Introduction: Vinyl Helmet Stickers

Here's how I created custom vinyl stickers for my motorcycle helmet. I was inspired by hand painted helmet designs and chose brush script lettering to communicate my two most common thoughts about drivers while riding my motorcycle in NYC. For single-color designs like mine, you don't need a big vinyl printer, just a hobby vinyl cutter will work fabulously. I was visiting the Pier 9 Autodesk workshop and used the Roland VersaCAMM printer/cutter because it was available. Alternatively, you could bring your sticker design files to a local sign printing shop for printing/cutting.

For this project, I used:

Step 1: Design Your Stickers

Picture of Design Your Stickers

Search online for "free brush lettering font" for ideas on what type to use in your stickers, and add them to your font library. I used Adobe Illustrator to design my stickers, but any other vector program should work too, like Inkscape, or cutter-specific software like Cricut DesignStudio, Sure Cuts A Lot, or Make The Cut. To get the text ready for cutting, you must outline the text and unite any overlapping letterforms (pathfinder tool in Illustrator) to create one continuous cut line around the outer edge of the word/letter shapes.

I wanted to give my letterforms some shaping. I thought this would make the words fit better on the round helmet, but it's totally optional. I used the direct select tool (white arrow) to draw a box around the letters I wanted to move, adding/removing any stray endpoints by holding down Shift and clicking on each. I then used the arrow keys to nudge these letters up or down, and repeated with other letters until I was happy with the design.

You can download my eps sticker designs from this step.

Step 2: Print and Cut Stickers

Picture of Print and Cut Stickers

Next I loaded my files into the print/cut manager software, verified all my settings, and printed the stickers on white vinyl. I could have skipped the printing if I used black vinyl instead! But the printer does allow for unique designs with many colors. Next the Roland VersaCAMM used it's blade to cut the files' cutlines.

Because my stickers are printed, I wanted to protect the ink from physical wear with a clear coat of acrylic spray (used in a spray booth or with other respiratory protection).

Step 3: Peel and Mask

Picture of Peel and Mask

Next up, I peeled the stickers' surrounding vinyl from the sheet. I lost some dots and details in this process, but was able to create new dots (for the 'i's) later. After all the excess vinyl has been removed (tweezers are very helpful here), I masked the stickers with a giant roll of masking tape. This makes placement a breeze after removing the sticky backing!

Step 4: Prep Your Surface

Picture of Prep Your Surface

I took this project as an opportunity to clean all the helmets in the house with rubbing alcohol. Yuck! Your sticker surface should be very clean and dry before attempting to stick on any stickers. A clean surface will make your sticker last far longer!

Step 5: Place & Peel

Picture of Place & Peel

I figured out where I wanted the sticker to go, and cut it into smaller pieces to make it easier to manage. After peeling off the sticker's backing, I found a few stray pieces of vinyl that didn't get removed in a previous step, and had to pick them out with tweezers, carefully.

Step 6: Stick It!

Picture of Stick It!

It's time to commit! Line up your sticker, and try to place it starting with the center or one end, then run your finger down the centerline of the sticker along its length before working your way out to the edges. Sometimes a cut in the masking tape is necessary to accomodate the helmet curve without bending the sticker. Use a plastic card as a scraper to press down the sticker through the masking tape before peeling it up to reveal your new fresh design!

Step 7: Wear It

Picture of Wear It

I often find insensitive drivers all up in my business on city streets, seemingly oblivious to my frail humanity as they shamelessly merge and text, which is why I chose to put the phrases "drivers are terrifying" and "put the phone down" on my helmet, while my boyfriend preferred a more subtle effect with a classic diamond. Got any cool helmet sticker ideas? Put them in the comments!

Thanks for reading my Instructable! Here are some more of my bike projects:

To keep up with what I'm working on, follow me on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat.

Comments

redwolfoz made it! (author)2017-09-09

I'm impressed you got a big chunk of ornate text to curve so nicely around a helmet.

I went for something much smaller. Vector done in Photoshop and vinyl stickers via Stickermule.

bekathwia (author)redwolfoz2017-09-12

Nice, that looks awesome!!

bjkayani (author)2017-09-09

I love how the you managed to get a perfect finish on a curved surface. That is pretty hard to do. So I have a question. We have a vinyl cutter at our work place. Its a Roland but much smaller. Lately it hasn't been cutting properly. Like some cuts are smooth whereas other are intermittent and jagged. We have changed the blade many times but no change. Any idea what could be wrong.

bekathwia (author)bjkayani2017-09-11

Sounds like the cut depth or pressure isn't quite right, try messing around with the settings!

bjkayani (author)bekathwia2017-09-11

I tried every setting there was. Its not the setting because it cuts perfectly on some of the cuts but messes up the rest.

bekathwia (author)bjkayani2017-09-11

False logic unless the cuts are identical-- the type of curve/shape of the line will affect the blade movement. When I was dialing in my settings, some cuts were ok but others with small intricate shaped got mangled, changing the pressure helped.

JAG 111 (author)bjkayani2017-09-10

hi, did you try calibrating the cut, in the drop down menu?

OlivierB7 (author)2017-09-09

I like your Instructable and your CB200 !

But maybe it could be useful to print fluorescent stickers; here in europe it's compulsory to have them on your helmet.

graywoulf (author)2017-09-08

I am a bit confused about your Instructable. No offense intended mind you but is this about the motorcycle safety statements or about the use of an inkjet printer/plotter cutter and vinyl graphics application? You do good work and are creative and I am jealous that you are in the sign graphics business. I did this type of work for over 15 years and I miss it dearly. No one hires a 62 year old no matter their experience or level of creativity and expertise in this field. I enjoyed the video and the trip down memory lane though. Take care.

bekathwia (author)graywoulf2017-09-09

No offense taken, this Instructable documents my process for making helmet stickers, for what it's worth to whomever reads it. Can't separate the medium from the message, wouldn't want to... =D

WhyMeLord (author)2017-09-07

How about a hack using the likes of Cricket decal cutter that would allow the user to 'print' from a computer?

bekathwia (author)WhyMeLord2017-09-07

That's what I did, and what you can do with my .eps files as well! IMHO it's not a "hack" if it is the intended use of the project/product...

WhyMeLord (author)bekathwia2017-09-08

To my understanding, the Cricket cutters can ONLY use the carts produced and sold by the company. That is great for scrapbooking but useless if one wants to roll their own.

I've seen, in use, hacks that allowed the end user to cut on a cheap Cricket machine. (I've no information on how this was done)

Unfortunately few are fortunate to have economical access to big boy cutters as you seem to have (no cut on you). Which is why I asked if anyone on Instructables.com had or knew of a viable hack.

bekathwia (author)WhyMeLord2017-09-08

Ah, I see what you mean. I have a Silhouette Cameo, and was able to cut with Illustrator back before CC. I see that some of the free software I mentioned supports basically every cutter *except* the new Cricuts. But here's a 2016 tutorial using Cricut Design Space to upload a custom sticker graphic: http://www.keystoinspiration.com/cricut-explore-es...

Is there a reason that won't work for your machine?

LeslieGeee (author)2017-09-07

I ride and I LOVE this. You have no idea how many times I have mouthed the words "Put the phone down" knowing car drivers are not paying attention. I don't have a vinyl cutter but I bet I could improvise. Thank you for sharing. :)

bekathwia (author)LeslieGeee2017-09-07

Thank you! I'm up close and personal with drivers in traffic regularly, and am constantly miming a phone hangup with my hand-- this will really help drive home the message. =D

OneCarWorkshop (author)2017-09-05

Nice write-up! People seriously underestimate the utility of vinyl cutters. I have a small hobby-grade cutter and it has paid for itself several times over.

wold630 (author)2017-09-04

Best helmet ever!

bekathwia (author)wold6302017-09-05

Thank you! =D

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Bio: Becky Stern is a content creator at Instructables. She has authored hundreds of tutorials about everything from wearable electronics to knitting. Before joining Instructables, Becky ... More »
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