Stickers are a groovy and fun way to give your space a unique touch, leave messages for others, or serve as simple advertising. One of the reasons stickers are so popular is that anything can become a sticker: your logo, your doodles, your cat’s face…if you can think it, you can make a sticker of it.
Making your own stickers these days is quite simple, especially if you’re a DIY-er. There are a couple different ways to make stickers, which means there’s a method for everybody.
The only absolute requirement for making stickers is to have an image: the higher the quality, the better. Of course, since stickers are usually smaller in size, even if you don’t have the highest quality image, you can still end up with a decent-looking result.
Below are a few tips that are useful both to the crafty readers and to those who prefer to leave execution in the hands of professionals.
Creating your own stickers from scratch can be fun.
1. Designing the sticker.
The best way to start is simply with pencil and paper. Take your time and sketch your ideas. When one of them strikes your fancy, refine it and import it into your computer.
The fastest way to import your design into your computer is to use a scanner. If you have one, scanning at 300 DPI (dots per inch) or higher is usually recommended for images you need to print at a later stage.
If you don’t have a scanner, you can use a camera. Try to avoid camera shake at all costs when taking your picture. Mount your equipment on a tripod or use a stable surface to support it. If your camera has manual settings, aim to keep your ISO down to prevent digital noise in your image.
After you’ve designed your image, either with pencil and paper or directly on the computer, you can use Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop or their free equivalents, Inkscape and GIMP to fine-tune the images.
Illustrator and Inkscape are preferred for graphics and illustrations; Photoshop and GIMP are recommended if you are working with photos. These programs not only allow you to refine your images, but can also help you prepare your print-ready file.
TIP: Choose CMYK over RGB; it’s usually the preferred color mode for printing.
The printing stage is often the trickiest part, especially if you are not the tech-savvy type. First, check that your screen and printer are calibrated properly to ensure colors turn out as you want them to be.
TIP: Calibration varies a lot from screen to screen and from printer to printer. Check your device’s manual or visit the manufacturer’s website for detailed instructions.
You can buy sticker paper in packs online or at your local office supply store. Depending on the paper size and on your design, you will be able to fit a variable number of stickers on the page. After printing, you can apply clear laminate over the sheets before cutting the stickers to make them waterproof.
Professional Stickers On A Budget.
Maybe you’re not into the do-it-yourself approach. If you prefer to have your stickers designed and printed professionally, but can’t afford to spend a lot, here are a few ideas.
1. Acquiring the graphics.
You can buy royalty-free stock images from a number of microstock websites for very low fees to embellish your stickers. Here is a handful of places to visit: Fotolia, Dreamstime, Bigstockphoto, 123RF, Cutcaster.
The images on these sites are usually very high quality and you can purchase them in several different sizes and formats.
2. Purchasing sticker prints.
There are several online stores which provide sticker printing services. Among them, Moo, StickerYou, Zazzle, Sticker Mule, Stickerbot, Pinstagram (for Instagram stickers) are well-known.
You will also find a number of sellers offering sticker printing on sites like Etsy and Ebay. Most of these services are fairly priced and they will let you purchase your stickers in bulk from anywhere in the world (usually you save more by ordering larger quantities).
Free templates or detailed guidelines are usually available from these stores as an aid to facilitate the design process. Some sellers will take care of everything and you will only need to upload your final images to their servers.
However, make sure you read the Terms of Service and agree with them before uploading anything to these sites, because more than a few among them will ask for a free, perpetual, transferable license in exchange for their services — it essentially means they could continue selling your design and transfer it to third parties as if it were their own content. This could happen even after you stop doing business with them, without your knowledge and without paying commission.
Don’t feel down if the first time the stickers don’t turn out the way you wanted. Finding the perfect workflow and achieving the desired results requires time and patience, but experimenting can be fun.