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How to Create A Die-Line for a Custom Sticker In Adobe Illustrator

custom die line for raster and vector images
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The best part about designing your custom sticker is having it look exactly how you want it! However, making die-cut lines can get confusing. Sticker Mountain is here to help. In today’s blog, we will walk you through creating a die-line for vector and raster images using Adobe Illustrator step-by-step. Let’s get started!

What you need to know

First, a quick reminder:

A raster image is an assembly of individual pixels of color arranged to form an image, also known as bitmaps. From a visual design aspect, raster images are simple to make smaller, but making them larger is tricky. Increasing the size of a raster image will decrease the resolution, making your picture blurry or fuzzy.

A vector image is defined on a plane by connecting curves and lines, and it uses mathematical equations to form shapes. It allows you to create more refined and detailed artwork. No matter how far you zoom in or out on the image, it will stay true to the design, without pixelization.

How to create a Die-Line for a Vector Image

Step 1: Open your artwork in Adobe Illustrator
open art in illustrator
Step 2: Resize your artwork

In this example are going to create a 3-inch custom sticker using a vector graphic
Resize the artwork to 2.75 in. Or what the desired size is for your sticker. This particular example will be sizing it down by 0.25 inches smaller than the sticker. To do this:

click on artwork

Click on your artwork

Then go to the top of the screen where it has the dimensions. Make sure the dimensions are locked, so you do not warp your artwork in the width section, and type 2.75 inches.

type size of width
Step 3: Align the Artwork

Go to the align panel, then the align object section and press the vertical and horizontal align buttons

center align
center align
Step 4: Group the artwork
group artwork with command g

First select all of the artwork, and make sure it’s grouped together by:

  • Clicking Object at the top of your screen
  • Then click the Group from the dropdown 
  • OR use your keyboard and type COMMAND+G
Step Five: Offset Path the artwork
offset path menu

With your artwork still selected:

  • Go back to the Object dropdown
  • Then all the way down to Path 
  • Click Offset Path; this will open a dialog box
  • In the dialog box, the “Offset” should be set at 0.125 inches, Joins should be set to round, and the meter limit will is set to 4.
  • Click OK
offset path details
Step six: Cut and Paste in place
  • Press COMMAND+X to cut out the unneeded mess but to keep your artwork
  • Next, press COMMAND+F to paste your messy artwork blob on top.
cut sticker
paste sticker
Step Seven: Unite the Shapes
  • With your messy artwork blob selected, go to the Pathfinder window at the bottom right of the screen.
  • Under Shape Modes, click Unite.
  • If you are having an issue seeing the lines, reselect it and click unite again.
pathfinder panel
custom sticker united path
Step Eight: Switch Fill Color and Stroke

Switch the fill and stroke colors so you have a nice, simple die line for your custom-shaped sticker. You can use the keyboard shortcut SHIFT-X.

swap fill and stroke
custom sticker die line

Under Swatches, you can find the colors to change the stroke color to something bright, like a red.

And you’re finished!

color panel red
custom sticker red die line

How to Create a Die-line for a Raster Image

A raster image might need a little more help when scaling. It’s set up similarly to the vector graphic and will be sized down to 2.875 inches and aligned with the center of the artboard.

Step One: Create a square
rectangle tool dimensions
  • Select the rectangle tool on the left side of your screen 
  • Click on a space on your artboard, and a dialog box will appear requesting dimensions for your square.
  • Next, enter 2.75 inches for the width and 2.75 inches for the height.
  • Press OK 
Step Two: Align the image and the square to the center

Using the align panel, center the square with your image.

center square sticker
Step Three: Scale the artwork to fit inside the square
center square
  • On your keyboard, HOLD SHIFT + DRAG
  • Size down your artwork so the most significant edges fit inside the box
swap fill and stroke

Next, switch the fill and stroke so the stroke is colored and the fill is empty

red square
Step Four: Copy and Past

Select the design and press COMMAND C to copy 

copy square

Then, press COMMAND F to paste on top of the original artwork; this is to make changes to this copy and not lose or ruin the original.  

paste square
Step Five: Select Image Trace
image trace
  • With the top image selected, go to the window dropdown at the top of the screen, and select Object.
  • Select image trace 
  • Next, select the third icon in the panel, called low color; this will allow Illustrator to work its magic. 
  • Now you have a image traced copy of your design.
image trace panel
Step Six: Expand

In this step, go to the top menu bar and click expand; this makes your life traced image into a vector. 

Step Seven: Remove white background
delete background
  • First, go to the direct section tool or press A 
  • Then select the square around your artwork and hit DELETE
  • Now you have a vector version of your raster image. 
Step Eight: Select Unite under Pathfinder

With the object selected, go to the pathfinder menu and choose unite.

pathfinder panel
Step Nine: Offset Path
offset path window

With your artwork still selected:

  • Go back to the Object dropdown
  • Then go all the way down to Path 
  • Click Offset Path; this will open a dialog box
  • In the dialog box, the Offset should be set at 0.125 inches, Joins should be set to round, and the meter limit should be set to 4.
  • Click OK 
offset path sticker
Step Ten: Swap fill and stroke
swap fill and stroke
resize sticker

Switch the fill and the stroke colors, so you have a nice easy die-line for your custom-shaped sticker.

Under swatches, you can find colors to change the stroke color to something bright. 

swatches panel
resize sticker

Finally, delete you square and now you have a die cut line for a custom sticker!

custom sticker raster image

Your Custom Stickers are now ready to be printed!

Contact Sticker Mountain and make your artwork become a reality! For more step-by-step information, watch our YouTube video below! To order your custom sticker, visit here to quickly get your order started!

Play Video about custom die line for raster and vector images