Need To Know
There are two main options for window graphics: cut coloured vinyl or printed vinyl.
Cut vinyl is the traditional way for creating graphics and signage onto glass. Working with a vector file, single or multiple colours can be cut and layered to create the design. Digitally printed graphics can be printed onto on white or clear vinyl, creating effects ranging from semi-transparent through to opaque installations. The fact that the design is printed, means you can create full photo-realistic effects.
“I regularly use Exhibit Printing for window graphics, installations, set builds and artwork printing. They are quick, have incredible attention to detail and are perfectionists” – Irregular Choice
All projects can be created as temporary or permanent installs. We are always happy to advise on the best approach for your project. If you don’t have graphics prepared we can provide a design service that can produce your graphics from scratch. We will work from any pictures, logos or idea you already have.
Please give us a ring or send an email to discuss your project: [email protected]
So I have just opened up this file. It is a window graphic and is going to be produced in block colour cut vinyl, for a local business called Photomatic. This will be applied to the inside of the window. In the artwork you can see a graphic built up of yellow, black and red. In reality, black represents the clear glass so this will be negative space (it will be cut away). The yellow actually represents white. As you cannot see white on a white background, often designers pick a random colour to represent white. Lastly, the red represents red vinyl.
So now we will move over to my cut file which I have prepped for cutting. You will see it is in outline mode. In this artwork you can see that the graphic is made up of a series of lines. This is the main difference between vector file and a bitmap file. If someone just sent me an image of the graphic then the vinyl cutter wouldn’t have any information to follow. However, with a vector file the graphic has defined paths which the computer will send to the vinyl cutter and that is the course it will take. Afterwards will we have the manual task of weeding, where the little bits will need to be removed, such as the stripes, are manually removed. This process is known as weeding. It will then be prepared for application and later on we will be fitting it.
Here you can see the vinyl cutter in action. It moves the media backward and forward and also moves side to side, using a small blade and just the right amount of pressure in order to cut through the top layer of vinyl but not the release liner underneath.
So this stage is referred to as weeding. The vinyl has been cut but so far the graphic hasn’t been revealed. Once I have finished the weeding the next stage is the application tape. Essentially this is a big sheet of masking tape which can be used to lift all the individual elements off in a single piece. With the graphic we have just been working on I will lie the graphic face down onto the application tape. I am then going to take a squeegee and start with some light pressure. This stage doesn’t really need to be pretty as it is just a functional layer.
Here is a quick run down of the standard tools I would take to site. A spirit level, tape measure, tissue, methylated spirits (alcohol is great for cleaning existing vinyl off the glass), scalpel and scissors. A standing knife blade is fantastic for scraping off glass at a low angle. We have also got a squeegee just for cleaning the window. A couple of fitting squeegees are used for applying the graphics. Then we have got a water spray bottle and some washing up liquid. The only other thing needed is some masking tape or sellotape, depending on the surface that you need to tack your graphics up to. Then we are good to go.
Here I am using a standing knife blade in order to peel the existing graphic off the window, to get it ready for the fresh installation. I’m just finishing off by using some methylated spirits on a piece of tissue in order to remove any remaining glue residue on the glass. Now we are ready to place the graphic. I am using a laser level in order to make sure that it is perfectly straight however you can use a spirit level or tape measure. I have created a hinge in the middle of the graphic using some standard packaging tape. This sticks well to glass. If you were doing this on a wall you would want to use masking tape as tapes like packaging tape would take the paint off. On cold glass this is perfect. I have folded the graphic back on itself, and now I can start to peel off the release liner. I will continue doing this until the adhesive of the graphic is exposed all the way along. Do this nice and slowly, just checking that none of the graphic is left on the release liner. The final step is to grab your scissors and trim away the release liner. Now when you fold the graphic back the adhesive will stick directly to the glass. Now using the squeegee, I systematically move along, applying the adhesive to the glass. Now I flip the graphic over, peeling away the release liner from the other side and I am going to repeat the process. We are now ready to remove the application tape. I am pulling it back slowly, using a nice low angle which prevents you from pulling the graphic away from the glass at any point.
For this final section we are going to use a wet application process as we need to accurately place this red element over the existing white part of the graphic. As you can see I am peeling the release liner away, just as I did previously, however the difference is that I am about to spray it with water (and a tiny bit of washing up liquid). This is going to help me manoeuvre the piece into place. As you can see, the wet application gives me a little bit more control and movability. Once I am finally happy with the position I will squeegee out the water and then wait 20 to 30 minutes before I remove the application tape. This project will then be complete. It seems obvious now but this is why the graphic is produced in reverse. From the outside you can see that the finished graphic reads correctly.