Brand A-peal: Custom Vinyl Logos - SCOPES Digital Fabrication

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Aidan Mullaney
Aidan Mullaney
Aidan Mullaney is the Instructional Manager for the GE/Celtics Brilliant Play Lab. His primary role with the Fab Foundation is developing and delivering curriculum for the middle school mobile lab. Aidan facilitates career-related activities with a focus on STEM in… Read More


Logos are symbols that visually represent an idea, organization, or individual. Over the course of three classes (hours), students will design and apply a vinyl decal onto athletic clothing using a vinyl cutter and heat-press or iron.

This lesson uses Google Drawings, available in Google Drive, to create simple logos. The lesson also utilizes Roland CutStudio to prepare student’s designs for cutting (Note: it is recommended to use this or similar software provided by the vinyl cutter manufacturer). To take this lesson further, students may explore Inkscape, a free, 2D vector graphics editor to create more intricate designs.

Fab Instructors will help students cut out their design and press them onto a t-shirt.


What You'll Need

Vinyl Cutter

Heat-transfer vinyl

Iron or heat-press



T-shirt (one per student)

Computer (one per student)

Design Process Data Sheet



Software: Google Drawing (within Google Suite) & Roland CutStudio

Optional Software: Inkscape

The Instructions


Challenge: Create a logo to identify or visually represent yourself. Identify: Articulate the criteria and constraints of the challenge (10-15 minutes).

As students enter the class, the teacher should prepare the vinyl cutter to cut out a previously designed, example logo. Allow students to watch the vinyl cutter cut out the logo.

Share with students the following or similar images around logo design:


Logos reflect the values of a group or individual. They can change to reflect updated ideals held by those they represent. Below are timelines of logos from some well-known organizations.

Image sources – Celtics logos / GE logos


Pass out Engineering Design Process Sheets. Under “Identify”, ask students in groups to create a list of criteria and constraints around the project. Give students the criteria that these logos will be put on a t-shirt. Some suggestions may include:

  • Size – no larger than 6″ x 6″ or 2.5″ x 2.5″ (NBA logo patch size)
  • Appearance – meaningful symbols to represent value
  • Content – monochrome with simple, non-overlapping curves and lines
  • Time – three full class periods (or 3 contact hours)



Research: Analyze one or several example solution(s) (logos) to this challenge (5-10 minutes). Develop Solutions: Sketch initial ideas for logos on paper (15-20 minutes).

Share with students the completed design from on the vinyl cutter. Ask the students “in what ways does this logo, or solution, meet your own criteria and constraints?”(Strengths) or “in what ways could this logo be improved?” (Weaknesses). After discussing, refer students to their data sheets to record these responses under “Research”.

Optionally: the instructor may allow students to search online for their favorite logos. If so, have students find and select one of these logos and record their answers to the previous questions.

Pass out computers to students. Instruct them to log into their student/school or personal Google accounts. It’s recommended to set up a shared folder for students to place and share their work. Guide students to this folder and have them create a new “Google Drawings”.

Allow students 10 minutes to explore this software without answering their design questions. This will give students a better understanding of this online tool and sense of self and peer-reliance.


After 10 minutes, have students return to their data sheets. Under “Develop Solutions”, direct students to draw at least three unique logo ideas. It is important for students to formulate an idea initially before spending more time on Google Drawings. Once their sketches are completed, have students attempt to design these sketches online.


Debrief students current understanding of Google Drawing and their project goals. (10-15 minutes)

Once all students have three sketches on paper, the instructor will encourage students to demonstrate their knowledge of Google Drawing. Students should be able to complete the following tasks:

  • Place a shape on the canvas
  • Add a line or scribble to their canvas
  • Change the boarder weight of a line
  • Undo or redo
  • Align an object to perfect center


After students have demonstrated these skills, encourage them to share their current progress with one another. Students should share one skill they learned with their peers.

To further explain the function of the vinyl cutter, pass out a small square of vinyl (this does not need to be heat transfer vinyl) and a pair of scissors. Tell students the vinyl cutter uses a small blade to separate the top layer of colored vinyl from the protective bottom layer in precise designs from the computer. This is an example of computer controlled manufacturing.

To demonstrate the difference between human and computer controlled manufacturing, tell the students they have 1 minute to cut out their design with scissors (or cut a perfect circle). As students will quickly see, it’s difficult to complete this task, but a computer controlled machine can do it multiple times with ease.


Select Solution: Choose and refine the logo to digitally design (10-15 minutes).

Students should select one design from “Develop Solutions” to sketch to scale on paper in “Select Solution”. This will clarify the goals of their design to anyone that might help them, especially the instructors. Additionally, applying scale to their design on paper will give students an understanding of it’s actual size separate from that which may appear on their computer screen.

In a new Google Drawing document, students should create a larger, scaled version of their selected design.


Prototype: Cut out student designs and weed the unnecessary vinyl (30-45 minutes).

(Safety note: The vinyl cutter uses a rapid moving blade to cut vinyl. The heat press or iron can reach temperatures of 400F. To ensure student safety, it is recommended that only the instructor operate these machines.)


On a separate computer for vinyl cutting, the instructor will download and import completed student’s files into Roland CutStudio (or comparable software). To create a trace of the image, click the image and select “Image Outline” under the Object header. Move the “Alignment Image Density” slider to optimize the quality of the trace, then select “Extract Contour Lines” to generate lines the vinyl cutter will cut.

Delete the old image behind the newly traced image. Teachers may repeat this process over again to place a number of student’s designs on the same piece of vinyl. Once ready, select “Cutting” then OK to cut the designs.


Hand students their vinyl cut designs. Ensure there is good lighting as it may be difficult to see the cuts on the vinyl. Pass out tweezers to students and inform them they need to remove or “pick” the vinyl they do not want appearing on their t-shirts. Inform students to think before they pick, take it slow, and ask for help if vinyl begins to tear or come loose.

After students have picked away the excess vinyl, prepare the heat press or iron to 305 F/150 C (heat & time pressed depend on vinyl). Place the shirt on the press and iron out any wrinkles then place the logo in the desired location on the shirt. It’s a good idea to place a cover sheet over the design when applying the vinyl. Press the shirt for 10-15 seconds. Afterwards, hand students their completed shirts!


Test: Examine the effectiveness of the logo's design on the t-shirt (5-10 minutes). Evaluate: Gather feedback from a classmate (5-10 minutes). Communicate: Brainstorm ideas to improve the logo's design and share with a group (5-10 minutes).

Redirect students’ attention to their datasheets. Under “Test”, allow students to answer the questions regarding the function, strength, and weakness of their design and t-shirt. Refer students back to the “Identify” and “Research” sections to help answer their “Test” questions.

For “Evaluate” partner students to provide feedback on their peers logos. Student and peer should swap Design Sheets. Peers should write down constructive input about a partner student’s logo on the swapped Data Sheet. Afterwards, return the Data Sheets. If there is any confusion surrounding the design, students may explain the choices they made for their personal logos.

Finally, students should document at least two features about their logos they want to improve for “Communicate”. Students should utilize the feedback they received from their peers about their design. If classes have the time, instructors may allow students to develop solutions for a redesigned logo (with Inkscape) and apply the design process once more!


  • (MS-ETS1-1): Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
  • (6.RP.A1): Understand the concept of a ratio and use ratio language to describe a ratio relationship between two quantities. For example, "The ratio of wings to beaks in the bird house at the zoo was 2:1, because for every 2 wings there was 1 beak." "For every vote candidate A received, candidate C received nearly three votes."
  • (Fab-Safety.2): I can operate equipment in a Fab Lab following safety protocols.
  • (Fab-Modeling.2): I can construct compound shapes and multi-part components ready for physical production using multiple representations.
  • (Fab-Design.2): I can participate in design reviews with prepared presentation materials as well as give and receive feedback from peers.

Lesson Feedback

One Response

  1. Sarah Wallace October 31, 2019
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