Once your artwork is complete, you’ll need to prepare your file for the vinyl printing and cutting process. Change all strokes to filled objects by selecting everything (Cmd/Ctrl + A) and click Object > Path > Outline Stroke, then select all again and click Object > Expand Appearance. Now resize your artwork to the exact size for print production.
For the vinyl cutting, you will need to create an outline around your entire artwork – this is the line that the vinyl machine will cut. For larger pieces you may want to have around 3mm of bleed allowance. Select your outline, click New Swatch in the drop-down menu on your Swatch palette as shown above. Name the swatch ‘Cutcontour’, click Spot Color in the Color Type menu and then make the line 100% magenta.
With your .ai file all set, take it to the printers. To ensure there are no mistakes (which can prove expensive as well as annoying) check that every element of your artwork is perfect, including the linework, colours and cutting lines. Working closely with your chosen vinyl cutter and printer can be priceless; they can give advice specific to your needs and your design.
The artwork will be printed and the outlines cut all in one go. What you will get will be the vinyl sticker with protective papers on both sides. When you receive it, don’t peel either side off until you’re ready to install. Cut out each element with around an inch of space all the way around.