I spent a lot of time searching for inexpensive ways to add a logo to my bass drum. I found an inexpensive way with adhesive vinyl. I am assembling what I learned and my method here, in one place, to help out the next guy. I will also discuss why I chose the methods I used. I am also willingly sharing my mistakes and some thoughts about how to avoid them.
Step 1: Create a Logo
Before materials comes the creative process and choice of methods. For eager makers, skip to the "Assemble Materials" step.
First, create a logo. I used a couple of criteria to design the logo.
* The text and graphics must be clear and stylish and must be easy to apply on the drum
* The name must be very readable
* Simple blocky colors would be easier to cut and apply
I created the text with pencil and paper and our guitarist contributed the "rugged cross" graphic. I combined the two and chose a graphics program to create a scalable logo suitable for drums, banners, paper, business cards and so forth.
I actually chose the base font at a later stage, but it was very similar to the final font I chose. I tried several different fonts and asked many people for their opinion. This was by far the best looking and most well liked. Yes, I am aware how often Papyrus is used and, frankly, I believe this is the best design.
Step 2: Chose Graphics Program
For this optional, but highly valuable step, I chose Inkscape for the following reasons:
* Freely available for most operating systems
* Easy to use
* Standard formats (SVG, PDF and many others)
* Font to path conversion for manipulating letters as curves
* I already had it installed
Any program capable of vector graphics will work nicely for enlarging the logo to drum size or shrinking it to business card size. If it does not support vector graphics, be ready to smooth out the jagged edges by hand. This is possible, but not a lot of fun and not very consistent. Shrinking the graphics for smaller applications will be even more disappointing. I also created logos in black and white and white on black as well as color.
I also found it easy to import existing graphics (the rugged cross) and to trace it as a path.
I will leave using Inkscape to their tutorials, forums and wiki. Oh, yeah, here's another reason why I chose Inkscape:
Step 3: Choose Method
After reading a lot about drum head logos and consulting with my friends in graphics, I chose vinyl for the following reasons:
* Seemed easiest to correct mistakes, over paint at least
* Seemed easiest to produce a clean, clear image
* Materials inexpensive
* Paint might be irreversible and I did not want to spoil a new drum head
* I'm incredibly cheap and somewhat of a perfectionist
I found "Adhesive backed vinyl" on the web in many colors and styles, including patterned and sparkly.
A local hobby chain had it cheap, eight bucks a roll for two 12" x 36" sheets, and that was enough for four drums. With two colors in my pattern, $16 was so much cheaper than having someone else do it.
I chose standard indoor vinyl because I wanted the impact to the sound of the drum lessened. I think it is the kind used by the vinyl cutting "printers". The printer would have been handy, but way too expensive for this one time project. Cutting the vinyl manually was time consuming, but really not that bad, even for the intricate pattern in the logo.
If I was going to decorate a drum to be used outdoors, I might have tried a vinyl suitable for outdoors. I understand it is thicker and the adhesive is stronger. I was hoping I could replace misplaced vinyl and remove the vinyl if I made a big mistake. Fortunately, fixing the vinyl was easier than I thought. The standard adhesive seems strong enough for the drum. Next time I would not hesitate to use a stronger adhesive backing. I will update this post if the adhesive seems weak. It stood up to the scrubbing I did when I cleaned the drum, so I feel pretty confident.
Step 4: Assemble Materials
Clockwise from lower left:
* Standard 8.5" x 11" paper
* Cutting board
* Scotch tape or Transfer Paper (get it with the vinyl)
* Craft knife (I used #11 blade), very sharp
* Vinyl rolls
My crafty wife had everything but the vinyl.
I used a second larger board for most of the cutting, just for convenience. I also used a computer, an inkjet printer and some creativity, though we are past that step already. Of course a drum head is also required. Mine was smooth (not coated) and already seated and tightened and tuned on the drum.
If I do this again, I would use transfer paper or something that would leave less residue than scotch tape. It worked well, but was a minor pain to clean up and the remaining residue will likely catch dust and dirt.
If you have a friend with a vinyl cutting machine, I would bet that this would be easier than by hand. It was nice to have the cut letters with their backing. I am not sure that the printers cut the backing as well. Cutting the vinyl by hand was time consuming, but it was certainly not a big burden.
Step 5: Create Outline
Create an outline of the pieces by removing fill and adding a thin stroke outline.
Overlapping pieces of different colors should not actually overlap. I used the difference tool to remove the overlapping portion of those pieces before printing.
Step 6: Print a Template and Center It on the Drum
Print out the pattern at actual size. There is no need to print it on large paper, or even print the whole thing. There just needs to be enough to center, or otherwise arrange the logo. I aligned the rugged cross as separate pieces, which made placing the vinyl pieces easier, as they could be removed separately from the rest of the logo.
Step 7: Align the Logo
I aligned the logo to the brand name logo on the drum. I figured that if the logo was not parallel to the drum I could reset the head. If it was not parallel to the logo, it would look bad.
I just picked my spot and used the tops of the letters in "Carpenter's" as a line. I cut and placed a piece of scrap paper to act as my guide. I used the cutting board to make sure the cut paper edges were parallel. I used another piece of paper to measure the distance from the end letters to the side of the drum. This can be tricky depending on the design. Use the graphics program to get a feel for the best distances. In this case, the end letters were the same distance from the edge of the drum.
I moved the logo down a bit though, because I had not taken the drum-head brand logo into account. I decided to keep the drum head brand logo and work it into the design by moving the band logo down a bit.
Step 8: Print the Pieces on the Backing
I arranged the pieces within the constraints of the paper to conserve vinyl and I reversed the pieces, since the backing will be the reverse of the affixed vinyl side. If you have access to a vinyl cutting printer, there is no need to reverse the design. There is no need to keep the pieces in the same arrangement, since we will use the template for placing the pieces on the drum. With a multiple color logo, the different colors will have to be separated anyway.
Step 9: Cut the Vinyl and Print the Backing
Cut the Vinyl to size for the printer. My printer is an inkjet with a maximum width of 8.5". If the vinyl came in a roll, it will likely have some bubbles in it. Unroll the paper by rolling it backward and smooth out any bubbles.
I highly recommend printing a few samples on paper to verify the correct orientation for printing on the backing and for verifying the margins.
I tried printing patterns on the vinyl and, even though it looked great, it never dried properly and smeared, even after a long drying period.
Step 10: Cut the Design Pieces
If you have access to a vinyl cutting printer, cut the vinyl and skip the rest of this step.
Cut the design pieces from the backing side, tracing the pattern with the craft knife. This will definitely require a cutting board or cardboard, since you want to make sure to completely cut through the vinyl. Cut inner pieces first and work away from the design. I found it easiest to cut long smooth shapes and then cut small details away. It is easiest to see this on the "chips" in the "C"s in the following slides and in the letter "a" in the next step.
The logo pieces were a lot smaller than I thought. In spite of some small distances, the vinyl held up very well. It certainly helped to have a very sharp knife.
Step 11: Assemble Overlapping Vinyl
Assemble any overlapping vinyl and place it together using transfer paper or tape on the visible side.
This particular piece has four pieces, three from the rugged cross and one letter "a". Notice the jagged design of the letter. I cut the basic "a" shape and then cut the divot details.
Step 12: Apply Pieces to the Drum
I found it was very important to clean the drum head before affixing each piece. I started by cleaning the whole drum and replacing the template. Even so, it was necessary to clean portions before adding a new piece.
Make sure the entire template is aligned as before.
Apply the major areas and largest shapes first and arrange the smaller pieces in relation to the larger pieces. I started by placing the interlocked "C"s. I put the pattern on top of the template. I removed enough of the backing in the area where the template was missing to get a start with the adhesive.
By the end of this step, the bottom portion of the "C"s was adhered to the drum head (backing removed) and the rest was aligned to the template, the backing still in place.
Step 13: Smooth the Remaining Piece
I moved the template aside near this large piece and removed the backing and smoothed it into place. I found it best to tightly smooth the whole shape against the drum.
This step was a bit tricky because the larger shapes have a bit of give, so it would be easy to slightly move the shape and misplace the piece. I used the top of the rugged cross as a point of reference. Once I was finished, I put the template back over the top to make sure it was placed correctly.
Step 14: Place Relative Pieces
Next, I placed pieces relative to the first piece. This happened to be the overlaying pieces. The tape was very handy. Some of the smaller pieces had stubborn backing. This shape was particularly tricky to orient correctly, so the letter was aligned with the remaining letters. I think next time I would have taped at least some of the adjacent letters as well.
I was able to remove any incorrectly placed shapes and replace them with no loss of adhesive, which was good news.
Step 15: Additional Letters and Pieces
I was able to add additional linked letters by aligning them to the template. I removed the backing of each letter individually and checked the alignment of each. In the first picture, the backing is still on the drum, the vinyl is on the tape under my thumb.
The following pictures show alignment. I regularly verified the alignment to the template and placed pencil ticks along the paper at the edges of each letter.
Step 16: Partial Backing
The final pieces are placed, like the others, by removing a small piece of the backing, placing the piece, verifying the position against the template and removing the remaining backing. These photos show this process up close.
Step 17: Clean the Drum Head and Vinyl
This is the final product, before cleaning the vinyl. I was able to clean the tape residue, seen here on the rugged cross, above the "a" and near the "s". I also adjusted the "n" and "t" a bit.
The logo held up well at its first gig, in a very hot and humid room. I have no concerns about the durability of the vinyl logo.
Check out InkScape (http://inkscape.org/) and the band related to the logo (http://carpenterscrossband.com/).
Thanks for reading. I hope this was helpful to other drummers.