How to prepare artwork for stickers printing

Most of the time if you want to make stickers from your art you are going to need an outline around that artwork. It’s good if your artwork has outline already and you can select it, but what if like my artworks they are just one white color. I color the paper black when I draw so there is no outline to select, because the black is remove after scanning the artwork. You can always create a layer underneath the artwork and color it by hand, but that takes a lot of work and the results are not very precise, not to my liking at all.

We need artwork like on the left, but after scanning it and removing the black we have the one on the right.

In this blog post I want to share the solution I found to solve this problem with the Inkscape program. Who knows, maybe someone has the same issue. So, let’s begin!

Import your artwork into Inkscape. Make sure to reduce its size before you do so, because we will need to vectorize the artwork later. For the stickers, since they are small scale, we actually don’t need much details in the artwork, so some loss is actually desirable.

After importing the artwork we need to vectorize it. Read more here on -> how to do it and how to get the best results.

Then draw a shape around the artwork like in the picture below (don’t go over the edges or this won’t work). Move the shape to the bottom layer. Select the artwork and the shape and press Path->Difference. We do this to remove the rectangle background and leave just the transparent artwork itself.

Now select the artwork and add very thick stoke around it, like 60px or 100px (depends on the artwork, experiment there and see what you like). Since the stroke is so thick it will almost create the solid background behind the artwork and also bleed off a little bit around the artwork (that’s exactly what we need). Format the stroke like in the picture below to get the effect we desire.

    Duplicate the artwork. Remove the fill for one version and the stroke for another. Export 2 versions of it – one is the black filled background and the other one is the artwork itself, just white color.

    Final step is combining these 2 files that we just exported into one. You can do with any program of your liking, I am doing it with ArtRage, since that’s what I am using most of the time (I could even do it in the Inkscape itself, but for some lag issues with that program I am choosing another option).

    Now the background behind the artwork is not always filled completely by Inkscape, as you can see in the previous picture, but that’s very easy to fix – just color the holes and merge 2 layers. Export the file as .png and there you go, we have a perfect file to make stickers from.

        In conclusion, this method is way faster than making the outline by hand with a graphics tablet and way more accurate. The result looks nice to me. Let me know what you think about this! I would also be very happy to hear if you have a better method to do this?
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