Colour melt


  • In my research I noticed stickers often had one main focal image, with the text being an accompanying feature. One of the most distinguishable features of my previous work was the hand holding the earphone. Therefore this would be recognisable and relevant for the consumer, and easy to relate the sticker to the podcast.

  • I inserted the image into the document and cropped out the blank space around the hand. With the image selected, I used the ‘image trace’ tool and selected ’16 colours’ followed by ‘expand’ to change the image into a vector, where each shade is isolated to its own shape with adjustable colours.

  • With the now vector selected, I selected ‘recolour’ to adjust the colours to those inspired by my podcast cover. So that I could have whatever background shape and colour I wanted, I ungrouped the vector to delete the background. I could then group the remaining shapes and locked them into place to prevent them moving around.

  • To create the colour stretch at the bottom of the image I used the rectangle tool to create a rectangle the width of the corresponding patch of colour. Because I cropped the image, the bottom of it was flat which meant the rectangle fit flush against the image without gaps or overlap. To duplicate the rectangle, I selected the rectangle and holding down ‘option’ I could click and drag the next rectangle into place. To ensure they lined up neatly I also held down the shift key, this kept them level horizontally. Using the adjust tool I could change the width of the rectangle to match the image.

  • Once the rectangle was in place I changed the colour to match that of the image.  I made sure the rectangle was selected, then using the eyedropper tool, I clicked in the colour block from the image that I wanted to rectangle to match. I also found moving the rectangles to the back of the layer, through pressing ‘command-shift-[‘ made the overall appearance a little cleaner.

  • For the cut lines, I used a range of tools. For larger spaces I created rectangles and circles and using the direct selection tool I could adjust the shapes to fit the space needed. For these shapes I created them on the top of each layer at 50% transparency, so that I could see the image beneath.

  • I had made this for a different sticker design that used the whole hand, I was able to import it into this file and use the ‘direct selection’ tool to adjust this shape and use further tools and add any new lines or shapes needed.

  • Using the ‘shape builder’ tool I was then able to delete any overhang or unnecessary fill areas. Once I had the desired shape I combined the shapes into one using the ‘pathfinder’ tool. Having practiced with the pen tool as part of my research, I was able to make the cut lines quite clean.

  • As a single shape, I was able to remove the shape fill and apply the relevant colour preset to the outline. I also used the ‘pen tool’ to help me build my cut shapes where helpful. The last touch was to use the direct selection tool to make final adjustments to the position of individual lines and to curvet edges.


Though I was most familiar with illustrator, I found many of these tutorials very helpful in identifying and explaining the use of some tools that I had not got to grips with before. I particularly appreciated the demonstration on the shape builder tool. Previously I have tried to use the pathfinder tool in shape creation; partnered with the shape builder tool some tasks are made much simpler and easier. This is a tool I experimented with a lot this week and feel very comfortable using now. To use the shape builder tool to delete unnecessary shapes, I selected the overlapping shapes > selected the shape builder tool > hovered over the line or shape that I wanted to remove > held down the option key and clicked on the path I wanted to remove. This made a very clean and easy removal of an unwanted shape.

Other tools which I found really helpful in these tutorials were the lasso tool, the ‘create outlines’ tool and, especially for this task, the image trace tool. I have used image trace before, but not in illustrator. I found this tutorial helpful and used it in all of my designs this week to manipulate my chosen image into a vector. Once in a vector I could use ‘recolour’ to adjust the colours to imitate the predominant colours in my previous designs on the podcast. I decided against using any gradients, however, the simple tutorial was also very helpful and it is something I would like to explore in further designs.

One of my additional resources this week was The Bezier Game:
This website is incredibly helpful to develop ones skills with the pen tool. Each level is different and has a number of ways the shape could be completed. It is great for understanding how shapes are made and for learning to control the pen tool. This was particularly useful on this project when it came to making the cut lines for the sticker. I found also that understanding the pen tool better also translated to understanding how to edit and adjust shapes and lines.


I have previously worked with a company that designed stickers for their merchandise, though I did not design any myself, I appreciated how a sticker was much more interesting and appealing when it wasn’t a conventional shape. This is something I notices in many of the resources and something that I wanted to include in my design. It had the benefit of giving me the opportunity to develop my skills with the pen tool, but also produces a much more engaging product for the consumer.

I really enjoyed Javier Garcia’s videos on branding. It was interesting to learn how he valued geometrical shape design and enjoyed exploring the impact of colour on the design. Though I did not choose to make my design geometrical, I did also enjoy exploring the effect of colour and how this can change the tone of the design. Many stickers that I have researched are often very colourful as this grabs the viewers attention. If they are less colourful, it is always a specific design choice. Either to set a camper tone or to make a point.

For further inspiration, I looked on sites such as etsy, where it is common for people to purchase novelty stickers. Ads also often pop up on instagram and other various social media platforms. Going to a store website, rather than a design website, showed me what customers are actually consuming. I discovered many stickers are very simple. They have a focal image, often with very little text. When text it used many times it is the main element. This is due to the average size of a sticker; they are generally quite small and so there isn’t enough space to cram the design with image and text as one or the other, or both, may end up so small that they are unreadable. This is something I kept in mind when designing my stickers, though the image is nice and big on my screen, I must consider the final product.

etsy example