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How to design stickers (video tutorial)

Posted by Hayden Aube on

Designer, Hayden Aube, shows off his favorite techniques for creating a custom sticker in Adobe Illustrator.

You can also try Studio – our free online design tool. Choose from over 1000+ templates and quickly create your own design in minutes.


Hello, my name is Hayden Aube, and I'm a graphic designer and illustrator. And today, I'm going to show you how to create your very own sticker inside of Adobe Illustrator and get it printed with Sticker Mule. In the end, you'll see what it looks like when it's printed and shipped. Let's jump in.

So we're going to be creating a sticker for an imaginary company called Journey Pizza. I'm going to start off by making a series of circles using the Ellipse Tool. So there's the first, and then I'm just going to duplicate a second one and put it behind the first. And then I'm going to make a third one behind that one. Next, I'm going to grab the red and yellow circles and use the Divide Tool in the Pathfinder window. This will split those two shapes into what you see here.

Now I'm going to create another circle a bit smaller than the last, and this is going to be the path that I type my text on. So I'm going to use the Type on a Path Tool. And as I've mentioned, the company is called Journey Pizza. So I'm going to type that out, and then I'm going to use the Selection Tool to drag it exactly where I want it on the path. Then I'm going to shrink it down a little bit and make it white. And now that I have the text looking how I want it, I'm going to create outlines from it so it's easier for printing.

Next up, I'm going to use the Live Shape options with this Ellipse to drag out these widgets into the exact kind of pie shape that I would like.

Now I want to put a circle on either side of the larger circles. And I'm going to do that just by creating one where I like it right here and then using the Mirror Tool to reflect it to the exact other side.

The plan is to have a flagpole coming out of this inner circle, and so I'm going to start off by using the Pen Tool to create the pole of that flag. Once I've created the path that I like, I'm going to apply a stroke to it and then use the Stroke options to put it to the width that I'd like.

Because I'd like this pole to look like it's coming out of the circle, I'm going to use the Path Width Tool to make the top of the path larger and the bottom of it smaller. This will give it a sense of depth. And I'm just going to quickly change the position of it. And now I'm just going to duplicate one of these circles to create a little ball on top of the pole.

And now that this pole is looking how I'd like, I'm going to go to Object, Path, Outline Stroke. And this is going to turn it into a shape, which is going to make it easier to apply gradients to later on.

So now what I want to do is I want to create a flag shape that looks like a piece of pizza. So I'm going to draw it out with the Pen Tool, and then I'm going to go to Effect, Warp, and then Wave. And from here, I'm just going to play with these options until I get the nice curvy flag shape that I'm looking for.

Now, I'm going to move it behind the pole, and I'm just going to continue to move it around and adjust it until it looks exactly like I'd like. So I'll nudge it over a bit, I'll move the flag itself up, I'm going to change it to white. And now I'm just going to take these individual points and move them around. Because this is still a live shape, I can do this and the effect will adjust accordingly.

Once it's all looking how I like, I can go to Object, Expand Appearance. This will convert that live shape into actual paths, which once again is really helpful when it comes to printing.

Now as I said, I want this flag to look like a piece of pizza, so I'm going to create a bunch of little pepperonis. So I've created this symbol here, and I'm going to use the Symbol Sprayer Tool just to place them in different locations.

Now I'm going to use the Symbol Sizer Tool just to create variation among these pepperoni slices. So I'll make some smaller, some larger, and others I'll just keep the same. Next, just to change some of the position of these pepperonis, I'm going to use the Symbol Shifter just to nudge them in different directions.

And then lastly, I'm going to use the Symbol Spinner tool, and that's just going to let me to rotate these shapes so that they match the wave of the flag.

The last thing I want to do with this flag is just crop a little piece of that pole. And to do it, I'm going to create another circle shape, and then I'm just going to change it with the Direct Selection Tool to create a shape that I can now subtract from that pole. And then I'm going to just put that ball back on top, and there we have it.

Now, with all of the shapes made, now I wanted to apply some gradients to really refine this design.

So what I'm going to do is I'm going to create a gradient for this background red circle that goes from a red to an orange. So I'm going to set up the two different stops on the gradient window, and then I'm going to use a Gradient Tool to put it in the direction that I want-- so red on the bottom, orange on the top. Now for the yellow ring, I want to go from an orange to a yellow. So once again, in the Gradient window, I'm going to set up the gradient just as I'd like so that yellow to that light orange.

And then again, I'm going to use the Gradient Tool just to put it in the direction that I'd like. And then I can just reposition it here so it looks just how I'd like it. Next up, I'm going to do these two little balls, and I'm just going to eyedropper the background color and then apply the gradient in the direction to both of them at the same time. Now for the pole, I'll be using a dark blue and a lighter blue.

So I'm going to be creating it just as I normally have been. Oops, wrong color. There we go. And then again, I'm going to put it in the direction that I want with the Gradient Tool. For the ball on top of the pole, I'm going to eyedropper the pole's gradient, but I'm going to turn it into a radial gradient and then just switch the colors. This way, I can make it really look like it's a sphere. And I'm just going to make a quick adjustment to the pole.

And now I'm going to do this wedge shape here. So I'm going to copy that radial gradient, and now I'm just going to reposition it so it lines up exactly with that wedge. From here, I can continue to adjust the gradient itself to get it to line up just how I'd like it.

To add one final layer of depth, I'm going to create some drop shadows. So to do this, I'm going to create a shape that's a combination of both the flag and the pole-- so it looks just like this. And now I'm going to position it a bit lower than the flag and then put it behind. There we go.

Now from here, I want to crop it so it's only inside of that red circle. And to do that, I'm going to duplicate that circle, put it on top, and then I'm going to use Intersect in the Pathfinder window.

Now this new shape is where we're going to create our gradient for the drop shadow. So I'm going to put it back behind the flag, and now I'm going to create that gradient that is just this dark red on either ends of the gradient. But one of them is going to be a 100% opacity, while the other is zero. And then just as we have done with the other gradients, I'm going to drag it out with the Gradient Tool just to get it to look exactly how I'd like. Now I do think this is a bit strong, so now I'm actually going to go and reduce the opacity to about 25%. That looks good.

I'm just going to go back into it quickly and adjust that gradient to make it come down a bit more. Perfect.

Finally, I want to add a drop shadow inside this red circle so it looks like that yellow rim is coming forward. So I'm going to subtract one of those circles from another, just to get this thin shape here, like you can see. And then I'm just going to eyedropper that drop shadow I created before and drag it out how I'd like. Other way. There we go.

So now that we've designed our sticker, it's time to get it printed. And to do that, we're going to be using Sticker Mule's custom samples package. And that means we get 10 stickers for $9.00 and free shipping.

Once on the Sticker Mule website, we're going to go to Get Samples. Now on the sample page, you can choose from all sorts of different Sticker Mule products, including just a sample pack of a variety. But we're going to be using the custom sticker samples right here.

So from this page, we're just going to click on Order 10 stickers for $9.00. And then here, we're going to upload our artwork. If you have any specific instructions, you could put those in here. Otherwise, click Continue.

Now we just need to check out. And just as with any check out process, you'll need to enter your name, your email, as well as your credit card, and shipping information. Then press Place Your Order. And now we just need to wait for our proof.

So now that my proof has arrived, all I need to do is click here. And then at this point, you can see that they've added a nice white border to the design, and if there is any changes I want, I can just type those in here. But I think it looks good, so I'm just going to go and cancel, approve, and finally start production. And now my stickers are being made.

So let's see how they turned out. So I'll just open up the package, and let's see what's inside. There's the stickers, there's some Sticker Mule stickers as well. As well as a little card that tells me who printed it, which is kind of neat. But let's dig into this stack of 10 here and see how they look.

And, yeah, I can say that they're looking pretty good, looking like the design, which is really great. I'm particularly happy with how that white border looks too. And there you have it. There's the stickers after they've been printed.

So I hope that through this video, you've learned not just how to make a sticker that looks good on screen but looks just as good when you get it printed. Take care.

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