Picture of Medal Clasps via Shapeways
The Médaille Coloniale -- the French Colonial Medal -- is a prime uniform decoration for any good 19th-century soldier.  Adding some campaign clasps to a recreationist friend's medal seemed like an excellent project to test out the Shapeways workflow, from reference images to final prop.

This instructable is mostly concerned with the method(s) of working in scale from photograph to final item. 
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Step 1: Collecting and collating reference material

Picture of Collecting and collating reference material
My friend had already done this step for me; he determined the campaigns his character would have served in, and found appropriate images online for each of those clasps.  Although the medal itself is official, campaign clasps would be run off by whatever jeweler the soldier had access to -- thus the font and border details varied widely.

Fortunately for us, however, they all hewed to a regulation size; 40 mm x 10 mm.  These round numbers made working to scale much easier.

Step 2: Scaling reference material

Picture of Scaling reference material
Opening PhotoShop LE, I increased the canvass size of the cropped and compiled images I'd been sent, and added a grid.

The size of the grid is actually arbitrary.  All I needed was a grid that contained 4 horizontal divisions the images could be scaled to.  Oddly enough, setting the grid to 1 cm turned out to be that size.  I then scaled the layer containing the clasps until they exactly lined up with the grid.

The last step was to crop the image at, again, a known value and at an exact square ratio.  I chose to give myself 1 cm borders for ease in the modeling application; thus the final save was a square image of arbitrary pixel size that represented a 6 cm by 6 cm square in scale.