turn a Line Drawing of Your Dog into a Custom Vinyl Sticker in 5 Steps (or 1)
My town (Nanaimo) seems to love stickers. Especially on cars. And we definitely love our dogs. So naturally I’ve gotten a few requests to make custom vinyl stickers of pets, and needed to find some way to get my line drawings into sticker form!
Since there are some technical issues with turning an ink sketch into a vinyl decal, in this post I’ll go through some of the steps I take to get from pen to peeling. We’ll go through how I create a vector and how to tweak and polish the image point by point. The result? A beautiful custom dog sticker using just Adobe Illustrator and a Cricut Vinyl Cutter.
If you’d like all the wow of your own custom sticker without the expense of the tools, you can also just get me to make you one.
Otherwise, read on!
Step 1: Use Illustrator's Live Trace to Get the Dog Drawing into Sticker Format
Illustrator has a pretty handy built-in tracing function that makes short work of vectorizing a simple image like a black-and-white drawing.
But the image I get from this won’t work as a sticker… it has too many tiny lines that would just disintegrate if I tried to cut them out of vinyl.
Step 2: Simplify Geometry, Remove Small Shapes and Check Line Thickness
Getting the drawing from “traced” to “sticker-ready” means going through by hand and simplifying the geometry—or getting the dots under control, as I think of it.
That will never cut properly. All those tiny flappy bits would just get mangled by the cutting blade at the sizes I work with.
Now, when I’m done this step the drawing is smoother and the lines that remain are thicker. Where possible, I’ve also connected lines together.
Taking these steps makes the sticker much easier to apply to a car or laptop!
Step 3: Invert and Remove the Outline around the Dog Sticker
But now we have a new problem: I’ve been working on a white background, but the sticker we eventually want will be white with a dark background.
In order to make this look right, I’m going to have to make an inverse image and do some more editing.
Basically, I need to remove the outline so in the Cricut Cutter, the black area will be what’s cut out of my white vinyl to make the dog sticker.
Save the whole thing as an .svg file, upload the piece to Cricut’s Design Space, and away we go!
Step 4. Cut and Peel the Dog Sticker out of Your Vinyl
Now it’s ready to cut!
Once the vinyl cutter has done it’s work on the new dog decal, I can peeeeeel out the lines around my sticker. Then I’ll apply a clear transfer material.
Step 5: Apply your Custom Dog Decal!
Et Voilá! We have a beautiful white vinyl dog sticker, made from a hand-drawn sketch of a German Shepherd.
This exact German Shepherd Sticker is now available in my Vinyl Shop, with more coming soon!
Thanks for reading,
Pet Portrait Artist