When I get my knife out, it’s usually to make paper cutouts, but also like to cut adhesive vinyl, as it has a couple of advantages over paper, namely: the finished cutout gets stuck to another surface, so you don’t have to be pernickity about designing something that will hold together, as you do with paper.
While cutting my most recent horoscope illustration for Fair Lady magazine, I happened to have my camera on hand, so I took some photos as I went, recording my process. This is the way I like to cut adhesive vinyl, and maybe it will help you too.
Step 1: Draw an image onto thin paper.
I looked at a 2008 Orla Kiely catalogue to get my starting point of a fashion conscious summertime gal. Note that I didn’t copy the image, as it’s not really kosher in terms of copyright to copy a photo that you didn’t take yourself. So I just used the model in the catalogue to give me a couple of ideas for this pose.
Step 2: Tape the paper onto the front side of adhesive vinyl.
I use black vinyl when I’m planning to scan the image after cutting it.The vinyl is pretty standard-issue, and not specialist at all. It’s the kind of stuff used to make signage in shops, and I buy mine from a local signage supplies store. Some of the places that do computer vinyl cutting will hand out their offcuts if you smile sweetly.
Step 3: Cut the image.
I use very steeply pointed blades in my NT cutter, which is a japanese brand of knife into which you insert individual blades. I make sure that I’ve cut all the way through by removing the white paper as I go. Still, I do find I have often not made completely released cuts and have to go back and fix these during the next step.
Step 4: Remove unnecessary vinyl
Low-tack paper is exceptionally useful when you need to remove the unwanted bits of cut vinyl. Once I’ve finished cutting, I remove the white paper, and smooth a piece of low-tack paper to the front side of the vinyl. Then I turn it over and remove all the unnecessary bits of vinyl, leaving only the parts that I need. As I do this, I generally keep finding the need to make release cuts. It’s important to not be impatient, as it’s so easy to rip the vinyl.
Step 5: Stick it down.
I remove the waxy backing from the vinyl, and press the sticky side to a piece of paper, then remove the low tack paper from the front.I stuck my illustration down in bits as I was anticipating scanning it and finishing it up in Photoshop. It’s not necessary to do it this way, and usually I don’t bother. This was a bit of an experiment for me.
Step 6: Tea (repeat, if necessary)
Step 7: Voila!
See more of my horoscope illustrations right here.