In this guide we're making a vinyl car decal.

Some background:
Stephanie is the director of the San Francisco office of The Humane League, an animal protection organization. She gives presentations at schools and travels a lot for her outreach work. She came to a Hack for Animals night and we came up with the idea of converting her personal car into something that promotes her organization while she travels, so I helped her make this vinyl-cut sticker.

This project was made on the vinyl cutter at TechShop.

* Some vinyl sticker paper
* Contact paper
* Rubbing alcohol 

* Vinyl cutter machine - I used the one at TechShop, I recommend looking for a maker space that may have one
* Exacto knife
* Dental tools or toothpicks
* Squeegee

Step 1: Prepare the files

You'll need to create your artwork as a vector file. We started with a PNG logo and used live trace in Illustrator to convert it to a vector file.
<p>This is cool! I've been wanting a way to add signage/decals to my car, so I'll be sure to do this over the weekend. I know what I'll be making, too :) I've had the idea forever but just not a way to do it. www.spotonsignsqld.com.au</p>
<p>I can't see anything innovative about this. Can you teach us how to boil an egg ?</p>
<p>I misread the door I thought it said &quot;The Human league&quot;. Then I&rsquo;m like why is there a picture of a pig?</p>
<p>I'm sorry if this is creepy to say, but you have a beautiful smile! :) Isn't it great to be around happy/optimistic people? </p>
<p>&quot;We want a world where all animals are treated with the same respect and compassion that we show to our beloved family dog or cat.&quot;<br><br>Ugh. PETAphiles. <br><br>Meanwhile I'm going to continue treating food with the same respect my dog treats my cat, or my cat treats birds, or birds treat insects. By using them for nourishment. </p>
<p>Nice Job! Love It!!</p>
<p>also I use masking tape on one side of the decal when positioning it to make life easier. You hinge the decal on the masking tape and slowly remove the backing starting at the tape hinge and move away from it smoothing the decal down as you go. Just remember to keep checking that all the decal is coming off onto the transfer tape/film as you work.</p>
<p>looks great, just thought I'd say that removing the negative space is known as weeding :) love that someone called it that.</p>
<p>Nice job, and if you need someone to do this for you, reach out to your local Signarama Sign Shop, they can do this for you!</p>
<p>Her smile is adorable. Shut up.</p><p>I have been making and applying vinyl graphics for 28 years. (Longer than the girl with the smile in question has likely been alive) Don't use contact paper, use transfer tape. If you have a $2000+ vinyl cutter, get some transfer tape. Grimco, Tubelite and many more sign suppliers carry this. It's not expensive and works better.</p><p>Not an exacto knife - get a cheap snap off blade knife. I have never been without one for 28 years and if you drop it it can be &quot;resharpened&quot; in a few seconds. If you really wanna go all out, get a stainless olfa knife. Sweet.</p><p>When possible, do not apply wet. It will go quicker if you are really careful applying the vinyl. Although if you are reading this intructable, go ahead and do the wet apply. Just please dont use too much detergent. JUST enough to keep it from beading.</p><p>As for the alcohol, that is spot on. Best cleaner out there.</p><p>If you don't have a hackerspace with a vinyl cutter, go to a sign shop around 11:45 am with 2 fresh hot pizzas. Just make sure you have VECTOR FILES on your flash drive. Forget Illustrator, unless you already have it. Download FREE Inkscape and save as a pdf after doing the vector conversion.</p><p>If you are in Athens Ohio, go to Zonez on w. union street WITH THE PIZZAS and Bruce will fix everything.</p><p>I LOVE instructables!!!</p>
<p>One of the posts below is correct - that is clear transfer tape. If you are applying several layers of vinyl, it's great, otherwise, go with the cheaper paper transfer tape. The clear stuff is HORRIBLE with wet apply and even worse in the sun.</p><p>BTW, Just a pepperoni pizza should be fine. A meat lovers supreme might tip them off you have too much money to spend. - Unless you are in Athens, Ohio. The you should go to avalanche pizza. </p><p>If you do, I will wash your car.</p>
<p>If you have time I prefer the wet method of application:</p><p>damp the surface and the vinyl with a spray of dilute detergent it is easier to squeegee out air bubbles and the vinyl remains re-positionable for a short time after application. With the wet method you do need to wait about an hour before you can remove the application tape and a couple more hours before it is properly stuck.</p><p>The wet method is most use when there are large areas of vinyl.</p><p>Also worth noting that vinyl application works best at room temperature, to hot and the vinyl is too flexible and any thin lines could get distorted.<br></p>
<p>+1 for this tip, it's practically impossible to apply large and/or multicolored areas of sign vinyl whilst avoiding bubbles and rucks when dry (I speak from experience!) also try to avoid stretching the vinyl at any time in the process as it tends to pucker up, although, with sharply curved surfaces, a hairdryer or low setting heatgun will help the vinyl to comply nicely.</p>
<p>The most common detergent to use with this method is a couple drops of <br>baby shampoo to about a quart of water. It works for applying vinyl as <br>well as window tint. Spray on the object that you're applying vinyl to, on the adhesive side of the vinyl, and on the outside of the vinyl to reduce the friction between your squeegee tool and the vinyl. A hair spray bottle is good, because you get a nice fine mist, just make sure it's thoroughly cleaned out first! </p>
<p>FYI, it is not contact paper, it is clear transfer tape. It also comes in paper form, much like masking tape. Contact paper is what you put in cabinets and drawers, and while it does come in clear, most of the time has a printed pattern. It would probably work similar though.</p><p>The process of removing any negative space as you said is called weeding. You weed a sticker.</p>
<p>I'm sure Tech Shop is a wonderful place to craft items like this. <br>Unfortunately there isn't any within hundreds of miles of me, and <br>probably many other followers of Instructables Suffer the same problem. It seems Instructables <br>is slowly drifting away from the &quot;Do It Yourself at Home&quot; community. While I applaud this project, I am not able to make this project, nor many others shown in Instructables without going to my friendly neighborhood Tech Shop 518 miles &amp; 8.5 hours away. I am not throwing rocks at our friends at Instructables, and I would love to have a Tech Shop within a reasonable distance (12-20 miles). </p><p>I am sure the Lady shown has a great smile, but the camera person caught her in a Mid-Laugh crisis. </p>
Very cool, very detailed. By the looks of the photos Stephanie happy... Very happy...
Yes! Very nice instructions. And she was understandably happy.
...Humane league...
why are you so Damn happy?
<p>So good! Awesome color, and great Instructable!</p>

About This Instructable


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Bio: I like to make things and break things. I also like to cook things and I like to eat things
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