How to Design Buttons pt. 1 – File Preparation

So, you’re an artist that wants to sell their work at conventions or fairs. Or, there’s a cause you’re down for and you want to sell buttons to raise money. Well, I got you covered. Sit back, relax, and I’ll give you the low-key-low-down on my button designing process. 😉

My reasoning for designing buttons is that my work needs to be tangible. Sure I can sell the original painting for $170, but I need a way to reach every-day people who don’t drop 200 bucks in one sitting. Buttons are a great, inexpensive way to do that.

The first thing I did when looking to design buttons was I looked for templates and compared sizes. Once I did that, I looked for manufacturers to produce my button. I highly recommend Wacky Buttons.

They’re East Coast-based in the US, which was perfect for me.

I knew I wanted small buttons and slightly larger buttons, but not so large that it would have an equally large upfront cost. I also knew I wanted 13+ different designs in multiple quantities.

One thing that sets Wacky Buttons apart is that they don’t have a hefty set-up fee. It is also a one-time set-up fee, no matter the amount of designs you need.

This is a button template provided by Wacky Buttons along with instructions.

The general rules of button designs are that the middle portion of the button will be seen while the outer rim of the design will be the crimped edges of the button. Not usually seen unless flipped over. I have seen people put their website on this portion on the button, so that’s definitely an option. One I’m considering for my next batch of buttons for giveaways, or grab bags.

What I do suggest is to have the design of the button bleed all the way to the edge and work on the design as such.

When your design is complete, be sure to remove the guidelines provided on the template. (I forgot this so many times)

I didn’t have to design for a button, since I already had artwork prepared, however, I had to make sure each piece of the small button worked for what I wanted to convey.

With the designs that had text on them, I had to strategically place them in the center avoiding as much overlap on the edges as possible. Those guidelines are going to be your friend.

To design the button, I had the template open and ready to roll. I filled in the lines of the outer ring in a solid color to use as the base of a masking layer.

A mask is simply a way to cut out and show only a portion of a picture. In this case, the mask I want to see is the circle of my painting that will turn into a button. Everything else will be transparent but that circle.

I use Clip Studio Paint, but Photoshop, Paint Tool SAI and other painting programs will (and should) have a masking option.

Once I have the solid circle, it’s time to import your image. That image is now placed on top of my circle layer, and the masking button is selected. Now, you don’t see the image as a square, but the image as the masking base.

Add any text or other imagery to your button and export that button (without the guidelines!) as the file type of choice. Now you’ve got a button!

Once you send those files to your manufacturer of choice and they become approved and in production, it’s time to think about packaging your button.

Any questions or suggestions? Share them with me in the comments below~

Until next time!

~PK

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