Today I'm gonna show everyone my process for making my art into little pins. I'll also share some of the tips and tricks I've learned over the years making pin art.
Now let me start off by saying I'm a big anime fan and the Studio Ghibli movies in particular have always provided me with vast amounts of artistic inspiration. This design here is some Spirited Away fan art.
I've always loved the intricate Asian architecture so I started off doing a little research to try and see what shapes, colors, and patterns were commonly incorporated into these kind of pagoda style buildings.
Now, I'm not very good at painting but it's always important to try other mediums. You get better and better every time try and it makes you more well rounded as an artist. It also forces you to visualize the shapes in a different way. If nothing else you'll have tried something new!
Here is when I start my initial sketch. It's important to have a strong, defined outline so your pin pops and doesnt look like the image have been cut off. Think about this when deciding on your different design elements.
It's also important to consider how many "cut-outs" or holes your pin will have. Try to have as few as possible as they will likely impact the cost of production for your pins.
Now is the vectoring step. Scan your image onto your computer and load up the program of your choice. (Most would recommend Adobe Illustrator). Use the tools (mostly the pen tool) to recreate your image in illustrator and make fine adjustments.
Remember that for vector art you can't have any blending of colors. Think of your vectored image as a mosaic of colored pieces.
Once your image is vectored, contact a machine shop to make you a mold. There are many factories that specialize in cheap, small run molds for just such applications. Alternatively you can go through a middle man who will charge you more but offer support as needed. I recommend doing this your first few times at least.
Don't forget to include important information such as: size (measured as the longest dimension), number of back posts (i recommend at least 2 so your pin doesn't spin when its attached), and PANTONE color codes.
Once ordered, wait 2-4 weeks to receive your new pins!
Go forth and create :)