Intro: Shrinky Dink D&D Miniatures
The purpose of this Instructable is to summarize my method for making diy D&D gaming tokens. As a new father and avid gamer living in a small apartment with my wife and daughter, I was looking for an affordable and space saving alternative to traditional miniatures. I came across a paper miniature site and was inspired. I had some Shrinky Dink film leftover from an old art project and decided to give it a try. Other than the shrink film you might not have much to buy to make these yourself. I will start with the art supplies I used to complete this project.
First, comes the shrink film. To my knowledge, there are two manufacturers of shrink film. Grafix which you can pick up from Amazon, and possibly some art supply stores. They have a pretty wide selection of finishes from clear to matte and sanded. I have not tried this brand yet but I plan on trying it out on my next figure. The other option and the one I used for this instructable is Shrinky Dink. I picked mine up at my local Michaels. Shrinky Dink also has a couple of different finishes, for this project I used the Ruff n’ Ready, it has a rough frosted texture which holds on to color really well. Both brands offer inkjet printable options, which I imagine would save a lot of time and effort, but I have not tried those yet, I have plans for those as well.
A note on clear options, the frosted ruff and ready option I use is translucent even after baking. The clear option looks like stained glass. So keep this in mind when purchasing your shrink film. The clear would probably work really well for gelatinous cubes, invisible stalkers, oozes and the like.
Step 1: My Materials
For the drawing, I used my favorite mechanical pencil. Nothing fancy just a basic .5mm. For outlines, I used the black Faber-Castell Pitt pens. An XS for faces and other super fine details, and an S for most everything else. As for coloring in the artwork, I went with markers. On a previous figure, I used Prismacolor pencils which are great. But I noticed I had to be careful with the outlines. The colored pencils had a tendency to cover up the outlines.
I wanted to use the markers I already had in the house, leftovers from old college art classes, but I just didn’t have enough color options. So I went out and picked up some Crayola Super Tips. These are the washable water-based type. These actually worked pretty well. Being water based on a plastic surface, they didn’t dry very fast so I was able to do some blending. Also if you're not happy with the coloring all it takes is a wet cotton ball and you can erase and start over. The flesh tones weren’t that great so I sprung for the Faber-Castell flesh tones. For cutting, I relied on the mat knife the most. It's a thicker heavier blade than most X-Acto blades and was much easier to cut through the plastic. The Gerber multi-tool scissors worked pretty well on curves.
Step 2: Find Your Art.
Find or draw your artwork. I personally start at Deviantart.com . In particular, I like Staino, he has a nice clean art style and his characters read well from a distance. But of course use whatever you like, there is a ton of stuff available. As long as you don't try to make money off of the figures you should be within the creative commons license, but always be respectful of the artists work you decide on. I decided to go with this necromancer. I think choosing a simple black and white drawing works best. Because the next step is to print him out and trace him onto the film.
Step 3: Trace Out Your Chosen Art
I recommend taping the film down, making it easier to keep everything neat. One thing I like about this step is it's easy to make small changes or leave out parts of the artwork you don't need.
Step 4: Color Everything In
This where the cheap Crayola markers really came into their own. They blend pretty well. The fact that they don't put down a lot of pigment works out well. Colors darken and intensify during the baking process.
Step 5: Cutting Out the Figure.
I recommend drawing a halo around the figure to use as a cut guide. Also, dead spaces like the one between the staff and the robe, I leave alone. Tight spaces like that are tough to cut out. The plastic isn't easy to cut through and will crack if bent too far. Plus it's easy to accidently pull through and cut into something you didn't intend to.
Step 6: Baking the Figure
This part is pretty similar with both brands of shrink film. Just read the instructions and follow them. During the shrink process, the figure is going to bend and roll up on itself. Don't freak out and pull out the figure if you see this happen. I did on one of my first figures and I messed up and fused a sword in the wrong place. Once the figure has stopped shrinking pull it ou on the baking sheet or cardboard it is sitting on and let it cool before you pick it up. The plastic is still pretty pliable and the figure might not lay flat if you pick it up to soon.
Step 7: Post Bake Reference
These are some samples of how much the Shrinky Dink brand shrink during the process. The sheets were approximately 5x8.
Step 8: Stand Them Up and Play
The last thing is to order some game stands and slot them in. Here are some options.