custom moth pin on tree

Creating a Pin Design

Designing pins is an easy process and even a kid can do it. Pin design starts with your idea and your logo or sketch is incorporated into your design ideas.

Everything you need to know about creating lapel pins

The Monterey Company specializes in designing custom pins for companies, individuals looking to sell their pin design online to nonprofit organizations. We have a graphics department with two full-time graphic artists that can create everything from 2D to 3d designs. The Monterey Company is an industry leader in creating custom made enamel pins. The high-quality materials and state of the art equipment are elevated by our team of skilled professionals and trained artists. Together, we create custom pieces for your business, with show-stopping logos as unique as you. Whether you're looking for inspiration for your event, your business, or your cause, take a look at some of our favorite pins. We're sure to have a style worth going after.

Custom Designed Pins

hard enamel pin custom shaped

This custom shaped pin includes black plating and hard enamel color. The plating between each color is black making the artwork really stand out.

cartoon pin

Creating a pin with a face or Silhouette can be tricky! Shadowing must be done just right using darker shades of color for the shadow effects.

Black Plated Pin

Plating can be used in the recessed areas that should be in the background, allowing the foreground to stand out.

Plating can be used in the recessed areas that should be in the background, allowing the foreground to stand out.

Black Plating Enhances Any Pin Design

custom pink cat lapel pin

Thin lines in this design are created by using the raised black plating. Colors are separated by the metal in this hard enamel pin.

Animal Skull Pin

Custom shapes are standard practice when designing pins. Color filling the accent lines in these horns can add a little extra enhancement.

multi color pin design

Adding multiple colors and wild imagery can turn your artwork into a collectible piece.

transparent enamel pin

The Graphically Designed Difference

The development of a perfect project comes from years of experience, creativity, and an understanding of the critical elements of an image. Our professional graphic designers can capture your company or cause’s tone and message, your brand personality, and your inspired ideas, all catered to your needs. They understand the visual, spatial, and textural elements that translate into emotions, making your product both aesthetic and captivating. Adding multiple colors in your logo and wild imagery can turn your artwork into a collectible piece. Small text should always be raised and not recessed.

graphic artist kid

The Art of Designing

Our graphic designers are true artists, and their medium is the arsenal of color placement, techniques, and finishing styles offered by The Monterey Company. When designing the perfect pin for your business, non-profit, or promotional event, your professional artist will draw on these mediums, creating a product with intentional effects to best tell your story. A popular technique used by our team is using black plating between vibrant enamel colors. In strategically using this plating, details come to life and shaded effects can be achieved. This same black plating can be used as an outline for the rest of the image, framing the colors and look within. These effects often encompass a pop-art feel or highlight the beauty of details. 

Another incredible skill within the art of design is making something for 3 dimensions. In the understanding which materials and textures work well for casting, our team can bring your ideas as near to life as it gets. When crafting 3-dimensional images, our artists incorporate life-like details through their use of contouring, sculpting, and finishing techniques. From this, people, animals, buildings, and shapely objects can be accurately and aesthetically represented in your

Designing Without Color

Sometimes, the beauty of the materials can speak for themselves within your custom product. When considering a pin style that highlights the elegance of a base material, a designer will contemplate the way they can use raised and lower areas to create their desired effect. In raising the focal point of the layout away from the base, the eye is strategically drawn to that area. Additionally, texture and finishing can be used to create lifelike and dynamic dimensions, without using casting in 3D.

These mono-color pins often have a professional, important, and timeless look and feel, making them the perfect style to consider for your upscale events, milestone commemorations, and your most significant thank yous. And through incorporating your message will shine through the material, creating a lasting impression that will never go out of style.

plating chart

Are You a Graphic Artist?

If you plan on having us or a graphic artist create the final design, Here are some detailed specification on designing a custom pin.

Before and after lapel pin designing
  • Not an artist?
    No worries! Send us your sketch or logo and we will do all the designing for you.

  • Feeling artistic? Do you have software skills?
    Do you have software skills?Great! Send us your file and we will make your artwork ready for production. The artwork can be rough and we can clean up your artwork as needed.

  • Are you good at using Illustrator?
    We work with graphic artists that have the skills to create production-ready art. Many of the details you need to know are below.

File Formats Used By Graphic Artists

When creating artwork, the first important factor to consider is the file format, and thus what program to use. Both to create our virtual proofs and for our factories to manufacture the final product, the pin design will eventually need to be a vector, not a raster. If you are unfamiliar with the difference, raster files are the more familiar ones like JPEG, PNG, and PSD that consist of an array of discrete pixels; while vectors are ones like EPS, PDF, or AI that consist of continuous abstractly-defined curves and lines. However, many vector formats can contain within them raster images, and when a raster image is re-saved in a vector format, all it does is embed the raster image in a vector file, which is no better than just the raster file itself. So simply re-saving a JPEG as PDF, for example, is no better than just sending the original JPEG.

Popular Manufacturing Processes

A unique way to enhance your creation is to combine processes. The outer edges of the pins are stamped and filled with patterns, inscriptions, and dynamic textures, leaving the centers open for a smooth, glossy printed insert. Combining custom enameling and printing adds a unique dimension, achieving the classic elegance as well as the crisp, bold effect of the printed pin. Printed inserts can be made to feature an image or photo, a business logo or slogan, or the detail-oriented logos that only printing can achieve. Before placing an order, there are a variety of options to explore when designing pin products. With over 30 years of experience, Monterey Company can help your organization save time and make designing and ordering pins quick and easy. 

Need More Information?

Request a Price Quote & Speak to a Dedicated Account Manager

soft enamel pin design

What are the Best Programs To Use in Designing Pins?

Raster formats are created by programs like Photoshop, while vector formats are created by programs like Illustrator. If you have access to a program like Illustrator, it is, therefore, best to create your pin design in that. If you only have access to raster image programs like Photoshop, we will need to convert your image into a vector format before we can work with it. If you create your design at an extremely high resolution, this conversion can often be done quickly and easily with automatic software features, but lower resolution raster images can only be converted to vector formats by re-drawing them by hand, which may introduce some delay into the process of getting you a virtual proof to approve. So if you can, create your logo in a program like Illustrator, but if you cannot, it is best to create it at an extremely high resolution so that it can be quickly and easily converted.

Understanding How A Pin Is Designed

The next important thing is to understand how they are made and the limits on the kind of detail that can go into your design. The designing of new pins consists of a piece of metal that has been die-struck or die-cast to feature raised and recessed areas, usually only two levels, though in some circumstances more are warranted.

The Details in Designing Pins

For logos with no color, these raised and recessed levels constitute all of the features of the art. Think of raised features against a recessed background as black features on a white page, or vice versa if preferred, with the possibility of a few “shades of grey” in between them if necessary.

(It is also possible to coat different metal areas with different platings, like silver in one part and gold in another, and in that case, the differently-plated areas must be of different levels. We cannot, for instance, have a gold-plated logo against a silver-plated background of the same level; either the logo or the background would have to be raised or recessed relative to the other).

There is no need for you to include any kind of metallic effects in your own art to indicate what areas are metal (and doing so might possibly make it more difficult to work with). Any simple solid colors will do, so long as it is clear what they are meant to represent. We will generate metallic effects for metal areas when we render out the virtual proofs for your approval.

For images that feature color, that color is achieved by filling a recessed basin on the pin with colored enamel. Because of that, only solid colors are possible, no gradients; and every different color must be separated from every other color, or from any bare recessed metal areas, by a line of raised metal.

The colors we are able to use in our production are those in the Pantone Solid Coated book, and if you are able to apply those from that book in your art directly it can help us be sure to reproduce exactly the color you intended. Adobe Illustrator contains many libraries of different color books, including that one, accessible through the Swatches palette. But if you are not able to apply those Pantone colors in your art yourself, no need to worry; we can easily match the closest colors from that book to whatever you apply in your art.

Lastly, there are limits on the sizes that different features of any design can or must be. All raised metal features must be at least 0.1mm at the thinnest. All recessed (including color-filled) areas must be at least 0.25mm at the thinnest, and if they are to be filled with hard enamel rather than soft, they must be at least 0.3mm at the thinnest. And lastly, there must be at least 0.3mm of the raised border separating any filled area from the edge of the pin.

Unlike die striking, where a preset logo is physically struck into a blank (a smooth piece of metal), Cast lapel pins are produced when molten metal is poured under high pressure into a pre-created mold of your design. Pouring under high-pressure results in a clean smooth surface and a uniformly accurate final result. The molds used to create Casting takes a bit longer to make than standard 2D dies because they are more complex and are handmade. Once the color has been poured and hardened, it is time to add the plating.
Die-cast pins are made through the casting process, as opposed to the stamping or die-striking processes of other pin styles. Casting is achieved through the creation of a custom mold, based on the pieces' design, in which liquid metal is poured, creating a three-dimensional representation of the design. Die casting showcases a design's intricate details, unique shapes, and varied textures better than other processes.

Three-dimensional pins are made through the die-casting process in which molten metal is poured into a mold, filling into the cracks and crevices of the design. Once the hot metal has hardened and cooled, the contents are removed from the mold, leaving a multi-dimensional look.

Add color to your custom 3D pin: Just because a pin is die-cast, creating a three-dimensional representation of your design, doesn't mean you can't add color accents and details to your finished product. Add soft or hard enamel color to the recessed areas in your design, making a vibrant "pop" for your logo or image. Finish your piece with gold, silver, or bronze plating, and add textures and finishes for added detail.

There is often a question on what the difference is between a 2-D and a 3-D.  Two-dimensional design has only 2 layers vs three-dimensional designs. This is a great option for a text-only or silhouette custom piece. With a 3-D or 3-dimensional surface, there is a full range of textures and detail that can be added. 3-D is a great option for depicting nature scenes for example, as it can provide the kind of detail that can make it almost picturesque.

Two-dimensional designs are made with a raised area and recessed area to achieve the details of your design. While we can sometimes add up to three levels to your design in order to achieve the desired look, 3D sculpting can add impressive elegance to your finished product. three-dimensional dies offer multiple levels of relief, not normally attainable using standard die-striking methods. Instead of only one raised area and one recessed area (as in 2D styles) this type of sculpting shows topographical contours in order to create the complex shapes and detail of animals, architectural replicas, and human faces.

custom shaped scorpion lapel pin design