Vinyl is one of the most flexible materials to work with and gives less amount of creases, typically the main cause for paint leakage.
There are many things you can do with vinyl and one of them is a two-tone decal, which is a great way to get a nice sticker.
What do you need?
First thing to begin with is a two-color design with high contrast and not too many details. You may find it the hard way that gradients are almost impossible to cut. Photoshop filters to the rescue, some may say, but play it safe and simple, especially if you’re new at this.
You also need an X-Acto knife or any other tool that is sharp and great for cutting. Now that we’re in the “sharp zone”, don’t forget about the tweezers with sharp points and the scissors.
The list also includes scotch tape, adhesive-backed colored vinyl color, transfer tape that is strong enough.
The cutting surface may depend on you needs and likes.
Don’t forget about patience. On the other hand, should it be the first one to begin with? 🙂
Step 1: create
Use Photoshop (or whatever fits you better), a nice, interesting design and print it out on paper, in the size you want. Leave a half-inch margin and use it as a template so you may have the right size later on.
If you print out each layer individually, you may combine the two-post cutting onto the same backing using transfer tape. You may also combine the two on the actual surface, as it’s easier.
Step 2: choose the vinyl
As we said before, cut a piece of vinyl a half-inch bigger than your design. You should do it on the cutting surface if you’re handling a curvy piece of vinyl. Sometimes the vinyl is way too curvy though and it’s better not to tape it down, for easier manipulation of the project.
Continue by taping the template to the vinyl as flush and in more than one place. If you end up with a big empty space in the middle, cut a hole and tape also the middle. You may notice how the paper tends to move, so it’s better to use anchor points. It’s easier the remove the template later on if using small pieces of tape.
Step3: Let’s do some cutting!
You may need to put some muscles into it and even get a headache from focusing too much, but it has to be done. You don’t have to do it all in one day and the more complicated the design is, the longer it will take to cut it. In addition, the smaller the decals is, the harder it is to cut it. It’s also true that the large ones are difficult to put on, but we’ll get there…
Don’t let yourself dragged into the cutting the small details or straighten edges. It’s better to do it last.
It’s also better to begin with the inner design and to cut too deep than too shallow. It’s not bad either to overlap the cut-lines.
As some lines need to be straight, stop from time to time to see if you’re on the right track. In addition, if you’re in the middle of a mistake, wait a bit until you take the template off to make it better. When you feel you’re ready to take this to the next step, you can start using a professional cutter and a heat press machine.
Step4: let’s pick!
If you’re cutting right, pick a negative space or outside piece to start from and begin by cutting the border into sections for easier removal. You may skip this step if your design is a circle.
Use the tweezers and pick a piece to begin with. Some say it’s always easier to start in the corners. Go over your design and trim edges or line up straight lines.
Step5: Time for some transfer tape
The decal has to be flat when you apply the tape and static electricity is very likely to happen. Begin with one end and roll it down, using your fingers to keep the tape flush, with no creases or bubbles. You definitely don’t want any wrinkles, as they are difficult to fix.
Once the tape is on, it’s time to trim it a half-inch from the decal and leave one hand overlapping.
Step 6: Simply…apply!
In case, you haven’t done this until now: clean the surface you’re going to put your design. Secure the overlapped tape side and check for the tape overlap is large enough so it doesn’t move.
After you chose your surface, take the backing off and roll it down so that there are no air bubbles. Press on the decal and make sure it’s well adhered. Continue rubbing until you’re sure every single inch is covered.
Pull back at a 180-degree angle and take the tape off. Pay attention to the small details and the air bubbles. Small tip? Spray a mild soap mixture on the surface before applying the decal for better results.
However, if anything gets south, lance the air bubble with your x-actor (using a slicing motion) and slice any creases/folds, overlapping each other afterwards.
You’re not done until you rub the decal one last time so that every single piece is set. Not it’s time to take a deep breath and…enjoy the results!