I field a lot of questions about design, and making stickers from vintage ephemera or original art is at the top of the list. If you want to design your own printable stickers, but are not sure how, then this quick and easy sticker tutorial will help.
Note every designer I know has a different process, this is just how I do them :)
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Supplies for Designing Stickers
A computer or iPad (This tutorial uses an iPad and the Procreate graphics program, but the steps are the same if you’re using a different device or program, though the tools may be in a different place.
Ephemera you want to convert to a sticker in .png or .jpg
What Ephemera Works for Stickers?
Choose a piece with a defined shape for your first stickers. If you’re scanning, scan in at least 300dpi. If you’re using a downloaded image, it should also be a minimum of 300dpi to turn out well. If you start with a poor resolution or blurry image you won’t get good results.
I chose images from a vintage perfume industry magazine. The ones I have range from 1898 to 1919, so are out of copyright. Here are a few of the images:
Each of these magazines is about 100 pages of info about soaps, fragrances, chemicals and marketing perfume products. Each one also has these color illustration, which I want to turn into stickers.
Here’s the one we will start with, I like the blue and the shape. There is a file at the end of this post with these scans so you can follow along.
How to Make Stickers in Procreate
Start by making a canvas. I have my default set to 8.5 x 11” and 300dpi. This way I can tell at a glance how much if the paper a finished sticker will take up.
I added the image file then cropped away everything but the bottle.
Next I used the selection tool to remove the rest of the background. I dragged the blue area away from the page to get rid of it.
The isolated bottle is all that’s left.
The color is a little dull, so I picked a different blue and dragged to to the bottle to brighten it up a bit. You can also use the color controls (2nd icon from the left)
Next, I duplicated the bottle to make a new layer with an exact copy.I then used the
Color tool to take the bottle all the way to solid white.
Then I slid the original bottle on top of the white one.
make the white bottle a little bigger to give a sticker border. Use the ink pen and the eraser to refine the edge if needed.
Repeat this process to add a skinny border of black as a cutting line.
Now merge all 3 layers together, this allows you to make duplicate bottles and move them around the page.
I duplicated mine and removed the text from one.
To remove the text on a solid color image like this one, select the background color by pressing on the image for 2 seconds.
Once you’ve got the color, just use the pen tool to fill in any spot you want to remove the design from.
Make duplicates of the finished piece if you like then drop in new colors or use the color tool to adjust each one. Here are a few versions of this sticker.
Slide the Hue button across to change the color of each bottle.
When you’re happy with the pieces you can cut and paste them into a new page, along with any others you’ve made.
To print, export as pdf with the best quality setting, then choose print. Print on sticker paper. I use full sheet shipping labels or printable vinyl for this. The brands I use are shown, but any printable sticker paper you like will work. You can cut out with scissors or transfer to the Cricut for cutting.
Sticker Paper Full sheet mailing labels, the price varies but I usually pay $12 or so usd for 100:
Vinyl Sticker Paper
it is a little more expensive but printable vinyl makes lovely stickers! I like the Matte finish and linked the one I use below. Note stickers made this way are easier to handle and water resistant but not water proof ;) I try to pay about .50 per sheet, the price fluctuates a bit.
iPad for Procreate
the one I use is a 7th generation 10 inch, the larger iPad pro version was too big to work with comfortably. Note Procreate will not run on an iPad that is earlier than 5th generation, but will work with used or 6th gen iPads. I also use a knockoff Apple Pencil from Amazon. I had the real one a few times but I lose them so often the cheaper one makes more sense :)
Files to practice with:
blue talcum bottle
yellow talcum bottle 1
yellow talcum bottle #2