Tips To Creating Custom Challenge Coins

October 16, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • The process of creating challenge coins can be overwhelming for anyone who hasn’t done it before.
  • The best way to ensure that you make a good-looking and meaningful challenge coin is to plan everything out and think deeply about what the purpose and the meaning of your challenge coin should be.
  • You should create multiple designs to narrow down your favorite design elements.
  • Using a unique meaningful image along with relevant text can make the challenge coin much more special to those who receive it.
  • You should also ponder all of your options when it comes to coin size, coin shape, edge design, and plating options.

Making your own custom challenge coin can be a fun way to make your next special event more memorable, but designing a good coin can be harder than it looks.

So how can you make sure that you design a good and meaningful custom challenge coin? Creating a meaningful coin starts with lots of planning. You need to think about the purpose of your coin and make multiple designs with unique art and text that will be meaningful to the recipients of the coin.

When you see it written out like that, designing your own custom challenge coin really doesn’t seem like too hard of an undertaking, but it goes a lot deeper than that. With all of our years of experience making custom coins, we’ve learned a thing or two about making challenge coins that look good and mean a lot to the people receiving them. If you follow these 11 amazing tips for designing custom challenge coins, you’ll be sure to create a coin that will be loved and appreciated for years to come.

Table of Contents

11 Tips To Creating A Meaningful And Good Custom Challenge Coins

Designing a custom challenge coin can be tough, especially if you haven’t done it before. With so many different options to choose from it can get overwhelming quickly and leave you not knowing where to start.

Though many of the tips that I lay out here can be done out of order, I put the first few steps you should take right at the beginning to that you know exactly how to get started on your custom coin-making journey.

Think About The Purpose And Meaning Of Your Custom Challenge Coin

By far the most important step to making a custom challenge coin that will be meaningful to those who receive it is simply thinking about what the exact purpose of your challenge coin is. What do you want it to signify and mean to those who receive them?

To do this you’ll first need to think about exactly who will be receiving the coin. Is the coin being given out to club members at a special anniversary event? Perhaps the coin will be given to military veterans to honor and recognize their service or maybe the coin will be made to commemorate a college football team’s national championship-winning season.

Context is important and each of those scenarios would require coins that are drastically different, but once you know who and what the challenge coin is for you should have a better idea of how to make the custom coin meaningful for that group.

If you want it to be a military challenge coin for members of a specific military unit, any logo, motto, or recognition of achievement that is associated with that military unit are great candidates for things that will be meaningful to those receiving the challenge coins.

This really applies to any situation. No matter what the organization, club, or event, every group has some sort of logo, symbol, motto, etc. that they associate with and find meaningful, so finding out what these are so that you can use them in your design is a great way to first step in creating an aesthetically pleasing and meaningful custom challenge coin.

Create Multiple Designs

Once you have nailed down what you want the purpose and meaning of your coin to be, the next step is of course beginning the design process. However, while you may be tempted to endlessly toil over the details of one design, you should try to create multiple unique designs to start out with.

Now, these designs don’t need to be incredibly intricate and they shouldn’t be anywhere near to what the final product will look like at the end. However, the different designs should be physical representations of the different routes you could take.

Having multiple design ideas to look at will make it much easier to narrow down what you like and don’t like about each design and allow you to pick and choose the design elements that you want to go into your final challenge coin.

Again, there’s no need to spend too much time on these designs in the beginning. They are simply a jumping-off point that will lead you in the direction you ultimately want to go, so try not to obsess over them too much. Nothing is final at this point and there’s still plenty of time to adjust and play with the details later.

Create High-Quality Artwork For Your Custom Coin

Once you have a few different designs and have started to narrow down what you want your custom challenge coin to be you’ll want to make sure that you have some high-quality artwork to show off your design.

Of course, most custom challenge coin manufacturers are pretty good at bringing even the crudest of designs to life, no matter if it’s scribbled down on a napkin or some low-quality computer image that you managed to put together.

However, having high-quality computer renderings of your design beforehand will allow you to get a pretty good idea of what the finished product will be like before anything gets made and make it much easier for the manufacturer to know that they brought your design to life as faithfully as possible.

Draw Your Design To Scale

Going along with the idea that having high-quality artwork to show off your design with, you’ll also want to make sure that your design is to scale. Of course, there are many different coin sizes to choose from when designing a custom coin, so making sure that your design is to scale will again ensure that you have a better idea of what the final product will look like.

This also ensures that you don’t get too carried away with the intricacy of your design. Lots of fine details look great on large objects but if you know you want your coin to be on the smaller side, staring at a blown-up image of your design may skew your perception of what will actually look good on your final coin.

Choose The Right Coin Plating Option

One of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make when designing your own custom challenge coins is choosing the right coin plating option. The coin plating will have a big effect on the look of your coin especially if your coin doesn’t have too many other colors.

Custom challenge coin manufacturers have various plating options to choose from. There are coin plating options that pertain to the type of metal used like gold or silver, and there are also different plating styles that affect how these metal look including being polished or antiquated.

No matter what, you’ll want to consider all of your plating options carefully as this is one of the most noticeable design choices you’ll need to make.

Use An Image That Focuses On The Purpose Of Your Challenge Coin

Choosing a meaningful image, logo, or symbol is another incredibly important part of the challenge coin design process. This image, logo or symbol will the main feature right in the center of the coin so it's important to get this part right.

A club or organization’s logo or insignia is always a great place to start. These symbols will mean a lot to the members of the organization receiving them and is an obvious way for a coin to show pride in being a member of a group.

However, there may be other images that could be even more meaningful to a group of people. Imagine that you are designing a challenge coin for a group of local firefighters. While you could easily use a picture of their fire badge on the coin, an image of the front of their fire station could make it even more personal and meaningful to the firefighters that work there.

Avoid Using Premade Art On Your Challenge Coin

On a similar note, you should really try to avoid using premade art that you found on the internet for your coin. While the internet can provide plenty of premade images and artwork to choose from, there is nothing special, unique, or meaningful about pulling a random image from the internet.

If you want to make your unique challenge coin as meaningful as possible you’ll need to create a custom design that will touch the hearts of all the recipients as much as possible. Though many may be able to relate to whatever image you pull from the internet, it will never be as meaningful as artwork that is created with more of a personal touch specifically for the people receiving the challenge coins.

Limit The Amount Of Text On Your Challenge Coin

Text is integral to a custom coin design. Organization mottos or important dates can both be incredibly meaningful to members of the right group. However, it is important that you don’t include too much text in your design.

First, by nature challenge coins have limited surface area, so the more letters and numbers you squeeze onto your challenge coin design, the smaller they’ll be and the harder it will be to read them.

While a motto, title, or date here and there can be important small details that can give your coin a more professional look, no one wants to read a whole paragraph of text on their challenge coin.

However, if you are sold on including more text, you should adjust the coin size so that you can free up more space for more text, numbers, or other small design details.

2D vs. 3D Molds

Another thing that you should consider is using a 3D mold instead of a 2D one. While 2D molds can create beautifully designed coins, having a 3D mold can make textures stick out and letters and numbers appear more prominent on the coin.

Choosing the Right Coin Edge

There are also plenty of different coin edge options to choose from. While available coin edge options may vary by manufacturer, the type of edge that you choose can have a huge affect on the overall shape and look of your challenge coin.

Double Check Your Work

At this point, you should be nearly finished with the entire process of custom challenge coin design. However, before you send your newly made custom challenge coin design off to be made, make sure that you double-check your coin design to make sure that everything is exactly how you want it.

Send Your Ideas In Early

Now that you have your final design try to send it in as early as possible. Of course, the main reason you’ll want to do this is to ensure that your challenge coins are ready for your special event. After all, the worst type of challenge coin is having no challenge coin at all.

However, other than that, sending your design in early will ensure that you and the manufacturer have as much time to address any design issues or production problems that may arise. You shouldn’t expect anything but things going smoothly, however, sending your coin design in as early as possible will ensure that any potential problems can be easily dealt with.

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