An in depth, step by step guide for designing and making your own DIY customized lighters to promote your band or brand. This complete guide covers everything from designing your custom lighters to ordering the stickers, and applying them, free template included!
Customized lighters are a great way to promote your band or brand
They’re like a business card, only more useful! Think about it, you give someone a lighter with your logo on it, they lose it at a bar or a party, or loan it to a friend or even a total stranger and never get it back, someone else ends up with it and the next thing you know they’re checking out your website or Facebook page! Furthermore people LOVE free stuff, you can get blank lighters for little over a dollar each if you buy in bulk (50 packs), add the cost of your custom lighter stickers, and maybe you spend about $1.25 total for each custom lighter, and a little bit of time to create and apply the stickers. Now say you have a gig coming up in a nearby town where nobody knows who you are yet, maybe you pay a visit to that town a few weeks ahead, stop by as many bars and venues you can find that book your genre of bands and leave a few lighters on all the tables for customers to pick up. Now for $1.25 or less, you’ve put your band name and logo in the eyes of at least one person who might have an interest in your band, and probably more than one, what a deal! You won’t get every single person who gets one to check your band out, but you’ll still put your name in their head, and they will remember that you gave them something for nothing. Besides all that, considering how cheaply they can be made, why wouldn’t you want a custom branded lighter?
This is going to be a LONG Article! But I will do my best to write this tutorial so anyone can follow it regardless of their experience level in graphic design. Lets get started! Firstly, you will need a graphics editing program to design your custom lighter, Photoshop is ideal if you have it. If you don’t, google search for “Gimp”, it’s free, and you can get by on it, just know that if you use Gimp your final product may differ slightly in color.
A word on color and colorspaces: Your computer or phone screen uses RGB colorspace, the screen itself is made from tiny little dots called pixels, which can emit Red, Green, or Blue light (RGB) to display an image. Physical media like the custom lighter stickers we are going to make, is printed in the CMYK colorspace, because the printer has four colors of ink: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (CMYK). Photoshop can handle using the CMYK Colorspace to create your graphics, and therefore when you save your output file in the CMYK Colorspace, you can open the output file and see a fairly accurate representation of what your custom lighter stickers will look like. If you use Gimp, you will only be working in the RGB Colorspace, the print company will convert your final output file to the correct Colorspace for you, but you will not see it until you receive your actual stickers.
Click here to see example images from PsPrint with RGB compared to CMYK Colorspaces, so you know what to expect. (This link will open in a new tab)._*
I will write this walkthrough for Gimp, but you should be able to follow it in Photoshop just the same.
Once you have your graphics program installed and ready, you’ll need that free Template I mentioned! Click here to download it now.
Create your Artwork
Open up Gimp (or Photoshop) and go to
File > Open, and choose the Template file you just downloaded. I also recommend turning on “Single Window Mode”, from the top menu bar click
Windows > Single Window Mode. You should have something similar to the image below. On the screenshot below you can see on the far left side is the Layers tab, think of layers as separate images stacked on top of each other, this allows us to make changes to individual elements without effecting others. To the right of that is the tools tab, in this tutorial we will primarily be using the Text tool (Big letter “A” Icon), and the Move tool (The Icon looks like a plus sign with arrows on all ends).
Before we get started it’s always good practice to make sure the Print size is set correctly, because if we want to increase the resolution later we will have to essentially start over, so let’s make sure it’s correct now. Click
Image > Print Size, a window will pop up with some information on it, to the right of the Width/Height boxes there is a dropdown menu that probably says “mm”, click that and select “inches”. Now verify that our lighter sticker template is
3 inches, with X and Y Resolution of
300 Pixels per Inch, or 300 PPI (or DPI, which are arguably similar, but let’s not get into that here). Click
OK on that window when you are done.
From the top menu bar choose
File > Save As, give your project a name and choose a good place to save it. This way we are not saving over the Template file as we work, and when we’re done, we will keep this file somewhere because it can always be edited in Gimp with the layers we’ve set up, so changes can be made without starting the whole project over.
Now lets add a background image, if you want to use a solid color, use the color selector under the layers tab to choose a color, then right click on the Template layer in the Layers tab, and choose
New Layer, select
Foreground Color under
Layer Fill Type, and hit
To use an image as a background,
choose File > Open As Layers, and select your background image.
Now from the top menu bar choose
Layer > Scale Layer, in the dialog box you will find the size of the image in Width and Height. Click on the lower of the two numbers, doesn’t matter if it’s Width or Height, change it’s value to
900 and press enter (the other number should change as well when you do so). Now click
Scale, this will resize the image to fit your design. If either of these numbers is lower than
900 before you Scale it, I would recommend finding a different image, scaling down doesn’t hurt anything but scaling up will reduce quality and make the image look bad. If you scale down and decide you want less of the image to show (you scaled down more than you wanted to, or you want to crop some of the background image out), click
Edit > Undo, and Scale again choosing a value higher than
900, always avoid scaling up if you can.
Why 900?: Our final product will be
3 inches, at
300 pixels per inch. So we multiply that
300 ppi by the
3 inches for Height (or Width, since they are the same size), and that gives us
900 pixels. For example, a
5 inch wide by
7 inch tall photo at
300 ppi would be
1,500 pixels wide by
2,100 pixels tall.
For the type of background I have used, we want our image to be right side up when the lighter is standing up, it’s up to you how you want to orient your background image, but I highly recommend doing it this way. From the top menu bar choose
Layer > Transform > Rotate 90° Clockwise.
You will notice on the
Layers tab on the left hand side of the screen, there are now two layers, the
Lighter Wrap Template layer is on the bottom, and your background layer is on top of the list. Click and drag the background layer below the Template layer on the list, this will put the Template back on top, and you will then see it in the main image. You may need to do this periodically throughout the project, just keep in mind if something disappears it’s probably buried in the other layers and you can easily fix this by rearranging them. Now is a good time to save your work, from the top menu bar choose
File > Save.
Let’s take a look at the template in the image below and explain it a little better. The big square dotted line is the
trim box, you’ll want to make sure your background covers the entire image, but anything outside that square box will be cut off on the prints. But we still need extra image there, because the stickers are cut in bulk, and may not all line up exactly. To ensure you don’t have an ugly white line on any of the edges of the sticker, the print company will make your stickers larger than needed, then cut them down to size. This is why we are making our image
3 inches, but the actual final size will be
The two smaller rectangular boxes are the areas of the sticker that will fall on the front and back face of the lighter. The top box is the front of the lighter, we’re going to put our band logo here, and the bottom box is the back, where we will put any additional information we might want on the back of the lighter.
Click the Text tool (Big Letter “A” Icon), down below you will find options for font type, size, and color. Choose a font, and start with a size of 200, this may need to be adjusted depending on your font, that’s ok. Choose a color you want for your font, and don’t worry if it’s not a color that stands out well on the background, we will fix that, you can see in the image below that the red text doesn’t look so great right now on that background, no worries! Click somewhere toward the left middle of your image and type your band name, the text will not be in the right spot yet, no big deal, you can go back and adjust the size and other font settings to your liking now.
Move tool (Icon looks like a plus sign with arrows on all ends), make sure the text layer is selected in the Layers tab (it will usually be named the same as the text you typed in it, for example my text layer is named
Sacred Asylum), you can click on the text layer to select it if it is not already selected. Now you can click and drag the text on the image to be inside the template box, make sure you click on the actual text. If you click outside of the text it will move the background layer instead, just drop it wherever and choose
Edit > Undo, this is easier than trying to line the background up perfectly again. If you need to resize the text again after moving it, click the text layer in the layers tab to highlight it, click the
Text tool, then click on the text in the image, you should see a cursor on the image when you do, now you can change the text settings and it will apply the changes for you. If you do not click in the text, the changes will not be applied, if you click outside of the text, it will create a new text layer (
Edit > Undo is your friend!). Don’t be a victim, save your work!
Time to make that text stand out, in the Layers tab, move your template layer back to the top. Right click on your text layer, and choose
Duplicate Layer. Keep in mind that you cannot change any of the words in the text after this point, so now’s the time to spell check!
You should have two text layers now, both exactly the same. On the top text layer, click the little icon to the left that looks like an eye, that layer is now hidden from view, we’ll come back to this later. Select the bottom text layer (this one should still have the eye icon next to it, leave that one turned on).
Text tool, then click on the text to bring the cursor up. Now under the text tool change the color to a good contrasting color, usually black or white works best, I chose black for my Lighter Stickers.
From the top menu bar, choose
Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur. In the dialog box, change the values until you get something similar to the image below, and click OK.
You should have something like the image below now. In the layers tab, click the empty space to the left of the top text layer, this should bring back the Eye icon, and make your original text layer re-appear on the image. Now right click the bottom text layer that we made blurry, and choose
Duplicate Layer. Make as many duplicates as you want, the more you make the more your text will stand out.
In the image below you can see my text really looks nice with
7 blurred layers, so I will stop there. Now in the
layers tab, right click the top text layer, and choose
Merge Down. Repeat this until all of the copies are merged to one single layer for that particular area of text. You can double click on the name of the layer to rename it if you’d like, then press
enter to apply the new name. Repeat the above steps for any text you want to place on the back of the lighter. Remember to save your work along the way!
In the image below, you can see I chose to merge all the elements on the back of my lighter stickers into one layer called
Back. I would recommend against that, I only did that because I had already created this graphic in Photoshop, and I exported the back elements from there in one layer to save time, but in my Photoshop original I have each element on it’s own layer (
Facebook text, and
If you want to add a QR code, there are many free QR code generators on the web, I personally like QR-Code-Generator.com (
to open in new tab). You can download your code from there, and in Gimp choose
File > Open As Layers to bring it into your project, you will probably have to scale it down but that’s ok.
Let’s take a second now and make sure we have everything where we want it. Check the
trim lines and make sure everything is within it’s boxes like the image below.
In the layers tab, click the Eye Icon next to the Template layer, this will get all those dotted lines off the image. Make sure you do this before you export, you do not want dotted lines all over your custom lighter stickers, they will look ridiculous!
Now save your work for the last time, you will not want to save again after the next steps.
In the top menu bar,
choose Image > Flatten Image. Check one more time to make sure those pesky dotted lines are gone! You’ll notice there is now only one layer in the Layers tab.
From the top menu bar, choose
File > Export As. In the dialog box, change the name to
LighterWrap.pdf, you can use a different name, but make sure it ends with
Submit your Artwork to Print
Now let’s submit our custom lighter stickers to a print company, I have used several companies over the years, but I recommend PsPrint. It seems like they’re always running a sale of some kind, the prices are low, and I’ve always been very pleased with the quality of their prints.
Click here to open PsPrint.com in a new tab.
Choose 2.75″ for both Height and Width, and choose Vinyl (UV Coating) For Paper. Click the Upload Now button, and choose the PDF file we created.
After it uploads, A dialog box will pop up with a preview of your graphic and some trim lines. Double check that all your text is within the smallest dotted square (it should be, since we used my template, The preview on this page will look crummy and low resolution, but don’t worry, your stickers will look crisp and clean when they arrive!). Click
Now you can enter your zip code, and play with the quantity to see the prices, as with all print companies, the higher the quantity of your order the less you will pay per copy.
After you complete your order, go sit on your front porch until your order arrives. Bonus points if you wear an itchy sweater the entire time, this will make your custom lighters look even better. (For legal reasons I must advise that you don’t actually do that!)
Apply your Stickers to Lighters
Now that your custom lighter stickers have arrived, let me show you the best way I’ve found to apply them to a lighter. You will need a hobby knife. These custom lighter stickers are designed to be a little longer than needed on purpose. If they were the perfect size, even the slightest misalignment when putting them onto a lighter would be very obvious on the bottom edge and look sloppy. Doing it this way makes for a much more professional looking custom lighter.
First, remove the warning label sticker, it will look funny underneath our custom lighter sticker and bulge out.
I do not know or claim to know the legal implications of removing this warning label, in removing said label you acknowledge that you do so at your own risk, and excuse myself, PsPrint, and/or any and all other entities involved in this tutorial from any liabilities or legal action caused by removing said label.
The sticker will come off more cleanly if you pull back and away rather than folding the label over itself (erm..huh?)
Don’t do This:
Use your hobby knife to separate the backing from the sticker on the bottom right corner. Always apply the bottom of the custom lighter sticker first (the bottom is the part of the sticker you want to be on the back of the lighter), because there is a very slight overlap to ensure that the entire surface of the lighter is covered, and we want this overlap on the back side of the lighter instead of the front side.
Now fold the backing of the custom lighter sticker down and give it a little crease, try not to touch the sticky part.
hold your custom lighter sticker on top of your soon to be custom lighter, and adjust it so the back of the graphic is roughly centered on the back of the lighter, and the top edge is relatively even along the top of the plastic part of the lighter. Also make sure the background image is right side up!
This is the most crucial step in the process, if you get the alignment correct here, the rest of the process is cake. You will likely botch the first few as I did, just keep practicing and you’ll eventually have the process down like a pro.
Push the sticky part down onto the lighter, from the folded backing edge out toward the end of the sticker, notice the gap at the top edge of the custom lighter in the photo below, it’s ok if there’s a gap, as long as it’s not crooked.
In the photo below you can see the edge of the custom lighter sticker has been applied, now start rolling the sticker onto the lighter keeping firm pressure on it to keep any air bubbles from forming.
Keep sliding your finger or thumb up and down the lighter as you roll the sticker on for a nice tight fit.
There’s that overhang I mentioned:
Use your hobby knife to cut that overhang off, riding the blade along the plastic base of your custom lighter for a clean edge.
Looks nice, huh?
Aaaaaand You’re DONE!