Clear labels and stickers are great for car windows, glass jars, wood, diy gifts, bottle labels, and other places where full print stickers would be a bother. Luckily, you can make your own transparent stickers right at home. All you need is an inkjet printer or laser printer and some special paper.
Unlike the packing tape method (more on that below), these clear stickers will be sale quality, meaning that you can put them in your shop on Etsy or other online platforms and make your money back. You ready?
To make clear stickers, you will need a printer, clear sticker paper, and a Cricut machine if you want them die cut. Scissors work too – but you'll have to be really careful.
Step One: Designing Clear Stickers
We've talked about learning to draw and designing your own stickers before, but DIY clear labels take a special touch. When you're doing art, you often use white as a way to add highlights to a piece. Laser printers come with four ink types: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. There's no white to be found, anywhere.
On traditional paper, this is fine. The white background of traditional paper serves as the white that your laser printer or inkjet printer uses to make your art. On a clear label, however, there's no white. This means that you won't be able to show highlights with white.
Clear labels also take an extra step when you go to cut them with a Cricut cutting machine or a Silhouette cutting machine. More on that in a moment.
Step Two: Printing Clear Labels
The best way how to make clear stickers is to make sure you have the correct paper. I've found that the best source of clear labels is OnlineLabels, but you can get your clear label paper from many different suppliers. Pay attention to the type of paper: you'll need to make sure it's compatible with your printer. Laser paper is coated differently than ink jet paper, and vice versa.
After that, you'll really just need to print. Try your usual printer settings first, and then you can go in and adjust things like color or paper type if the ink doesn't look right. I've found with my HP printer that adjusting the color to “Vivid (sRGB)” makes my printer print exactly what I see on the computer screen. Adjusting the paper type to a thicker paper will also help it print slower and avoid smudging.
Leave your printed paper alone for a minute before picking it up. The transparent background means that it's easier to smudge the finished product – especially with an inkjet.
Step Three: How To Make Clear Stickers (Cutting The Printed Product)
Now that you've got your paper printed and ready, you just need to cut them out to make them perfect! If you don't have a Cricut, you'll need to use scissors or an Xacto knife to do your dirty work. Work in a well lit space and watch your fingers. If you're feeling really fancy, you could print the cut lines out on a white piece of paper then use it as a template below the clear paper to cut a little straighter.
But, for the best results, you'll need to use a Cricut. Set up a Print And Cut project and set your material thickness to Cardstock. This should work for most labels. Your Cricut machine won't be able to read the black cut border without a sheet of white paper below, so when you assemble your mat, you'll need to attach your printed clear sticker paper to a sheet of white copy paper with some tape, then attach both to your Cricut mat.
Watch as the Cricut reads the Print and Cut border, because sometimes, high gloss labels can interfere with Cricut's algorithm. If it starts cutting crooked, turn it off, adjust your ambient lighting, and try again. This is unusual, but it can happen. One major downside of making your own stuff.
The Packing Tape Method For Clear Stickers
Everyone loves a good DIY, but sometimes putting your own custom designs on transparent stickers just isn't worth it. Most websites recommend the “tape method” for transparent stickers. I do not – here's why.
The tape stick method requires packing tape, a laser printer, white copy paper, and scissors. They say it's an easy DIY project, but honestly – if you've already got a laser printer, why not just buy some specialty paper and save yourself some time?
The basic premise is as follows. You print out your design on white copy paper. You cover it with tape – the tape adheres to the printed surface. Then, you soak the surface in water and let it be wet for a while. Gently rub the white copy paper away, and it'll dissolve and leave the toner behind. The packing tape serves as your adhesive, keeps its sticky side, and you can just trim it to the size that you want. Voila! A clear sticker.
Problem One: Scale and Time
I hate this method. First off, it can take about an hour to make one piece of clear label paper. That's a lot of time for just a few transparent stickers. You can use all the paper in the world, but dissolving paper is going to take hours or even days. A packing tape image transfer is just not quick. Maybe if you're making one of your own DIY labels, but more than one sheet would be awful.
Problem Two: Quality Control
Tape comes in different sizes and stickiness. You may accidentally buy thin tape that tears, or sticky tape that just isn't sticky enough. There are too many variables with a packing tape image transfer that don't translate well to consistency between items. Your transparent stickers will be very unique, but that doesn't mean that you'll be able to sell them.
Problem Three: There's An Easier Solution
The “tape method” of making transparent stickers is a perfect example of something that should be avoided. It's like if someone wanted to carve a figurine out of wood, and to do so, they planted a tree and waited five years. The joy isn't in the prep – it's in the carving. So skip the waiting and just buy the piece of wood. Or in this case, buy the special paper for transparent stickers.
Likewise, why go through all the trouble of making your own DIY clear labels when there are so many options for purchase? Making your own transparent stickers is incredibly easy when you just buy the paper. Also, it's affordable to make your own transparent stickers on clear label paper. Emphasis for clarity.
If you just buy the paper, you can focus more of your attention on designing for transparent background. Or, you can spend more time making dozens or hundreds of your own transparent stickers. You can save your packing tape for packing or something. You can go to your local coffee shop with all the time you save by avoiding thin tape and crappy prints.
So I Can Really Just Print My Own Transparent Stickers?
Yes. In this case – it's literally not rocket science. If you don't have a laser printer, your local library or UPS Store does. They'd be happy to help you print your own transparent stickers. No tape required.