Art & Buttons

donated buttonsdonated artMy donation to the 20/9 Spring Craft Show’s Raffle Drawing was this framed piece of original art with a set of four fridge magnets to match.  I was so hoping this young man who stopped by my table several times to look at it would win; but, alas… someone else did. He asked about my process… how I make the artsy button magnets, so that is the topic of this blog today… how to make button graphics from your own original art.

Step one is to scan your art.  The image here is a low res version… high res makes for huge files, but for good button graphics, go for the higher resolution.  If you scanner “washes out” your image with too much light, adjust the lighting (brightness, shadows, whatever) in your favorite photo editing software so it will look more like the original.
PhotoScan4smmornstrip2 - 1
Step two is to crop circles of interesting areas with translucent backgrounds.  Not so easy… unless you use GIMP or some other serious graphic design software.

I use GIMP, so I launch GIMP and open the scan (a jpg file).  Then I open a NEW file with a square pixel size as large or larger than the anticipated circle (go big if unsure, can always crop it later) with a 300 dpi resolution and select “translucent” as the background option.  So I have two GIMP windows open… one with the scan, and one with nothing but a translucent background.  I click on the scan window, then click on the eclipse SELECT tool, pick an interesting detail and select a circle, dragging the edges until I like it with an eye on the pixels to make sure I’m selecting a circle and not an oval.  Then I click EDIT, COPY.  Okay, time to work in the other window, the one that is empty with a translucent background. I click on the EDIT in that window, then click PASTE as a new layer. Then I click FILE, EXPORT AS… and save it as a PNG file (to keep that translucent background), and delete the pasted image (or layer) so that window is ready for the next circle that I want to save as a button graphic.  It is really easy… hope I didn’t make it sound hard.

Step three is to size and lay out the circles as button graphics.

For that, I like to use Apache OpenOffice Draw because, for me, it is faster and easier to layout button graphics with one of my otg templates with the cut lines and guide lines set up on layers.  Since the circles are png files, it is just INSERT image and select the file.  They come in on top, so while it is high lighted, I click ARRANGE and send to back (so I can see my guide lines) and then drag, drop, and scale it to fit into a circle and DUPLICATE to fill the page.  Then I save it with a file name, delete my guide line layer (so dashed lines will not export) and EXPORT as a pdf for the printers.

Step four is time to make the buttons… the printed circles are cut with special paper punches, topped with protective mylar, and pressed into buttons.

There are easier ways… especially if you use an online button design studio tailored for button makers where you can pull in any photo to drag around and scale as you please, no need to crop round circles, but this is how I like to do it. Plus the files are mine… I don’t know who has access to files when they are auto-saved on those studio servers.

Thanks for reading!


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