I'm positive non-vendors are always curious as to how we do things. I'll shed some light on how the designing, printing, and shipping process works. This might also help others with their processes, or those who are wondering why certain things take a specific amount of time.
1) The Designing process
There are two ways a vendor operates in terms of designing. There are those who vector and those who do OC / OC+vector. So what's a vector? You hear vendors use this word many times. A vector is a computer made graphic that will not use pixels until it is made a raster. A vector is most commonly created in Adobe Illustrator. Vectors are great for printing because it can be enlarged however much you please, and it would not lose it's quality whereas enlarging a JPEG will. You might have also seen people discuss about OC vs Vector. Most commonly, vendors would vector an anime screenshot or image they find on the internet. This practice can be classified as tracing. OC means Original Content, meaning vendors who do OC are drawing their own designs. I used to vector when i started floatingnimbus up until a couple months ago. I had no artist skill so i resorted to vectoring, but i am currently trying transitioned Floatingnimbus to an OC only shop.
1.1 Floatingnimbus design process
For my designing process, i'll use the Jennie design, an OC kiss cut sticker design, for example.
The first step is sketching. I use Painttool SAI (30$) and a Ugee drawing tablet (70$). I found that drawing digitally is easier than pen and paper because I can make more mistakes, and fix those mistakes easier.
I would first do a very rough sketch of what i want a design to look like. I make sure I am satisfied with everything such as, anatomy, face proportions, outfit design, etc. For those who don't know, I also design the outfits on the characters I create. I use many inspirations that I gain from all over my social media to create these outfits. For example, The new BLACKPINK x Floatingnimbus designs are inspired by techwear, and cyberpunk influenced. BLACKPINK is a marketed as a badass girl group so i definitely wanted to do BP justice.
Once I decide the sketch is complete I move to the next step is lineart and coloring which will be done in Illustrator. Some OC vendors do theirs in the same program they used to sketch. For me however, I'm not good enough to do perfect lineart and shading, and I prefer illustrator for stickers anyways! In Adobe Illustrator, I use the pen tool to do the lining and coloring. For the colors, I have my own set of gradients for skin colors that I use for pretty much any vector. Doing gradients takes a good amount of time, but trust me it will give your vectors depth!
After I finishing coloring, I open up photoshop to finish everything up and prep for print. This is where I add the details such as graphics on Jennie's jacket. I have lots of techniques and methods to making textures, or graphics on designs, which i'll showcase in a later episode.
To give you an idea, heres a visual to help
2) The Printing and Selling Process
The printing and selling process is one not too many customers know about. After i finish the design and set up a time frame for releases. I am currently running a preorder operation, because most of the time I do not know how much to order of each design. Some designs can sell 10 or can sell 100. Also with preorders, everyone is able to get the stickers they want without worrying about them selling out in minutes. After the sale time frame is over ( aprox 4 days ). I email my printer to get my items produced. Yes, i do not print the stickers myself. A printing and plotting machine can cost up to thousands, and require large amounts of space to be used. My printer is currently in Washington, the complete opposite of Georgia, where i reside. Printing time varies quite often. My printer, Aimlessgoods, is quite popular so he always has a waiting list. Some times I can have a day turnaround, or a whole month turnaround. Keep in mind that I am also not the smallest vendor out there. The amount of stickers I have to order can be quite big, and take a good bit to produce. There are a lot of variables that come into sticker production which is why it might seem that my stickers take a long time to get to
3) The Shipping Process
The final step to all this is shipping the stickers. As I talked in step 2, it takes about 1-3 weeks for the stickers to arrive at my place. Once it gets to me, I pack, label, and stamp the envelopes to drop off at a USPS pick up location. The delivery process takes aprox. 3-7 business days US. USPS is the only option to ship envelopes. As long time customers know, USPS is the worst mailing service ever. USPS is a government funded operation. They tend to lose mail a lot especially during inclement weather. If this happens, then i would have to replace orders for the lost mail.
That's pretty much a brief description on how Floatingnimbus operates. In a business, there are a lot of variables that comes with everything. Some of my designs take many hours of my day, and even then i would not be satisfied and scrap it. Jisoo took two sketches, both i even vectored, but i was unhappy with the first that i decided to start from square one ( BLACKPINK reference lul ). Shipping is also another issue. I try my absolute best to have orders out ASAP, but as i said there are many variables that could prevent me from doing so. If your order hasn't arrived to your mailbox, please be kind to vendors when confronting them about it. I'm sure they'll be more than happy to replace it for you.
As always thanks for reading,
Calvin / Mr.Nimbus