Sticky printing

Design ideas & design process

When we were told we would get to actually print our own sticker designs I decided to create a sticker that wouldn’t have any problems with actually printing the correct colours, which would look the same on screen as it will be printed. Thus I used Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black (and white as it’s usually the paper/background colour).

Fig 1: Finished design Idea 1

For my first design idea, fig 1, I started off with this idea of various tabs open in a desktop, once I had done this though I felt it was rather plain so I tried various effects. Eventually I discovered the flare tool and I find it makes the design feel more like a photograph of a screen, giving it a bit more interest and ties it together. Upon deciding my sticker shape I went away from my original idea as It would have been rather plain and looked at other shapes. Finally deciding on placing two stars next to one another as the Typography and Graphic Communication course is all about bringing things together; type and image, print and screen, etc.

Fig 2: Completed Design Idea 2

Within my second design idea (fig 2) I wanted to try gradients, having a preference for warm colour pallets I decided to use Yellow and Magenta on a black background to ensure it really stands out. As the gradient creates an orange colour I layered various hexagons to create a vague reference to honey combs. After adding the text I began distorting the various shapes as well as the text creating a busy vibe within the design. As we are busy bees in the department – excuse the pun.

Fig 3: 100% cyan, magenta and yellow

For my final design idea I thought of creating the microscopic view of a printing press print on the white paper (fig 3). In order for my sticker to not get blurred edges but nice crisp ones the colours had to be 100% Yellow, Magenta or Cyan.

Fig 4: Typography & Graphic Communication text shaped like a ball

Once that was done I Created the text, as it didn’t stand out enough for my liking I tried using the stroke rather than the fill, creating a neon writing effect. Which was better but still not quite vibrant enough for my liking. Eventually I decided to warp the type and make it white, thus making my text look as though it’s jumping out at the reader, especially placed on a circle – which looks like a ball, fig 4.

Fig 5: Paintbrush pathway

Despite the text being more prominent at this point I wanted to do something else with my design, make it something really interesting to look at, so I decided to try create a path with the paintbrush to lead the eye and create the illusion that the text really is jumping out of the design. Sticking with my three colours I lowered the paintbrush’s opacity after choosing a watercolour brush to add texture, yet keep the inking dots within the focal point. After adding these (fig 5) it created a more playful dynamic to the design itself as well, like a fairy flight. Considering the main audience of stickers is children this happy accident made this my favourite design idea.

Fig 6: Green pathway is Cutcontourkiss and pink pathway is Cutcontourperf

As my design was complete all that was left to do was create the Sticker cut (Cutcontourkiss) and sticker bleed (Cutcontourperf ) pathways on their corresponding layer for the sticker to be printed later on. See fig 6.



Software Tutorials

I used to gather inspiration and a basic knowledge of how to use Adobe Illustrator as I am very much still a beginner.

Since these types of tutorials are created for you to follow along it helps me not only learn but retain the information so when I needed to know how to round the edges in the pen toll for example I knew how to do so without having to go back and rewatch it. I will also be less likely to forget how to do so in the long run as I have put what I learned into practise already – it’s useful, not just something someone told you is useful.

Another thing I used was notes on previous keyboard shortcuts I have learnt so far, which work in Adobe Creative Cloud across Photoshop and InDesign. Before starting I used trial and error to work out which of those also work for Illustrator, and wrote those as well as any new ones I learn down on another piece of paper. This means I will become a more efficient user of these softwares. My goal with this is to one day be able to change to any tool and function merely by using the keyboard since this does decrease the amount of time I need to create something significantly.

Moreover, in future I aim to be able to design things where the text itself is an image, or warped into the shape of an image, I think that would be interesting to explore further and opens up a lot of doors as well. Similarly I wish to learn how to make 2D designs appear 3D, almost photographic within the software as this would open a lot of new possibilities as well. Whilst I am not the most talented artist I do think that with this ability I could create some sophisticated and intricate designs in the future. Furthermore, I will continue to explore how to navigate the individual tools to make my time more efficient knowing the best tool for the job ahead of time.

Resources for research and inspiration

I quite enjoyed creating something that’s meant to look pretty more than anything else, since it meant I really could make it as simplistic and childlike as I felt at the time – playing around with and getting to know the software. I drew a lot of inspiration from the actual printing press process where all the printed colours come from the four colours; Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. An example of this (CMYK) can be seen at: It inspired me to the point that my colour pallet is entirely based on this across all three design ideas. One design idea was even created. in such a way to represent this, or the original idea behind it anyway.

Knowing how vast Adobe Illustrator is used I limited my research to video tutorials, which not only explain but also demonstrate what to do (and I can follow along). A good place to find reliable sources is LinkedIn Learning, though I do use Youtube when looking at a more specific skill as it’s simpler to find a specific tutorial when you don’t yet know what what you want to do is called, like how to use artistic brushes.

In future I would like to explore the weeks worth of viewing material on LinkedIn as there’s just a fountain of knowledge waiting for me to learn how to apply it. Maybe learn how to use a drawing tablet as well whilst using illustrator as I found it quite difficult to make the paintbrush stokes with a mouse, when drawing I very much prefer holding/using a pencil or pen to a trackpad or mouse.