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How to Design Rubber Keychains Using Adobe Illustrator

How to Design Rubber Keychains Using Adobe Illustrator

Rubber keychains are a popular promotional item that can be customized with your own design or logo. They make great gifts for customers, employees, or event attendees, and can help your brand stand out in a crowded market. In this article, we'll walk you through the process of designing your own rubber keychains in Adobe Illustrator.

Before we dive into the design process, it's important to note that there are different types of rubber keychains available on the market. Some are made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride), while others are made of silicone or other materials. PVC is the most common material used for rubber keychains, and it's what we'll be focusing on in this guide.



Not using Adobe Illustrator? Check out our other design guides:

How to Design Rubber Keychains in Photoshop
Step 1: Preparation

The first step in designing a rubber keychain is to prepare your canvas in Adobe Illustrator. Open up Illustrator and go to File -> New to create a new document. Title your design and make sure your color mode is set to CMYK. CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, which are the four colors used in printing. This is important because it ensures that the colors in your design will be accurate when printed on the rubber keychain.

Once your canvas is set up, go to File -> Place and select the image you want to convert into a rubber keychain. This could be a logo, artwork, or any other image you want to use. Place the image on the canvas and select "Embed" from the image toolbar. This will embed the image into your Illustrator document and allow you to manipulate it as needed.

Next, switch to the Rectangle Tool and create a new rectangle with dimensions of 70 millimeters by 70 millimeters. Make this new rectangle transparent and then add a border. This will be the outline of your rubber keychain.

Adjust the size of the embedded image to fit within the 70 millimeter square and center the design. Use the Select Tool to select both the image and the square. Go to Object -> Lock -> Selection to lock the image and rectangle in place while you trace over the design.

Step 2: Tracing

Now it's time to start tracing your design. Select the Brush Tool and go to the Stroke icon in the toolbar on the right side. Set the weight to at least .3 millimeters and change the cap and corner settings to the rounded versions. This will create a smooth, rounded line.

Switch the brush color to a color that will be easily visible over the original design. We chose to use a bright green color, but you can choose any color you want. Now start going over the lines of your design by left-clicking over a line and following the line art to the next point. If there is a curve to the design, you will need to adjust the curvature of the line by holding the left click and adjusting the curve.

Continue to repeat this process over all design details. Make sure that you go over all details, including words, clothing details, hair details, etc. When you are tracing, make sure that all lines are connected (intersected) with all other lines. These can sometimes be difficult to see, so toggle the view between the full image and lines to make sure everything is connected.

If the lines do not intersect, select the line and pull the anchor to intersect with another line. Keep in mind that spacing between lines must be at least .3 millimeters. To measure the distance between lines, select the Line Segment Tool and draw a segment between the two lines. Before letting go of the segment, you will be able to see the length. If the space between the lines is less than .3 mm then you will need to adjust the lines so there is at least .3 mm between the lines.

Step 3: Color

After you have traced over your design, it's time to start adding color. To do this, we first need to make a copy of your tracing. To do this select the whole design, and copy and paste twice. For one of the copies, create a rectangle and put this behind the copy. Change the color of the rectangle and outline so that it is easy to see the tracing on top of the rectangle.

Now we can start adding color. Switch to the Shape Builder Tool and select the Live Paint Bucket. You can then switch to the eyedropper tool and select your colors from your original design. Once you have selected your color, switch back to the paint bucket tool and fill in all the sections of your design that use that color. Continue to fill in the colors for all sections of the rubber design until every section is filled in.

It's important to keep in mind that for standard rubber keychain designs, you are allowed up to 12 colors. For premium rubber keychains, you are allowed up to 15 colors. If the number of colors exceeds the allotted amount, we may ask you to either reduce the number of colors in your design or pay an additional fee.

Once all of the sections are filled in, select, copy, and paste your filled-in design. Select the pasted design and go to Object->Expand. Make sure that object, fill, and stroke are all checked, and then press OK. Once again, go to Object->expand, make sure fill and stroke are checked, and press OK.

Next, go to Pathfinder located in the right tool bar and select Unite. This will combine all of the individual objects into a single shape. Then, go to the Stroke icon in the right tool bar and set the weight to 1 millimeter and set the cap and corner setting to rounded. Change the stroke alignment to Align Stroke to Outside. These changes will fill in your entire design with black.

After you have filled in your design with black, center it over the design with color and move the layer back. Then go ahead and delete the rectangle we made earlier. Now you have the outline for your design.

Step 4: Attachment Hole

The last step of the design process is to place the attachment hole along the outside of the keychain. To do this, choose your preferred location along the keychain border and place the hole. Make sure the placement is such that the structural integrity of the hole is not compromised.

Step 5: Save and Export

After you're happy with your design and hole placement, it's time to save your work. Go to File->Save as… and name your design as the email you will be submitting it under. Check that the file type is .AI and press save. After pressing save, another window will pop up for options. Change the version to Illustrator CS6 and click OK.


Designing rubber keychains in Adobe Illustrator can be a fun and rewarding process. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can create a unique and eye-catching design that is sure to stand out. Whether you're creating a design for your small business or a personal project, rubber keychains are a great way to showcase your creativity.

Once you have completed your design, you can visit our inquiry page to send the design directly to us, or place your order through the product page.

The design process can be time-consuming and tedious, but the results will be well worth it in order to get your ideal rubber keychain design. The design process can be frustrating at times, but if you follow these easy steps the process will be a lot smoother and the custom keychains of your dreams will be realized. If you need any help along the way you can always contact us by email at or by phone at (214)699-0541. If you’re not really a design wizard and don’t want to risk anything then you can always opt for the Illustration Assistance option while placing your order so that we can take care of the whole process for you. Good luck, and happy designing!