Part I - The Pinmaking Journey Begins! ♡

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Darlings, welcome to MeltingHeart’s blog section; A place where I’ll be sharing some tips and tricks that hopefully you’ll find useful in your art and/or pin making journey.

Before you even consider looking for manufactures, you first need to have a design! Why? Because let’s be real. Before we can even begin looking for manufactures and ask for quotes, we need to have a design ready. This way you know exactly what to ask for when you do!


♡ Today I’ll be sharing with you the programs I use and 4 things to keep in mind when designing a pin. (Please note that all these tips are all based on my experience and personal preferences & it’s okay if you want to use any another programs that are not mentionedhere to create!)

So let’s begin! The two programs I use on the iPad are; Graphic & Clip Studio. If you’re on a computer/laptop, you’ll definitely need to use Illustrator (Ai) for vectoring your design.

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I use Clip Studio on a regular basis for almost everything. I love that it has this photoshop feel to it, with more options, like assets, for an artist. However if you do’t want to pay for the monthly subscription fee, you can find other affordable apps for creating.

Usually I’ll start by sketching out ideas until I’m happy. Then I’ll keep working on adding more details and cleaning the design. I’ll keep doing this endlessly until it looks relatively close to the finished result.

Save and export the file to Graphic.

Graphic is the closest program I’ve ever used to illustrator for the iPad and my favorite when designing a pin. I give this program 100/10 and can’t shut up about it! .
You’ll be able to change the line’s stroke, size and and move all the points made with the pen tool just like in Ai, but with a more iPad friendly interface.

(On the right you can see the vectored line art of the ‘Don’t Break My Heart’ valentine’s pin.)


So! You just finished designing your pin. The lines are clean. The art is perfect and you’re just about ready to make a mock design to start asking for quotes… well, wait!
You’re not done!

♡ Things to keep in mind when designing:

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  • Keep your lines 2.5 pt or bigger. You can obviously go thicker, but try not to go smaller than 2pt. Enamel pins are usually small (1”, 1.5”, 1.75”,2”, etc) if you make your lines too small they’re probably not going to translate well into the finished product. I suggest you print out a mock version of your pin until you’re happy with what you see.

    I get asked how I manage to add so many details to my pins and well, apart from the fact that I’m insane, this is the little trick that I do so the lines won’t overlap and look like a gold plated blob in the end.

  • Make sure you don’t leave any small gaps. (Like the one circled in the photo on the right!) Why? Because enamel pins are colored by hand. The smaller the gap that needs to be filled in, the higher the risk for it to not be filled in correctly. Usually if everything’s the same color, you won’t have any problem, but if each of those gaps are a different color well that’s when you might run into trouble. Try to avoid leave gaps this small, or if you must, try to keep the enamel surrounding that gap the same color.

  • Don’t go crazy with colors. You can obviously do what ever you want. I know I have YOLO’d countless of times on many designs. However, if it’s your first pin, or you’re just starting out, I suggest your design not to have more than 5 colors. Not only is it cheaper, but I’ll lower the flaw rate of the production. Again, this shouldn’t be a deal breaker for you but I’ve noticed the less colors the better.

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  • And last but not least, please get yourself a Pantone Book.
    While you might be able to go ahead and make a pin without one (My first two pins were done without one!) This will completely save you from future nightmares.

    Why? Because the color on your design, computer or iPad screen won’t necessarily match the actual enamel color you want in real life.
    For example; You might ask for a pastel blue, the color on your approved artwork looks pastel blue, but when you receive your pins, you get a light blue instead. AND to make things worse, the manufacturer wont remake them because the pantone color you approved, based on the color not the actual pantone number, is actually a light blue.
    The pantone color book will show you a reeaaaaally close match of what the actual color will be.
    Remember enamel is basically paint mixed by hand so I’ll never be 100% accurate but more often than not it’s pretty spot on!

    This is specially useful when picking skin colors and when doing fannart and you really need something to be a specific color and you can’t really wing any mistakes like with original pin designs.

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At the end of the day, I’m a firm believer that practice makes perfect and you only truly learn when you put your knowledge into practice. So, take a moment today to sit down and sketch out some ideas. Is the design you’re doing too elaborate? Think about ways you could minimize gaps. Make them bigger! Don’t be afraid to invest on a pantone book, you’ll find so much use for it other than pinmaking!

I’m looking forward to dive into more in-depth tips in the near future. Let me know in the comments if you found these tips useful. Do you already use any of the programs mentioned? What are you most interested in learning?

Much love & have an amazing Monday everyone!
— Natidí ☆