When I started making Printables with the intent to sell them in my Etsy Shop, I wasn’t sure where to begin. For a long time, I used Silhouette Studio to make my own art because it was quick and I would purchase elements from the Silhouette shop. I could buy commercial licenses from Silhouette but I really had a passion to learn how to make my own professional graphics outside of Silhouette Studio.
I looked around for resources on the web, but I had to piece things together on my own because all of the tutorials cost money. I get it; people want to make a living, but I was a little surprised that no one had bothered to make a free tutorial. I have been buying printable invitations and art on Etsy for years (when I don’t have time to make my own) and I knew I could figure it out on my own. Plus, everyone does them a little bit different anyway, so I wanted to develop a method that worked for me and my business.
I believe that knowledge is power, and that everyone has something unique to bring to the table. And I really want to encourage other potential designers out there. So, I figured I’d show you how I personally make my printables. Every printable is a little different in terms of style and what goes into it of course, so this isn’t a one size fits all tutorial. But, it’ll give you a general idea of the work that goes into it.
I use Adobe Illustrator and have a Creative Cloud Business subscription (not an affiliate link). I really enjoy working in it and I find it creates the most professional looking printables.
What is Adobe Illustrator?
Adobe Illustrator is a program used by graphic designers, artists, creatives, what have you, that allows you to make vector images. These images can be sized up and down without getting pixelated and looking funky, and it lets you make logos, print work, all sorts of cool stuff.
I highly recommend the 2017 Adobe Illustrator Classroom in a Book (yep, that’s an affiliate link) if you’re interested in learning more about Adobe Illustrator. It’s what I use and frequently reference when I get stuck. It’s helpful, practical, and really helps you soak up the skills you need to be comfortable in Illustrator. That doesn’t mean that you can’t use free online software like PicMonkey or Canva for your own personal use printables, but I chose the Adobe route for my business. I felt it gave me the most room to grow as a professional.
I’m doing this Tutorial on my MacBook Air with Adobe Illustrator 2017 CC (Creative Cloud).
Let’s Do This Thing!
How I Make Printable Art in Adobe Illustrator
First, I start with my template in Adobe Illustrator. I have an extra rectangle in here for graphic purposes, but I assure you it does not appear in the final print.
For this tutorial, I’m making Clipping Mask art. So I’m opening a picture I took in order do that. I didn’t even take it with our DSLR, I used my iPhone and VSCO app to make it pretty. I had to size it down, which on my Mac I used Command and minus (-) to zoom out, then I sized down my selected picture. I hold the shift key as I resize to keep the picture from looking disproportionate.
Now, I’m going to place some text over it. I select my Type Tool (T on the Keyboard) I selected Oswald Bold in all caps, and sized it to 125 pt. I chose Oswald Bold because #1 it’s free for Commercial Use. #2, it’s a thick font, and that’s what we want so we can really see the pretty flowers coming through.
If you’re really, really new to Illustrator, you’ll notice that the Font drop down only goes to 72 pt. This means you’ll have to type it in. Next, using my selection tool (V on the keyboard) I arrange the text over my picture so I can get a lot of pretty colors into my Clipping Mask. When I’m happy with the text placement, still using my Selection Tool on my Mac I hold the Shift key and click my text and flowers.
Now, I’m going to hit Command and the 7 key. And look at the magic that happens! Here is where I adjust my text to my liking and center it nicely.
Now, saving it in this state, it would be in the .ai format. My customers probably don’t have Adobe Illustrator, so it wouldn’t be very nice to just leave it that way. So I’m going to save this file as a PDF. Then I hit Command and S on my Keyboard brings up my Save options (or File>Save As if you prefer to mouse around).
And done! Now we have a pretty piece of art!
So there you have it! That’s how I make my printable art. There’s a ton of other great things you can do in Adobe Illustrator, and I’ve got big plans to show you as much in my shop. 🙂