Custom acrylic pin badges

How to create custom acrylic pin badges using Paint Tool SAI

Custom acrylic pin badges

This tutorial contains everything you need to know about creating your own custom acrylic pin designs using Paint Tool SAI.

Download our Paint Tool SAI templates >> here << and open your chosen size.

Important - Colour Management

Please note that Paint Tool SAI can only create documents in RGB colour whereas we only print in CMYK colour.

A quick search on the internet for 'the difference between RGB and CMYK' will provide you with a wealth of information on this subject, but we wanted to make you aware that the colours of your designs on screen will be different to the colours of your final printed products.

The image below shows the RGB palette on the left and the same palette converted to CMYK on the right. RGB colours appear vivid with bright blues and greens. CMYK in comparison appear flatter with slightly duller colours.

We convert all Paint Tool SAI images from RGB to CMYK before printing so do remember to bear these colour differences in mind. Always remember to order samples if you require any colour accuracy or if you are unsure or feel that you may be unhappy with these colour changes.

1. Download our templates

To start submitting your custom printed acrylic pin designs you'll need to download our design templates. Templates are available in various sizes ranging from 15mm to 40mm.

Download our Paint Tool SAI templates >> here << and open your chosen size.

Each template comes with a working area where you will import or create your designs. Please make sure that your artwork fits INSIDE of the blue borders.

2. Understanding our layers

Opening the template, you will notice that there are 5 layers in your Layers palette.

IMPORTANT - Please don't rename existing layers or create additional layers as this will confuse our systems when processing your designs.

This layer contains the blue borders which your design and cutline must sit inside, our logo and a brief description of the template size that you are using. DO NOT USE THIS LAYER.

'Artwork' Layer
All pin artwork should be placed on this layer. We print your designs in reverse onto the 'back' of our 2mm clear acrylic and then add a layer of white ink.


When you turn the printed charm over, your design will be the correct way around and visible via the 'front' of the acrylic. 

'Back Print' Layer
Use this layer to add printed details to the back of your pins. Repeat patterns and text work best on this layer, as full images will be obscured by the metal pin which is glued onto the reverse.


'White' Layer
Adding a base layer of white to your charms will make your colours crisper and more vivid. Any printed areas without a white base layer will appear transparent.

Cut Area Layer
Use this layer to show us where you would like your charms to be cut. We'll use this information to create a path which will then be used to create a cut line for our laser cutters.

Please note that we do not print right up to the edge on any of our acrylic charms. It is therefore ESSENTIAL that you create a border of AT LEAST 1mm between your artwork and your cutline. 

Failure to leave a 1mm border on your acrylic charm designs can result in damage and lifting along the printed edge of your charms as a result of the heat generated by the laser. See step 5a for more info.

'Fixing Template' Layer
Place the fixing template over your artwork to show us where you would like your pin to be placed.

3. Importing your designs

'Artwork' Layer
Select the 'Artwork' layer in your layers palette and either draw your design directly on these layers, or copy (CTRL+C) and paste (CTRL+V) previously saved artwork.

Once you are happy with your design FLIP IT so that it is a mirror image of itself.

We will print your design onto the 'back' of the clear acrylic before adding a layer of white ink. Your design will then be visible, the correct way around, via the 'front' of the acrylic.

'Back Print' Layer
We only recommend using simple repeat patterns or small text on this layer as full images will only be obscured once we glue the metal pin fixing to the back of your pins.

Acrylic Pin Badge Back Print

To create a custom pattern, repeat text or similar, copy and paste the content of your 'Artwork' layer onto your 'Back Print' layer and use this to create a silhouette which you can use to add a pattern or text to the back of your pins. 

If you do decide to go with text we recommend using a plain font no smaller than 7pt in size (based on the typeface 'Arial'). 

Remember, we always recommended ordering samples using our single pin quantity option BEFORE placing any large orders.

4a. Adding a layer of white

To guarantee bright and crisp colours for your artwork you'll need to add a white base layer to your designs. This white layer will sit behind your artwork.

To create your white base layer hold down the 'CTRL' key and click on the thumbnail of your 'Artwork' layer. This will select all of the elements of your artwork layer.

You will now need to Inset (shrink) your selection by 1 pixel, which will prevent any areas of white from showing around the edge of your charms once they've been printed.

To invert your selection go to SELECTION > INVERT, your selection should look like the image below...

With your selection inverted, use the increment option SELECTION > INCREMENT once to inset your selection before inverting the selection again SELECTION > INVERT.

Click on the RGB slider in your colour & tool panel and create a Cyan colour (R:000 G:255 B:255)

Select the 'Bucket' tool and click inside your selection to fill the selection Cyan.

Click 'OK' and 'OK' again. You should now have a Cyan silhouette of your original artwork, placed on your 'White' layer.

Be aware that contracting your selection in this manner can have an effect on the pixels selected. Always zoom in on areas with fine details such as strands of hair or small point text and check that you are happy with the results.

Please remember that we always recommend ordering samples before committing to large print runs, so that you can check that you are happy with the result. mistakes can not be rectified once your charms have been printed.

5. Adding a border / cut line - Important!

You can now decide on the thickness of your border, which will be used as a cut line. It is ESSENTIAL that you make this border AT LEAST 1mm wider than your artwork. Failure to do so can cause your printed design to lift along the cut edge as a result of the heat generated by the laser. A 1mm border will prevent this from happening.

To create your cut line, CTRL click on your Artwork Layer to select all of the elements of that layer. Select your 'Cut Area' layer and use the Increment function approximately 20 times to increase your selection by the required amount.

A slightly quicker way to do this is by using the shortcut ALT+S followed immediately by the 1 key. Do this 20 times.

Using the Bucket fill the selection black. This colour will not be printed, it's simply for our designers to use as a guide when creating your cut line.

TIP - Use the Eraser tool to round off any square edges of your cut line silhouette and the Brush tool to cover any areas missed by the 'fill' command.

6. Fixing Template

The fixing template is a dotted 10mm circle. Place this on your design to show us where you would like a metal pin attaching.

We recommend placing the pin towards the upper centre of your design, as this will prevent your finished pins from spinning around when they are worn.

Wherever you decide to position your pin, make sure ALL of the 10mm circle sits INSIDE of your pin artwork so that it won't be visible from the front once your pin has been constructed.

Please don't merge the fixing template with your artwork as we will need to remove this before printing so that it's not visible on your finished pins.

7. Submission checklist

Congratulations, you've finished creating your custom charm designs! All you have to do now is check the following before submission...

  • Your artwork fits inside of the blue borders.
  • Your white base layer is Cyan and located on the 'White' Layer (Step 4a.)
  • The fixing template has NOT been grouped or merged with the rest of your design.
  • Your border is AT LEAST 1mm (10px) thick.
  • All text has been converted to outlines.
  • Your charm template contains 1 charm only. Additional charms will be sent separately.

8. Saving and submitting your designs

There are 3 different ways to save and submit your designs...

1. Submit your artwork immediately

If you have already created your designs, you can send them to us using the 'Upload Artwork' button, located on our product pages or by emailing them to ‘’.

Save all Paint Tool SAI files in .Psd format. Here’s how…

Name each of your designs appropriately so that we know which designs you are referring to. Your file names should include 1. your name, 2. design number, 3. chosen product and the 4. date that you placed your order through our website. Here’s an example…

Select all of the designs that you would like to submit, right click and choose SEND TO > COMPRESSED (ZIPPED) FOLDER.

This will create a compressed folder containing all of your designs. Rename this folder so that it contains your name and the date that you placed your order on our website. Like this…

Please add all of your designs into one folder. So, if you purchased charms, stickers and pins, for example, just pop them all in the same, compressed folder and upload it using the 'Upload Artwork' button.

2. Submit your artwork later

If you have placed your order via our website but your designs aren’t quite ready yet, that’s ok. You have up to 2 weeks to submit your artwork to us, which allows you to take advantage of any special offers that we’re running. 

To submit your designs later, save them with 1. your name, 2. design number, 3. chosen product and 4. your order number. Then email them to ‘’. 

Save all Paint Tool SAI files in .Psd format. Here’s how…

3. Placing a re-order

If you have placed an order in the past and would like to re-order those designs that’s great! We store your artwork for a maximum of 6 months, which saves you the hassle of having to resubmit your designs via email.

To place a re-order, simply place your order online, email us with your previous order number(s) and let us know that you are placing a re-order. 

You may only want to order 1 or 2 designs from your previous order(s). To do this simply quote your old file name(s) and let us know how you would like them to be produced and in what quantities. 

Here’s how to do it… 

Hi Zap!,

I’ve just placed an order #12345 on your website and would like to re-order the following designs from a previous order #12121. Please can I have…




If you have any questions about this tutorial or any other aspects of our website and manufacturing processes, please do not hesitate to get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.

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