October '19

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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6 2 P R I N T W E A R O C T O B E R 2 0 1 9 C utting vinyl, whether for heat-applied apparel, family stick figures, or any num- ber of other uses, has a relatively short learning curve. It can be fun while providing a wide variety of applications to your clients. There are great profit margins in vinyl work once you figure out the basics and apply a few key steps to your design and production process. Recognizing the huge benefit of work- ing with vector art, small and large decora- tion shops agree that simply setting up cutable graphics can save a ton of time. Having the abil- ity to quickly apply a basic design to signage or apparel substrates can be an immediate addition to any pro- duction shop or effective enough to base a whole business on. Here are some key concepts and steps to make sure you're staying efficient when it comes to vinyl cutting artwork. COLLECT ALL THE INFO As with all pre-production steps, the more information regarding your client's expectations the better. An uninformed customer might assume that a digital print is the same as a vinyl-applied ban- ner. Or the inside hand on a thin T will feel the same as a thick sweatshirt after applied. Make sure you gather as much information as you can about your customer, their art, and what they want the result to be. Most often, we start our jobs with a logo from the client. Make sure you can do some basic bitmap to vector tracing yourself, or at least in-house. Why send a job to a designer or wait and pay to outsource something you could do in minutes? Control as much of the job and the re- sults as you can yourself. This is less relevant for large shops but will make the difference in a 2% growth year, over a 12% growth year. Try to simplify the art as much as you can be- fore you perform your trace. Quite often, espe- cially when setting art up for simple processes, converting to a lower resolution bitmap with a lower color mode will give straighter lines and curves with fewer nodes. I know this may sound counterintuitive at first. Pushing your design program to give you as much detail as possible is not necessarily best. Trust me, when it comes to simple imprint production, or cutting, we'd prefer the trace program assume more for us than see all the detail, steps, colors, etc. For example, a nice round curved area in the logo or a nice straight edge lets the program assume those features in- stead of going into every little nook and cranny. Consider re-drawing some of the basic shapes in the logo yourself. Use your crop tools with copy/ pasting to separate part(s) of the image. You may only need to trace a section of it while you can simply draw other part(s) yourself. Have you ever looked at the American flag? A rectangle, a square, 13 stripes, and 50 stars. Aligned and distributed appropriately. Sounds pretty easy when I put it like that, eh? Either in Corel-PowerTrace or Illustrator, per- form your trace on the simplified version of your design or its parts. You'll want to reduce colors as much as you can inside the trace but remember that once it's all vectorized it is very easy to com- bine pieces of the design back together. If a logo is not provided, the client will tell us what they are looking for. Once again, it is impor- tant to make sure you are both on the same page as far as art and application. I recommend using virtual proofs as often as possible for this. Clipart can help with parts of the design you're building/re-building. This roots back to your original conversation with the client. "I have almost exactly the same Viking mascot, and it's production ready. I won't have to charge you an art fee." Be straightforward and ask the customer if you can use a similar flag in the background. These quick questions can save you hours of Setup Art for Vinyl Cutting C L A Y B A R B E R A HOW TO…

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