Sticker Tutorial: Making Die Cut Shapes in Adobe Illustrator

So… You use Adobe Illustrator and Wanna make easy Die-Cut Custom Shapes for your stickers… Who doesn’t !? This is a mini tutorial for those of you that may not be Illustrator experts – but are versed enough to be dangerous… Below you will find the historic first Sticker Robot video tutorial!. We suggest watching the video (and subscribing to get more) and then diving into the text below, which compliments with some additional snarky explanation (but not too much…)

Step 1

For this tut we will be creating a gigantic 11″ tall die cut sticker. First things first… group all of your sticker art into one layer. This will be our target to get our die cut shaping from, so ignore background elements, etc. You can simply select all and “Object > Group” or in the layers menu with layers highlighted select ‘Collect In New Layer’. The choice is yours.
NOTE: Moving layers with clipping masks is like crossing the streams. It would be bad. Soooooo – to avoid this, expand those layers before this step, silly.

First image in the die cut sticker tutorial

Step 2

Go over to your layers menu & select the layer with the grouped art. Drag that punk down to the ‘new layer’ icon to create a duplicate.

Second image in the custom die cut sticker tutorial

Step 3

Take a break and stretch. Go surf the net for funny pics or play some candy crush.

Third image in the die cut sticker tutotial

Step 4

Now select the duplicate layer only. Click the little circle icon to the left of the layer to make sure all is selected.

4th Image in the Custom Diecut Stickers tutorial

NOTE: Step 5 may not be necessary if you haven’t applied any effects (or live paint, etc) to the artwork. If ‘Expand Appearance’ is not available – skip this step and move to Step 6.

Step 5

With the layer contents selected- go under ‘Objects > Expand Appearance‘. This is a ‘for good measure’ step in case you have strokes that are important to the shape.

5th image in the die cut outline tutorial in illustrator

Step 6

Reselect with that little circle icon in the layer menu and go to ‘Object > Expand‘ as a secondary ‘for good measure’ step.

6th image in the die cut decals tutorial

Step 7

Now reselect again with the circle icon and locate the Pathfinder tool. (Window>Pathfinder) And use the ‘Merge‘ command.

Step 7 in creating die cut custom vinyl stickers

Step 8

Now with the result selected, use the pathfinder ‘Unite‘ command.

Step 8 in creating your own custom die cut decal stickers

Step 9

Now to get the die cut shaping you simple use the selected shape and go to ‘Object > Path > Offset Path‘ and make your offset ‘.125’ (that’s the 1/8″ we need) and click OK.

Step 9 - how to make die cut stickers

NOTE: If you set the ‘joins’ to round you can avoid some of the sharp extrusions. I, however, am a rebel and forgo such simplifications to send a message to the powers that be to show they can’t control me!

Step 10

Now, reselect the layer with the circle icon and Repeat Step 7 & 8.

Step 10 in creating die cut custom stickers

Step 10.5

You should now have a pretty decent die cut shape so remove the fill and stroke it with the appropriate color (which I did not) – but depending on the artwork it may need some tweaking. You can fine tune it point by point or use the pencil tool from here just to soften some areas up to your liking.

Die Cut Stickers Tutorial - Step 11

The final step in our die cut stickers tutorial - Still with us?

So what do you think of this mini tutorial? Something else you want to learn in a minified tutorial? Leave a comment below and we’ll make all of your dreams come true!* *Dreams may not actually be fulfilled. If you’ve made it this far and are ready to order some of your own custom die cut stickers based on your own work of art, click here to order now. And remember, don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel, there’s plenty more where this came from!
Sticker Robot Custom Stickers