How to efficiently cut from an image

Hello everyone. I hope that this is the correct area to post this. I am not a graphic designer and have little to no experience. However, I have been interested in learning and now I am almost being forced into it. My wife and I have decided to get into vinyl cutting and sublimation so having at least minor skills is going to be beneficial. I’ve got my first opportunity at a job for a friend who opened up a truck repair shop. He took a picture of the truck and needs a duplicate of the vinyl striping design. How can I take this and create an image that has everything cut out except for this decal? I tried opening in inkscape and using the trace bitmap to make a vector but the colors are reading too closely and not separating. I have only Inkscape and GIMP as I can not afford Adobe. Any help or direction is greatly appreciated. Thank you!

You may not like this response and I am sorry, if this sounds a bit harsh, but I am constantly baffled and irritated by the amount of people who say similar things to you. ‘I have very little knowledge and don’t really know what I am doing, but am opening a design-related business doing exactly that.’ Absolutely nothing wrong with the first part of that statement, but combined with the second half…

How is that fair to people who are offering you money for a service? You have to know exactly what you are doing before selling a service. How come this is so prevalent throughout the design industry? You’d never get away with that as a lawyer, chiropractor, or pretty much any job where you are selling a service based on knowledge and skill.

Personally, I’d say learn the craft, spend countless hours getting good at it. Then go get a couple of years experience in the industry. Then – maybe then – you will be equipped to run your own business – assuming, as well, that you have any sense of business acumen.

Even the questions you ask expose your inexperience. As I say, I n itself, that’s not a bad thing. There are hundreds of people here that would help you out. We all started somewhere. What irks me is the blatant admission that you don’t know what you are doing yet still want to open a business – unless of course you plan on employing someone with the requisite knowledge and experience.

When I need signage producing, the guy I go to has 30 years of experience and has met every pitfall there is. He knows how to solve every problem he comes across. He also has kids working for him who are learning from him, so that in 5-10 years’ time they will be equipped to offer customers help and advice. That’s the way it works.

As for your actual,issue, you will almost certainly need to learn illustrator and photoshop,as well as some other industry-specific software – others here are better placed to advise on this than me. If you are going to offer a professional service, used by designers, then chances are, they are going to be sending you files in adobe formats. You can’t open a business and tell customers that you can’t afford the necessary software. You have to invest in a business. In the short term, to learn, you could try the affinity software. It would not then be a massive leap to adobe.

Your question, I am afraid, does not have a simple answer. It all depends on the specific image and specific problem. If we could see the image, we could help determine the best solution.

Again, I apologise if all this sounds harsh, but an honest opinion has to better than feint praise. The stakes are too high, if you go into a business without knowing what you are doing, many before you have lost their houses over it. Learn, learn and learn some more. And then when you think you know everything, never assume you do.

I am not saying don’t do it, but go in with your eyes open. That way you won’t be one of the 30% of businesses that fail in their first year,


This sounds more like an Etsy enterprise.
Sublimation on chatchies that fade over time, and cut logos in low-performance 3-year vinyl…a lot of them trademark infringements.
See it all the time. They come. They go.

Pen tool and skill. The only way to copy pinstriping.
Actually, you might need to measure the truck too.

You can get help here, and several other online destinations, when you encounter difficulty with a particular aspect of a task, or with some software feature or other, but that’s not what you’re asking here. Your post is something more like: “I don’t really know how to fix cars, but I’ve opened a service station and my first customer has a blown head gasket. I can’t afford wrenches, but I have pliers that I used to get the first 2 bolts out, and I admit it’s not really going well. Even if I can get all the bolts out, I’m not sure what to do after that. Can someone tell me how to do this without the right tools, education, or experience?”

Of course, no one can. Sorry.


Well put.

Can’t improve on this advice. ^

Perhaps you and your wife should choose a business where at least one of you already has knowledge.

No one can force you into a business against your will.

There’s obviously more to this whole story than we know about, but I agree with the others. Jumping into this headfirst with no experience is a recipe for failure.

If you’re interested in it, though, why not just look for a job in the production end of this particular niche of the industry. With no experience, it might be hard to land that first job and the pay might not be all that great, but it might get you started in a way that doesn’t have catastrophe written all over it.

We all started someplace, and the beginning is the logical place for that.

Being forced to learn the software means someone has come to a hobbyist for a custom job when they are just used to using downloadable stock files. I know a lot of people that do that using low end CriCut-type plotters, their vector files and their not so great vinyl stock (3 year exterior = low end - and that’s their premium stock…:face_vomiting:)

Thank you for your replies. So I didn’t phrase my question right. Yes we got the stuff as part of our business. However, we did not go out looking for customers as I stated this job happens to be for a friend so I am trying to help him out. We have a homestead and frequent markets as well as have some local stores our products are in. We got the equipment and have been working on designs for t-shirts. The only reason I am doing this job is that it is a friend and it allows the opportunity to learn. However, instead of giving any tips y’all just took time basically saying asking for help was stupid which obviously it was. I ended up touching up the image and was able to separate out the design and just finished creating the vector of it.

Out vinyl cutter is a 28" which is perfect for what we need it for. Yes at this point we are more of hobbyist as we’re learning and as I just posted the only reason for doing this particular job is it’s for a friend. Now, as for vinyl quality I have an issue with cheap. My decal vinyl is 3M which is 6 year exterior.

Well, a quick written introduction to a complex problem is always subject to lots of misinterpretations and mistaken assumptions. Even so, it’s never stupid to ask.

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3M Calendered (“low end” for 3M) is 5 years.
3M High performance cast is 7 years.
Avery A900 Supercast is a 9-12 year product

All dependent on environment. The only thing we use calendered product for is short term interior. Calendered is more apt to crack and leave adhesive residue once its “removeable” life cycle is up (about 3 years. Less if it’s one of the 3 year indoor Oracal products.)

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Dude, this sounded like you were going into a business where you have no experience. And were asking for help and advice on a project where you also don’t have the usual software.

Based on that initial information, we were trying to help you avoid a train wreck.

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The vinyl that I bought is the 3M Premium Cast. I have 3630 and 7125. The 3630 is translucent which is probably why it has the 6 year rating and not the 7 like the 7125.(After a quick search the 3M 3630 has online retailers saying both 6 year and 7 year.) I am not familiar with the Avery A900 I definitely could see where using that when doing custom work would be beneficial. Just looking at pricing alone, I’m surprised there’s not more of a price gap between Avery A900 and the 3M high performance.

During high school and college I worked for a company that did all types of promotional products. I wish I had pictures of the set up. They did injection moldings, thermoforming, heat sealing, digital printing, laser engraving, hot stamping, and screen printing. We had an employee who did nothing but doing tool and dye creating the different presses we’d need for jobs. They had over 200 employees when I was working there. I digress.

Again, thank you for mentioning Avery. Even though I recall seeing the name on the store menu I am so used to their cheap products like their “business card paper”.

Please note vinyl cutting is very simple and don’t get upset with the comments you already got. Of course it needs a little common sense. The art is purely based on vector graphics and not raster. If you also posses a colour printer you can combine vector and raster together. First you go you Utube and know what is vector and what is raster. I use Corel draw for vector and Adobe Photoshop for raster graphics.I also started my carrier from scratch learning through Utube and training sites and matching the knowledge with my common sense I now run the business for the past 20 years successfully. You can do it . If you need any help send the file and details to me. I shall help for no charges.Be positive. With regards, Krishnanunni,

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