Posted on January 17 2019
This tutorial contains everything you need to know about creating your own, mini strap custom keychains using Adobe Illustrator.
1. Download our templates
To start submitting your custom mini strap keychain designs you’ll need to download our design templates.
Download our Illustrator templates >> here << and open your chosen size.
Each template comes with a working area where you will import or create your designs.
The grey circles represent the areas of your design that will be masked by the rivets once your straps have been constructed.
The 'Centre' represents the middle of your strap once it's been constructed.
The area left of the 'Fold' will be tucked in and hidden once your strap has been constructed.
If your artwork goes right up to the edge of the strap you will need to extend your artwork into the 'Bleed' area to prevent any unprinted areas from showing around the edges of your finished designs. See step 4 for more information on bleed.
2. Understanding our layers
Opening the template, you will notice that there are 4 layers in your Layers palette. If you can't see the Layers palette, hit F7 to make it appear.
IMPORTANT - Please don't rename existing layers or create additional layers as this will confuse our systems when processing your designs.
If you have used any effects / layer styles on any of your layers you MUST flatten them before saving. To do this simply right click on the applicable layer and select 'Rasterize Layer Style' from the menu.
'Office Use Only' Layer
This layer contains the area which your design must sit inside, our logo and a brief description of the template that you are using. DO NOT USE THIS LAYER.
'Artwork A' Layer
We print the 'Artwork A' layer onto the front of the mini strap keychain.
DO NOT FLIP THE ARTWORK ON THIS LAYER.
'Artwork B' Layer
We print the 'Artwork B' layer underneath the 'Artwork A' layer to create a double sided strap. This layer is viewed by looking through the transparent PVC material.
ALL ARTWORK ON THIS LAYER SHOULD BE FLIPPED / MIRRORED, SO THAT IT VIEWS THE CORRECT WAY AROUND WHEN VIEWED THROUGH THE TRANSPARENT PVC MATERIAL.
Use this layer to add a base layer of white ink to your designs. Printed areas with a white base layer will appear opaque. Printed areas with no white base layer will appear translucent.
3. Importing your designs
Select the 'Artwork A' or 'Artwork B' layer and draw your designs directly onto these layers or, copy (CTRL+C) and paste (CTRL+V) previously saved artwork.
Create or paste the artwork that you would like to appear on the 'front' of your strap here. DO NOT FLIP THIS LAYER!
This is where you will create or paste the artwork that you would like to appear on the inside of your strap. ARTWORK ON THIS LAYER SHOULD BE FLIPPED / MIRRORED!
We print your B-Side ('back') underneath the A-Side ('front') design to create an awesome looking double sided strap.
Please note that our transparent strap material does have a slight tint to it, which will make your Side B artwork slightly darker than your Side A artwork. We always recommend ordering samples before placing a larger order so that you can check this.
4. Adding Bleed
If your artwork goes right up to the edge of your cut line you will need to add bleed (colour that extends past the cut line) to your designs to prevent any unprinted edges from showing on your finished straps.
Use the grey border around the edge of the artwork area to extend your artwork by 1.5mm.
5a. Adding a layer of white
Our coloured inks are actually translucent when printed on their own and require a base layer of white ink to sit under them to make them opaque.
Creating your own custom white layer allows you to add different effects to your designs.
Any printed areas without a white base layer will appear translucent. Any areas without coloured ink or white ink will appear transparent.
To create your white base layer, copy and past your artwork onto the 'White' Layer.
Select all of the elements of the copied design and use the 'Combine' function from the 'Pathfinder' menu to merge all of the elements together into 1 shape.
Give this merged shape a 100% Cyan fill with no outlines so that it looks like this...
The 'White' layer can also be used to create areas where you don't want a white base. This effect works especially well on our transparent materials. To create transparencies (areas with coloured ink but no white ink or areas with no ink at all).
To create a transparent area, simply delete any unwanted areas on your white layer using the eraser or any of the other tools at your disposal in Photoshop to achieve your desired effect. You can see this effect on our clear acrylic charms above.
7. Submission checklist
Congratulations, you've finished creating your custom strap designs! All you have to do now is check the following before submission...
- Your artwork fits INSIDE of the grey bleed borders.
- Your bleed extends to the outside of the grey borders.
- Your white base layer is 100% Cyan and is located on the 'White' Layer (Step 5a.)
- All text has been converted to outlines.
- Your strap template contains 1 charm only. Additional charms will be sent separately.
8. Saving and submitting your designs
There are 3 different ways to save and submit your designs...
1. Submit your artwork immediately
If you have already created your designs, you can send them to us using the 'Upload Artwork' button, located on our product pages or by emailing them to ‘email@example.com’.
Save all Photoshop files in .Ai format. Here’s how…
Name each of your designs appropriately so that we know which designs you are referring to. Your file names should include 1. your name, 2. design number, 3. chosen product and 4. the date that you placed your order through our website. Here’s an example…
Select all of the designs that you would like to submit, right click and choose SEND TO > COMPRESSED (ZIPPED) FOLDER.
This will create a compressed folder containing all of your designs. Rename this folder so that it contains your name and the date that you placed your order on our website. Like this…
Please add all of your designs into one folder. So, if you purchased straps, stickers and pins, for example, just pop them all in the same, compressed folder and upload it using the 'Upload Artwork' button.
2. Submit your artwork later
If you have placed your order via our website but your designs aren’t quite ready yet, that’s ok. You have up to 2 weeks to submit your artwork to us, which allows you to take advantage of any special offers that we’re running.
To submit your designs later, save them with 1. your name, 2. design number, 3. chosen product and 4. your order number. Then email them to ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’.
Save all Photoshop files in .Ai format. Here’s how…
3. Placing a re-order
If you have placed an order in the past and would like to re-order those designs that’s great! We store your artwork for a maximum of 6 months, which saves you the hassle of having to resubmit your designs via email.
To place a re-order, simply place your order online, email us with your previous order number(s) and let us know that you are placing a re-order.
You may only want to order 1 or 2 designs from your previous order(s). To do this simply quote your old file name(s) and let us know how you would like them producing and in what quantities.
Here’s how to do it…
I’ve just placed an order #12345 on your website and would like to re-order the following designs from a previous order #12121. Please can I have…
If you have any questions about this tutorial or any other aspects of our website and manufacturing processes, please do not hesitate to get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.