- 18 Mar 2018
- Tiana Scott
Have you ever wondered how to start making enamel pins? Do you even know where to go to get it made? In this blog post I will show you how to create a pin from just a doodle to a physical pin that you could sell or trade with your friends. We even have a list of manufacturers you could use to get started at the end.
So what is an enamel / lapel pin?An enamel / lapel pin is a small or large pin that is usually worn at the lapel of your jacket. Henceforth the name lapel pin. Pins are sometimes worn to show your affiliation with a group or organization. It can also be worn as a way to enhance your outfit and represent the stuff you like. There is a long history on cultural reasons as to why people wear lapel pins but we aren’t going into that today.
What are the differences between a soft and hard enamel pins?
Soft EnamelSoft enamel pins are more popular to make because it has a wider range with colors, provide textures you can feel and it's much cheaper to make. They are generally cheaper to make because they do not use as much enamel as the hard enamel pins. The only negative with soft enamel is that they are less durable and scratches much easier. In order to combat this, you can ask for an epoxy coating for an extra fee. This provides a clear barrier and feels like a hard enamel pin.
Hard EnamelHard enamel is more durable than soft enamel and does not scratch as easily. This method can be much more expensive to make and often has more restrictions when filling in the colors. It is also coated with resin for added protection. The colors could also not as bright as a soft enamel pin though but it's still beautiful. These pins are great if it is meant to withstand the elements and last a longer time.
What programs can you use?
Most people believe that they can only use Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop to create pins but that isn’t true at all. You can use any art program as long as you are able to have layers. Your line work and colors need to be separated.
I‘ve even come across artists who design pins using art programs on their phones! That’s super cool isn’t it!? The only thing you must do is check in with your manufacturer. They often have their own needs on how a file should be delivered. My manufacture prefers Adobe illustrator files while a good friend of mine manufacturer prefers a pdf of her work.
It is also okay if you don’t have the type of file they need. Often times as long as you have a jpeg they can convert the art for you. (You may have to pay a little extra)
If you don’t have Photoshop or Illustrator here is a list of free programs you can use to create your art.
Free programs, yay!
- Inkscape : https://inkscape.org/en/
- Pixlr: https://pixlr.com/
- Sumo Pain: https://www.sumopaint.com/
- Gimp: https://www.gimp.org/
- Sketch Pad: https://sketch.io/sketchpad/
- Kleki: http://kleki.com/
- Deviant ArtMuro: https://muro.deviantart.com/
Let's get into this step by step
First you need to have an idea. Here is the sketch I made. I decided to draw Storm from X-Men. You don't have to start with a hand drawn image. I just prefer to draw by hand sometimes.
Make your outline. Make sure that all of your lines meets on another. If there is a gap between your line the, colors will spill into one another. You don't want that,
Now it's time to add color! Make sure you are using Pantone colors to fill in your pin. Pantone is the universal code used to make colors for pins. If you don't use the code, your manufacturers will be forced to find the correct color for you. Please do not risk that. You may end up with the wrong colors and you'll be super unhappy. Make sure your line aren't too close together so the paint can be filled in.
Make sure you make color swatches with the correct color codes so there are no mistakes made.
Also if you want an areas to be cut out. Please make sure you use a red x to mark those spots. If you don't they'll fill it in with white. Make sure you have full control over the outcome of your pin.
It's time to send it to your Manufacturer. Make sure you look at the proof really good before you approve it.
It takes about 2-4 weeks for a pin to be made.
There are extra things you can do with the pins to.
You can add
Hinges ( Like a door)
Glow in the dark paint
Stained Glass ( See through enamel)
Ask them what they offer and have fun.
* Pro Tip: Make sure you ask for more than one back post if the pin is 1.5 inches or larger. You risk your pin spinning if you don't have enough back posts.
You can purchase the list of manufacturers list here