Picture of How to create vinyl decals (by hand)
Hello and welcome to my first Instructable. Here I will show you my method of creating vinyl art for sticking on stuff. Most of my work goes on the back of my truck, I've sold some stuff. Also, white vinyl is decent for masking some stuff for painting because it is the most flexible color (least amount of creases which account for paint leakage) although it's not 100% water [paint]-tight.

I pretty much taught myself how to do this out of frustration for the rip-off shipping costs of online sellers of decals. I am fortunate to live down the street from a plastics store (S&W Plastics on University Ave) that carries a huge selection of adhesive vinyl for sale by the foot or by the roll. They also have the transfer tape.

In this instructable I attempt a two-tone decal. It's just double steps and lining up the two parts properly  and I even ended up with an extra sticker when I cut out the shading part!

List of ingredients:

- A design. Preferably two colors only with high contrast and not too much detail. Keep in mind; gradients are impossible to cut but photoshop filters can help. For starting off, the simpler the better... practice on line-art stuff then move up to more detailed work.

- An  X-Acto knife or other suitable sharp cutting utensil.

- A cutting surface I use the poster board mailers my "other vinyl" comes in. This part totally depends on how much you care about your work station surface, although I still recommend something as you'll see explained in step 2.

- Scotch tape

- Adhesive-backed colored vinyl
color choice is up to you.

- Tweezers I prefer a needle-nosed pair, really sharp points.

- Scissors

- Transfer tape specially made tape with the adhesive strength in between that of scotch tape and a post-it note.

- Patience and a penchant for the meticulous.

Once I save up for an electronic cutter I will laugh at my once archaic ways... but until then I like doing it this way.
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chococupcake3 months ago

Hi! I was just wondering where you can buy the transfer tape? I see Amazon has it, but it's like $20 something a roll, is there an alternative to this tape? Could I use blue painter's tape?

salazam (author)  chococupcake2 months ago

No masking tape would not work. You could use a low-adhesive tape like scotch tape I imagine. Anything that has less adhesion than the vinyl itself. If you do a piece small enough or with little detail you could transfer it without tape. Just peel and set. Yeah that price on amazon is ridiculous. I forgot how much mine was but not $30 that's for sure.

Thank you for replying~!! I've been hoping to find the transfer tape at the craft and hobby stores in my area, but no such luck... :(

I've searched online for an alternative and some people say I could use clear, reposition-able contact paper or the Glad Press n Seal wax paper. I've not tried either of them yet. I wasn't sure how sticky they would be or if they would even work... I'll try the scotch tape too! Thank you again~! ^__^

salazam (author)  chococupcake2 months ago

I don't think the press n seal wax paper would have enough adhesive to grab it off the backing. After thinking about it, masking tape might work but you wouldn't have the advantage of seeing how you're placing it. As long as you're peeling totally parallel to the work surface (as I believe I demonstrate above) it may work. Scotch tape could leave sticky residue. I say try 'em both out, return with results.

1980toyota2 months ago

Where do you get the vinyl sticker paper, transfer tape etc. at to do these vinyl stickers?

salazam (author)  1980toyota2 months ago

S&W Plastics on University Ave.

JetwashA2 months ago

What kind of vinyl do you use for the part that sits on the paint on a car? My friend is cutting it for me but I don't know what type to buy or where.

salazam (author)  JetwashA2 months ago

Ok just called the store they said: 3 mil or 76 micron which is apparently 0.076 millimeters

salazam (author)  JetwashA2 months ago
I buy the stuff my local plastics store sells. I don't know the thickness. I know the thicker it is, the easier it is to work with (thinner stuff will be harder to get off of the transfer tape).
Denofthelions11 months ago

Very cool instructable.

Sam Stick1 year ago
try my trick friend i think it would help you alot it is easier thatn yours,try to see it in my page.
salazam (author)  Sam Stick1 year ago
(removed by author or community request)
salazam (author)  salazam1 year ago
Actually I tried it today on a fairly simple text decal I was doing and after the first letter I was like, "screw this" because you end up tracing twice. My method you only trace once with the x-acto and it's easier to see what you're doing.
salazam (author)  Sam Stick1 year ago
Not bad! That's a good idea because cutting through the paper and the vinyl it's hard to judge the depth. I'll definitely try it on my next decal. I also just found out I could use the negative parts of the decals for silkscreening thanks to a few other instructables, I'm gonna try that too once I make/buy a screen.
These are really cool! do you think I could buy some from you? I would make them but I have no way to get the materials. :(
I would love to, send me an email at regarding the details (size, color, design) and I'll work with you on a quote. :-)
salazam (author)  salazam1 year ago
btw, for any interested I don't do orders anymore. Teach a man to fish... you know? That's what this site is about. I don't have time to work for other people when I have ideas of my own. Happy cutting!
mrcaderly1 year ago
Very nicely done!
Nice way to get inexpensive decals. I am gonna use it to make window decals and stickers for my car
LucDaRocka12 years ago
Where can i buy the vinyl?
There is a whole sale supplier called "Regional Supply" in SLC, UT web page found here:  Also a  place on line called:  Gregory in Buhler, KS,  found here:  They both are wholesellers but they do sale retail.  I bought my first vinyl from Gregory.  The vinyl sold by Provo Craft for use with the Cricut is from Regional Supply.  That vinyl is Oracal 631, matte finish, lots of colors.  I am still working on my first roll of vinyl I bought before I knew better, 50 yds of 24" wide gloss black, should have bought matte.  Oh well.  Hope this helps. 
salazam (author)  LucDaRocka12 years ago
dude, it says you live in LA. Shop local! Esp for something as heavy as a roll of vinyl! There are tons of plastic supply shops in L.A.
Lol Not L.A. DUH! LOUISIANA!!!!!!!!!!!!
scoochmaroo2 years ago
You could enter this in the Father's Day Challenge!
bruce50002 years ago
idont game the grandsons allway on but love the controler
adel antado2 years ago
I have always wondered how this is done. Thank you for sharing the method.
toezar002 years ago