Introduction: How to Set Up a Four-Layer Decal for the Vinyl Cutter Using Illustrator
Many people make one-color, single layer decals using the vinyl cutter. However, there are so many more possibilities when one creates a multiple layer decal. In this Instructable I will show you how to set up a file in illustrator for a Four-layer, Three Color Vinyl Cut Decal.
While we will only be setting up the file for the vinyl cutter in this Instructable, you will eventually need four 12” x 24” sheets of vinyl: two black, one white and one red. At two dollars per foot for the vinyl you can fit 8 total hand layered decals on the sheet at a cost of about one dollar each.
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Step 1: Open Up a New File and Create Four Layers
In Illustrator create a new file with the size of your vinyl, 12” High by 24” Wide. Once you have opened your file, open up the layers panel and create three new layers for a total of four layers.
Step 2: Layer One
For the first, or the base layer, I will create approximately a 5.25-inch, solid black circle that all my other layers will rest on. For future projects you can create any shape base you like, just make sure you create it in layer one and that it’s a solid piece, so the rest of the layers will easily attach. This layer will be on one of the black sheets of vinyl.
Step 3: Layer Two
For the second layer I find it helps to layout two guides in an x shape over the first layer to help align the next layers. After you have laid out your guides, create an image for your next layer; make sure you create it in layer two. For mine I will use a white circle and a star, which I will center perfectly on the first layer. This layer will be on the white sheet of vinyl.
Step 4: Layer Three
The third layer will be the red layer. You can again make what ever you want, but for the demo I have chosen to make a star pattern that surrounds the original white star on the second layer. You can use your guides, but use your better judgment when centering the red stars, as it will take some adjustment to get it just right. As you already know this will go on the red sheet of vinyl. Make sure you have created it in the third layer.
Step 5: The Fourth and Final Layer
For the forth, and final layer, I will complete my decal with some text. I am going to use the type on path tool, around a circle to surround my stars with black text that reads “FIVE STAR STICKERS”. This layer sits on the surface of the white layer in the circle, as seen in the screen shots. Make sure you align the text box that is shown when the text is selected, with the box that surrounds the white layer when it is selected. This layer will be on the second piece of black vinyl.
Step 6: Saving Your File for Cutting
Save each layer of the four in a separate file showing only that layer. For example mine would be “Star-Layer 1, Star Layer 2, Star Layer 3, Star layer 4”. Once you have saved your files by layer they’re ready to be cut. Please look for the conclusion of this Instructable when I show you “How to Assemble a Four-Layer Decal”.
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