How To Make Your Own Trophy Plaque
Do you need trophies for a club, competition or recognition ceremony? If you’re on a tight budget, you can make your own great looking trophy plaques using stock art, bumper sticker labels, and pre-cut wood found at your local craft store. These look just as good as professionally made plaques, and take only about 3 hours from painting, to applying final labels for a finished plaque.
Here’s how to make your own trophy plaques. You will need:
- Adobe Illustrator (or another vector artwork editing program)
- Flat or beveled wood
- Paint or stain for the wood (we used spray paint)
- A gloss or polyurethane finish (spray-on is fine – it helps coat the paint so the labels stick easier)
- Labels printed from a local copy store. We found that specifically asking for “bumper sticker labels” resulted in a heavier vinyl print that cannot be easily removed and sticks to painted wood. These only cost about $4 per a 12”x18” for a sheet full of labels – well worth it for a more finished-looking and permanent option than we’d get by printing them on our inkjet printer.
First, create your artwork. I love using StockUnlimited.com best, because I can download as many files as I like, and combine artwork to create something really fantastic. In this case, we’re creating artwork that says “All Star Shoot Out”. Since this is the last race of the season I wanted to create something truly spectacular.
I downloaded the following files for inspiration. While this isn’t for a July 4th race, it’s easier to use the stars, stripes and colors from these graphics than starting from scratch. (Plus, if I find I don’t need the art I didn’t waste any money!) This way I can use some of the elements I like from each to create a truly cool logo for the trophies. Using pre-made backgrounds, stars, stripes and other elements.
I created the text “All Star Shoot Out” in a fun font for the racing trophy plaque.
For the “All Star Shoot Out” logo itself, I liked the banner from #1514027 – I downloaded this file as an EPS, as well as the others, so I can edit the file in Adobe Illustrator.
Ungroup the artwork and select the banner and white stars only (I didn’t need the text in this case), then I pasted it into my new document.
Change the text to white, then using the Warp – Flag effect in Adobe Illustrator, I’ll distort the type so it fits into the flag artwork. (Hint: this is much easier to do when the type has been converted to paths, so I usually copy and paste the ‘live’ type elsewhere in case I need it later. Also, To hide the blue points for easier viewing as you twist the type, simply hit “Command H” or “Ctrl H” if on a PC)
After a bit of tweaking and enlarging the type a bit, I got a fairly good fit.
Next I added stars and stripes from this 4th of July graphic to create some visual excitement. I first copied the stars and shapes from this stock image. With a little bit of copying, enlarging and mirroring some of the elements, I was able to quickly work them above the logo.
Next I used the lines and stars from the background of this graphic to create an explosion of stars for the background. I simply ungrouped the art, then selected the elements I didn’t want (the state of Missouri, banner, and circles). This left only the stars and stripes.
Since these colors are bit different than the colors in the logo, I changed them to match. Here’s an easy way to do that. Using your individual selection tool (hollow arrow in your toolbox) select a color you want to change. (In this case, I wanted to change the beige to white.) Go to the “Select” menu, select “Same” and choose the “Fill & Stroke” option. This will allow you to change everything with that same color fill and outline. I repeated this same process for the reds and blues I wanted to change.
I pasted the stars and stripes with updated colors and placed it in the background (Control+Shift+] ), then squeezed the stars and stripes art down a bit so it had more of an oval shape, rather than the original circular shape. Finally, I changed the red sections of the ribbon banner to gradient red, so they had more depth.
Next I added a white stroke around the star above the text and enlarged it a little to help it stand out.
Next, I placed a drop shadow behind the text and star to create some depth.
I liked the background of this stock art for the trophy, so I selected everything else and deleted it, to leave only the dark red background for the trophy plaque.
I changed the color of the background stock art from white to dark navy blue, and added a drop shadow to the whole “All Star Shoot Out” graphic.
Finally, I type the “1st Place” (and other 2nd, 3rd, etc. as needed) and send the file to my local printer to print on bumper sticker paper. Here’s the final graphic:
Paint some beveled or craft wood from a hobby store, then add a coat of gloss or polyurethane. (We used spray paint for both steps). Then, adhere your custom bumper sticker graphics from your local copy shop to the dry, painted craft wood.
It’s amazing what you can do with some stock artwork and a little creativity. Here’s the final, finished trophy plaque: