DESIGN: 5 STEPS TO PRINTING YOUR DESIGNS ON A MUG
Hey guys, so this week I thought I would share my 5 Step Process for printing your designs onto the humble mug. I 've always loved china since I adopted my granny's obsession with buying blue and white cups, plates and dishes. After experimenting with wallpaper I thought I would see how my designs would look on bone china mugs to form part of my first test run collection of homewares. It's a baby step but here is how it went.
STEP 1: CHOOSING YOUR PRODUCT
Have a look in your kitchen cupboards and pick out your favourite mugs and cups. Study the designs, the colours and the quality of the china and try to imagine what you would like your mug to look like, feel like and drink out of. I love Bone China Mugs and knew I didn't want a big clunky look so this was a good starting point when searching for the right printing company.
STEP 2: FIND YOUR PRINTING COMPANY AND SEND OFF FOR A SAMPLE
There are dozens of printing companies out there that will do the job. For me the decision to print digitally was an obvious one - this being my first attempt I just wanted to print a few (no minimum orders) and was likely to change the colour (you can have as many as you like for no extra cost), add more designs into the mix and experiment (fast turnaround and lower cost with digital). It was also vital to be able to pick up the phone and speak to a human who would help guide me through the product development phase. I decided on Edwardian Fine Bone China who were incredibly responsive, patient and helpful, a small family run independent company based in Stoke on Trent - the home of Pottery! Click HERE to find out more about the printing options available. At this point it is vital to make contact - send an email introducing yourself, ask any questions and include a sample request. I chose a few mugs including the Balmoral which I ended up going for, but here are some other options from their range. It is also important to understand what sort of files you will need to send and the print area for your chosen mug. For the balmoral they normally work to 220mm x 80mm for a full wrap so I had this area to work with.
STEP 3: COLLATE YOUR DESIGNS, COLOURS AND SCALE
Once you have your sample mug and understand the print area of your chosen product now comes the fun part of choosing your design and colours. It really can be anything, you don't have to be a pattern designer or qualified artist in any way to do this. I had lots of designs from a few years ago which I thought could work, so I set about laying them out and having a long hard think about how they might look, paying particular attention to scale. There isn't a lot of print area to work with on a mug so I picked out some smaller motifs (you can always play with scale on a photocopying machine if you have a larger pattern by increasing and reducing the scale to get an idea of how it looks in different sizes). I also chose a backstamp (the logo/details that appear on the base of the mug).
A word of warning on COLOUR - in lots of cases you will find the colour you end up with on the product is rather different to the colour on your design, this is because of the variance in inks and machines companies use to print with so just be aware of this. You can use Pantone references as a guide if your supplier cannot match exactly to these or CMYK references - it's a case of trial and error on this one and is a really tricky area that needs lots of research if you are looking to print on a commercial level.
STEP 4: MAKE A MOCK UP
This is the best way possible of seeing how your design will sort of look on your mug before you send off for print. I chose a few designs, printed them off and wrapped them around the sample mugs. This also tells you how much of your pattern needs to be included when you send off your files. I knew I was working with a full wrap, so the print pretty much covered the entire area of the mug except a tiny space either side of the handle.
STEP 5: PREPARE YOUR FILES AND PLACE YOUR ORDER
So once you are happy with your mock up mug design, its time to prepare the files for sending. Its pretty straightforward and in most cases you will be required to send a high resolution jpeg, pdf, eps or psd file. Make sure you also include an image of your mockup so the printing company can clearly see what you want your finished product to look like. Create a copy of each design and pop them in a separate file for future reference.
The end result - me drinking a delicious mug of coffee from my own printed mug! I'm happy with the end result but I'm now going to spend some time changing the colours, printing more designs and work on getting my first collection together!
Get creative and good luck!