Lapel pins are everywhere these days, and you can thank Instagram for making them cool again. The customizable nature of enamel pins has made them a must-have accessory.
Pins are also collectible and great for trading. Many people collect designs and use them to showcase their identity, funny sayings, or cool art. Maybe you’ve collected a few pins yourself.
Now you want to try your hand at making your own custom lapel pin. Whether it’s for a big event or something that’s personally important to you, your pin design will be one-of-a-kind.
So how do you make sure it’s great? We rounded up some tips to help you create great pin designs.
The first thing you should do is consider the size of your finished lapel pin. This will give you the canvas you’re going to work on.
Small pins tend to be cheaper to produce. They’re also more popular, since they’re easier to wear. Small pins are generally 0.75” to 1.25”, so they fit almost anywhere.
The downside of smaller pins is it means you have less space for your design. A design that might look great on a larger pin will seem cramped or not reproduce very well as a small pin.
A larger pin gives you more space to work, but they’re less wearable. Few people will put a 2” pin on their lapel.
Even if you make a “large” pin, a 2” canvas is still pretty tiny! That’s why good pin design keeps it simple.
Designs with lots of lines and fine details may not reproduce well as pins. Very fine detail may be lost during the reproduction phase, even with today’s technology. Your chosen pin manufacturer might ask you to simplify the design if there’s too much detail.
Keeping it simple with color is also important. If you have a design with 15 different colors, it’s not going to reproduce well as a pin. Try to stick to a few colors on your pin for the most impact.
If you’re not sure whether the design you have in mind is too detailed or complex, get in touch with your manufacturer. Their design team can provide you with feedback, and they can help you adjust your design.
Another key tip when designing enamel pins is to be bold. This applies to both your line work and your color selection.
Enamel pins usually separate colors with metal. These metal sections will be represented by the lines on your design. Simple, bold strokes reproduce better than thin lines.
Your color choices should also be bold. Soft pastel colors aren’t very visible, especially from a distance. Bright colors tend to be more eye-catching.
Keep in mind that your pin colors will be solid. Most pin-making processes don’t support shading.
Your pin manufacturer’s design team can help here too. They can make recommendations for color or help you simplify a detailed design.
You aren’t hemmed in by the need to make a round or square pin. When you design a pin, you can pick almost any shape that suits the design.
A good tip is to think about balancing the design though. A balanced design is more aesthetically pleasing. More than that, you don’t want the pin to tip over or rotate when it’s worn.
If your design has text on it, give some careful thought to the typeface you’re using. Simple fonts, like Arial, are often the best choice.
The font you use should scale well and reproduce legibly at almost any size. Some fonts become more difficult to read as they’re shrunk down. Script fonts, for example, might not be legible on a small lapel pin.
You can always ask the design team at your pin manufacturer for recommendations. Be sure to consider how the lettering will be added to the pin.
Enamel pins are jewelry, and they use metal in their design. That gives you several different plating finishes to choose from.
Some people believe they need to choose their metal before they make their design. In fact, the reverse often works better. Finish your design, then see which metal looks best with it. Copper might look stunning with one design, while silver will truly make another shine.
If you’re not sure which metal finish will best complement your design, your design team can lend a helping hand here too. Be sure to ask which metal finishes are available. Don’t be afraid to ask for examples of pins with similar color palettes.
Don’t forget about other finishing touches. With today’s technology, you can add glitter, gemstones, and more to your pin designs.
Most pin manufacturers will ask for a vector style of your design. If you want the best quality, vectors allow much better scalability.
If you’re producing digital artwork, you can use almost any design program. Be sure you can export the file as PDF or another file type your chosen manufacturer will accept.
You’ll want to apply all these tips to your file. If your hand-drawn sketch uses shading or has a million little lines, spend some time cleaning it up before sending it to your team.
You should get a digital proof within a day or two. Once you’ve approved the proof, you’ll see your pins in just a few short weeks.
If the proof doesn’t meet your expectations, don’t worry. You can work with your pin design experts to revise the art and create a design you’ll truly love.
With these tips for pin design, you’ll be creating your own custom lapel pins in no time.
If you’re ready to get to work and design pins, get in touch with us. We’ll help you make your pin ideas a reality.