Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab
Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab

Sticker: Bobby Zahn

In class, I made two practice stickers: a giraffe-groundhog griffin, and an Umbreon.

My Umbreon’s eyes turned out a little funny-looking because it was hard to get the placement right with no references to line them up. I originally wanted to make a Ninetales, but Ninetales has fewer obvious markings to break up a silhouette, and I didn’t see multiple shades of pale yellow vinyl so any attempts at doing lighting/shadows instead would probably look funny.

For my final project, I chose to make a sticker for my girlfriend of her favorite hero from the game Overwatch, Ana Amari.

I based my sticker off a drawing of Ana’s Cabana skin by @irlwitch on Twitter. I chose this image because of its simplicity. The artist uses clear, distinct shapes and colors without making the proportions too cartoony, which makes their style good for converting to a layered sticker.

I started by trying to trace the bitmap of the image in multiple scans, but I found that it was too complicated to work as intended. So instead, I brought the image into GIMP and used the intelligent scissors tool to simplify the image into six discrete shades. I was aiming for a minimalist style to make it easier to put the sticker together, so I left out all the facial features, the shading and shadows, as well as small details like Ana’s neck and the rim of her hat. I originally wanted to include her hand shushing, but it looked weird without her mouth and with her finger blending into her face.

Next, I imported the image into Inkscape and traced the bitmap to vectorize it. I smoothed out the curves and used the path editing tools to eliminate gaps and overlapping. I learned my lesson from my placement trouble with Umbreon and tried to leave little clues to help with the layer placement. For instance, there’s the little bump of the scarf onto the left edge of the face to help line up those pieces, since otherwise it could be hard to figure out the perfect alignment for the face piece, especially with my original intention of making the hair color be the background. I ultimately decided to change the shoulders to match the hat color and use that as the background because the pale yellow flower blended in too much with the yellowish hair, and I remembered from class that there weren’t enough available shades of pale yellows/beiges to distinguish them. Instead, I changed the hair to a light gray shade more accurate to the character’s in-game appearance. In-game, Ana’s hair and sunglasses are actually almost white, but I used light gray to avoid confusion with the white default background in Inkscape, and also because the bright white was kind of glaring.

As it turned out, I managed to find vinyl squares that almost perfectly matched the shades I wanted. I used the select-by-color option in the Silhouette program to print out each colored section separately. Except for the base hat layer, none of the layers are stacked on top of each other. Instead, I cut them so that their edges would line up and make it easier to get the placement right. I also wanted to avoid making the sticker too thick. I forgot to take pictures while printing the sticker out and putting it together, but here are pictures of the last layer (the sunglasses and eye patch) and the finished product.

Overall, I think the sticker turned out nicely, and my girlfriend likes it. I definitely learned from my practice Umbreon sticker a lot which helped the process for the Ana sticker go smoothly.

The toughest part was lining up all the pieces perfectly. If you look closely, there are gaps between some of the edges, especially between the face and hair. Alas, if only the real world had an option to automatically snap cusp nodes together like in Inkscape! To avoid the hat color showing through the gaps, it might be possible to make each successive layer entirely filled in, but then it would be harder to figure out where to line up the top layers (the same problem I had with Umbreon), especially with stuff like the sunglasses lens. I think the beige hat color is discreet enough that it’s not a big deal where it shows through, but maybe for a sticker with a bolder background color it would be better to use a different method.

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