My First Enamel Pins - Making a Pin Design

 
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 I just received my first batch of enamel pins made from my design.  I think they turned out pretty cute.

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I designed the pins and the coordinating backing cards in Affinity Designer.  I find it more user friendly (nodes, selections easier to see, fewer and easier to understand steps for some actions) than Adobe Illustrator.  I did take the finished .eps file into Illustrator to convert it to an .ai file for the pin manufacturer.

screenshot of Affinity Designer showing large nodes pen tool uses.

screenshot of Affinity Designer showing large nodes pen tool uses.

This is an example of a finished Illustrator design file to be sent to the pin manufacturer.  It includes a larger image of the pin, the pin scaled to fit the 1" size to show the finished image size, and the colors wanted for the pin. 

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To assure the colors of the finished pin match the colors you want, it is best to have the design file  show the colors as Pantone Solid Coated colors.  You can buy Pantone color cards from the manufacturer or on Amazon.  They are expensive and tend to be sold as a set of coated or uncoated color guides.  Ebay is another source where you might find the coated color guides by themselves.  Illustrator also has the Pantone Coated colors under Swatch Libraries, Color Books, Pantone Solid Coated.  Affinity Designer has a drop-down menu in the swatches for Pantone Solid Coated.  The colors of the online Pantone color swatches are not as true as the physical Pantone color guides as they are seen differently in different monitors, but they are a pretty good approximation.

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When designing a pin, size and number of colors are the main characteristics to consider as far as price.  The larger the pin (size determined by largest size), the more expensive it is.  Usually 4 colors are included in the base price.  Then the price goes up for each color added.  So when designing a pin, it is good to keep the number of colors used to 4 or less.  Take your design into a vector program such as Adobe Illustrator or Affinity Designer and make it into a vector image by doing an Image Trace in Illustrator or trace using a pen tool or pencil in Affinity Designer. 

Draw your metal lines in the color you wish to indicate for the metal color - light grey for silver, dark yellow for gold, and black for black metal lines.  The colors inside the lines represent the enamel.  For enamel pins, the color inside lines must be solid and flat, no gradients. or patterns.  Lines should be no smaller than 2 mm. for hard enamel and 1 mm. for soft enamel, and spaces between lines should be no smaller than 2 mm.  Lines will become metal, and shapes can be designated to be metal in finished pin also. 

Remember that the pin will be small.  Simplify the design so details show up well in the small size.  You can draw a square the size of your final pin, 1" for example, and then scale your image down to fit into the square.  Print it out to see how it will look in the final pin size.

I decided to have a back stamp logo added to my design.  This is a design stamped on the back of the pin.  It gives your pin branding and is kind of like signing a painting.  The back stamp is made as a separate mold with a separate fee added to the total pin cost.  It is a one time cost though, as it can be used for future designs.

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Kat Pin, hard enamel pins are now available in my Etsy shop.