You've got a one-of-a-kind idea that you just can't wait to share with the world! You've spent days, nights, (or minutes) sketching out your idea and you're ready to turn this creative masterpiece into a pin! So what's the best way to deliver your art to the pin manufacturer?
The most ideal way to send your artwork to a manufacturer is via a .jpg, .png, or .pdf file. However, it's best to finish your artwork as a vector file because it will allow you to see how the manufacturer will finalize your artwork. As discussed in the Tips for Designing Pins post, your artwork should be like a coloring book where each space sectioned off by lines of your design is for a single color.
A vector file also allows you to resize your image without losing details such as blurriness, fuzzy edges, and/or color distortion. Vector files can be recognized by having .ai or .eps file name at the end. The most popular vector program in the market is Adobe Illustrator, but it's definitely not cost-effective for those starting out because the program is a monthly subscription AND is part of an entire suite of other programs which you may not end up using (you're looking at $80 a month - pricing for when this blog was published).
It's not an end all if you can't make art into a vector file! Manufacturers can take your draft and do the vector work which will ultimately serve as your 'proof'. A proof is a mock-up where what you see is what you're going to get! Even if all you can manage is a pencil drawing, do your best to clean up the work (i.e. outline the final artwork in sharpie for bold black lines) the clearer your artwork, the less back-and-forth you'll have with the manufacturer. If you don't have any programs, take a picture with your phone and email it! Although many manufacturers say the proof is free, it has been noted that a fee is often added into the total bill. There's also the option of finding someone local to vector your artwork if you're worried about communication. Both options relies heavily on communication and building a good relationship, so you won't know until you get going!
Another huge pro-tip is choosing your colors before submitting the artwork to the manufacturer. Specifically Pantone (PMS) colors. PMS colors are best established beforehand because they do not translate 100% from the commonly used RGB colors you're most likely using to fill in your artwork digitally. Why can't manufacturers use RGB colors? RGB colors stands for 'red, green, blue' which are the three main colors that are combined to make the colors you see on your computer screen. Because pins are physical products, a different color system must be used which is where PMS colors come into play. To get the best color match, the most updated Pantone book would be the best reference for color selection! Unfortunately, Pantone books are not cheap (almost 200 dollars)... and if you do decide to invest in a book, make sure you are using the solid coated colors. Below is a picture of the Solid Coated Pantone Book from 2019 (the most recent version from when this post was published):
As a follow-up to the PMS color pro-tip, add notes on your artwork about the PMS colors you want so there's no confusion. Below is an example of my final artwork I send to the manufacturer:
Every color used on the pin is noted so the manufacturer to take out the guesswork on what color you want. Again, the colors were picked by closely looking through the Pantone book to see what would best fit the design since colors on screen don't translate 100% to physical colors. It's also worth noting that sometimes the manufacturer will not have every PMS color! So be prepared to pick a back-up option if your color choice is unavailable!
By noting every detail of the pin, this will help streamline your conversation with the manufacturer and get your pins into production faster! The manufacturer should provide a proof for your final approval:
Once approved, production will begin! This post covers a basic pin design, but with more features such as knocking out parts of the pin, stained glass effects, glitter, etc...communication with the manufacturer is vital. Continuously improve your communication skills! If there's a specific detail needed, make sure to spell it all out! Now begins the waiting game... but congrats! You've successfully submitted artwork to manufacture your pin!