Introduction: Distressed Vinyl Decals : SFlettering Decal

About: Based in San Francisco I strive to incorporate custom lettering in the art that I design, print, and make.

To make a distressed vinyl decal similar to a vintage decal look that is aged over time you have several choices

1) create a decal that is actually missing parts and is already aged
2) weed the vinyl decal quickly and save the outline and internal letters in a rough fashion (this method was selected)
3) put on a regular decal and then age it by treating it roughly

It is always a good idea to test this technique on a vinyl decal with lots of small parts. Notice that some of these letters are comprised of more than 5 small pieces like the letter "e"

I made it at Techshop
Submitted by SFlettering for the Instructables Sponsorship Program

Step 1: Create Vinyl Decal File on Computer

When creating the file on the computer for a distressed vinyl decal consider testing out multiple sizes of the same stencil.
Also consider making slight changes from one stencil to another to get a few ideas of what is possible with the same basic stencil.

The computer file needs to include boxes around each stencil to get the final outline piece or the printer settings for easy weeding must be selected. 

Step 2: Cut Vinyl Decal at High Speed

Print out the vinyl decal on the vinyl cutter at high speed. If normal speed is 20-120 then high speed is at ~200+. Using a faster speed will get some raised bumps and lead to a more distressed look. Note that in this example I raised the speed during the printing process to test how to get the best look. When you change vinyl cutter machines during printing the vinyl cutter will pause and then continue after setting changes.

Step 3: Weed the Vinyl Roughly

Weed the vinyl roughly and attempt to keep more than 90% of the stencil intact. Notice how important the 2 fist letters are to the SF Lettering decal to achieve basic readability. Weeding from right to left usually produces a better quality look so consider weeding from left to right on this distressed vinyl decal project to get a more distressed look. 

No matter how distressed a decal must maintain basic readability to be suitable for use. 

Step 4: Keep the Weeded Vinyl Decal Outline

When weeding quickly with the right settings you can achieve the distressed vinyl decals in 2 ways.

1) using just the letters
2) using the weeded outlines as shown in this image

When replacing the letter outlines onto vinyl backing make sure to have some extra vinyl backing prepared in advance in addition to you original decal vinyl backing already in use for the decal of the letters.

Step 5: Final Product : Distressed Decal

The best final look for distressed vinyl decal came from using the outline of the letters weeded quickly and with a few remaining pieces from the actual letters. The final distressed vinyl decals look better in outline format because readability is improved from the letter outline making sure the final piece is still worth using to express the proper brand image.