Whether you need a small batch of business cards or want to put your logo on product packaging, a custom stamp is far more cost-effective than printing. In less time than it would take to order a custom stamp from an online vendor, you can create your own stunning typographic stamps.
If you've ever wanted to get into printmaking, this tutorial will take you through the design and block-carving process. With handmade stamps, you can instantly print your wordmark or logo on business materials. You can also create personalized messages for gifts and turn custom typography into one-of-a-kind linocut prints to create unique greeting cards or inspirational posters.
What You'll Need
Adobe Illustrator or other vector graphic software
If this is your first time carving a stamp by hand, avoid decorative fonts with intricate details, lightweight fonts with thin serifs and layered typefaces. Your stamp design should be solid and free of any delicate design elements that may get lost in the carving process, so opt for a bolder typeface like Hipster Letter, Neoscopic, Alaska or Gorni.
Create Your Design
Before you launch Illustrator, sketch out a few designs to determine the layout of your typographic stamp. Consider using a border, banner or simple fill shape to embellish your stamp. If your business logo uses a thin typeface, setting it within a filled circle or rectangle will let you carve out the letters instead of carving around them.
When you've decided on a layout, create your vector design in Illustrator or your preferred graphic software. Your final design should be clean black-and-white line art, with no drop shadows, gradients or three-dimensional elements.
Print Your Design
If you're creating a stamp for a business card, set your document dimensions to the size you want to carve your stamp, no larger than 3.5 x 2 inches. Printer settings should print the design at 100 percent, with no scaling. Then print in black ink on ordinary white paper.
Transfer Design Onto Stamp Surface
Place your printed art face down onto the linoleum block and transfer the design by rubbing the back of the paper with a firm, flat-edged tool -- a spoon or the edge of a coin will work. If design transfer is too light, simply draw over the design with a ballpoint pen.
Carve Your Design
Once your design is transferred onto the block, you can start carving away whatever you don't want printed. Applying gentle pressure, push the linoleum cutter blade into the surface and carefully gouge the outline of the design. Curved lines can be tricky to maneuver around, so use long, fluid strokes and take your time. Use your knife to cut away excess linoleum and trim the stamp to size.
Prepare Your Stamp for Use
Rinse with warm water and mild soap to clean the stamp and remove debris. When the stamp is dry, test it out on scrap paper to determine whether the design needs further refinements and make adjustments as necessary.
Affix Stamp to Wooden Block (Optional)
For a more finished look, you may want to glue a wooden or acrylic block to the back of the stamp. The block adds stability and lets you apply even pressure for more consistent print.
Keep in mind that your first hand-carved stamp might not have the same laser-like precision as a mechanically produced stamp. Practice creating simple designs on small stamps with easy-to-carve lino blocks until you feel comfortable attempting more ornate designs. Once you master this technique, you'll be putting your unique stamp on everything.