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Challenge Coins 101: Your Art Proof

Written on February 3, 2020 at 8:39 pm, by

One of the best features of partnering with AllAboutChallengeCoins is having our team create high-quality artwork of your custom coin designs at no cost. Simply send the design details of a coin with your initial inquiry and our team turns over a high-quality render of your idea as a coin. Combine free artwork with unlimited revisions and you have a great opportunity to customize your options before finalizing any order.

In today’s post, we’re covering the most essential parts of reviewing an artwork from AllAboutChallengeCoins and giving you a few quick tips for looking over your art proof.

Your Art Proof Explained

When giving you our free price quote for a coin, our art team also takes the extra step to adapt your ideas and turns it into a fully-rendered custom coin design.

Every art proof from AllAboutChallengeCoins is divided into different sections including:

  • The Mockup: The actual artistic adaptation of your custom coin design detailing both the front and back of the coin. From color choices, plating, shape, and more, our mockups account for any customization you want while also providing our own recommendations and suggestions where we think a coin can be improved. Even if you have your own sketch for a coin finished, our mockup is great for actually getting a look at how the features of a coin will actually look like as a full product.
  • The Color Palette: Every art proof includes a color palette listing the colors used on a design as well as the platings. To ensure each color looks the same no matter what screen you’re using, we use the Pantone color matching system to keep your colors accurate on every design. We also use this area to confirm the size of your coin and the numbers of revisions made on a design in case you want to go back to an earlier design.
  • Coin Sizing: A small sizing chart is included in every art proof to give a better idea of how big a coin design will come out as well as confirm the scale of your coin before production. While the chart isn’t drawn to scale, it gives you a good idea of how the coin will feel like a completed product.
  • Additional Options: A list of additional options as well as their costs are included on every art proof showcasing where a coin design can be further customized with options like dual-plating, bottle openers, sequential numbering, and more.
  • Social Links: We include a few links to this blog and our other social media channels on each art proof as a resource for design inspiration, tips, and just to help showcase some of our best work. If you’re curious about how different production processes go into your coin or just want a few quick ideas for your own design, it’s a good place to start! 

Reviewing Artwork From AllAboutChallengeCoins

Accompanying every price quote from AllAboutChallengeCoins is a free art render of your challenge coin’s design with every customization and option included. However, the artwork’s not just a nice gesture on our part. As a customer, your feedback is absolutely invaluable and the more constructive feedback you provide, the better our team can help present a product that fits your needs.

Each art proof is a mockup of how your ideas will be adapted into a custom challenge coin and carefully reviewing the artwork is an essential part of the design process. Look over each art proof with a critical eye to ensure every detail on a coin design matches your exact specifications. Once a design goes to production it’ll be too late to make changes.

When reviewing your art proof from AllAboutChallengeCoins, these are going to be the most important details to think about:

  • Visual content: Emblems, flags, images, colors and any type of visual images are the first parts of a coin that’s going to be noticed. Make sure those details match your needs and pass a 5-second scan. If any part of the visuals on your coin looks off or doesn’t match your vision. Write it down and try to imagine what tweaks would make it fit your idea.
  • Text, Punctuation, and Spelling: No matter how great your coin’s visual design looks, a misspelled name or word is going to take the thunder out of your sails real quick. While our team does its best to note inconsistencies or odd spellings when reviewing the notes for a coin, we can’t stress how important it is to triple check the text on your end to make sure it’s accurate.
  • Customization options: AllAboutChallengeCoins offers a host of unique customization options including cut-to-shape design, 3D molds, translucent paint, and more. Your art proof is your best opportunity to review these options and compare them with your coin’s initial vision.

Providing Feedback to the Design Team

If you’re happy with everything in the initial art proof, then you’re free to skip this part entirely. However, if you’re among the many people who are rethinking their initial ideas after the first draft, then knowing how to give clear feedback is going to be invaluable for finalizing a challenge coin. Whether overcome with excitement over a cool design or frustrated specific customization isn’t working as intended, it’s easy to miscommunicate or have ideas lost in translation. To cut down on time wasted fixing mistakes, always consider the following tips when shooting feedback to the design team on your art proof.

  • Be Specific: Every designer hates the vague words, “Make it Pop.” When shooting back a coin design, make sure you list exactly what you want to be changed and where on your coin design.
  • Use Clear Descriptive Language: Colorful words or adjectives are great tools for writers to get ideas across. But designers? You want to keep your descriptions as clear as possible. Instead of telling a designer “I want more life in this coin,” actually describe what “more life” means to you. Do you want brighter colors? More detailed lines? A 3D mold? Be as clear as possible.
  • Use Correct Terminology: Know your plating styles vs your color options. If you and your designer are speaking the same language when describing what you want, you’re much more likely to get your ideas drafted exactly as you envision.
  • List All Changes at Once: Remember that list of details you were making about your art proof? Make sure to shoot all of it back to the team at once instead of sending your comments or desires in piecemeal. That gives us a chance to show you the changes all at once and then help you shear down until you have exactly what you envision out of a challenge coin.

Working With AllAboutChallengeCoins

With free artwork and unlimited revisions, the team at AllAboutChallengeCoins makes sure no order goes to production until you’re completely satisfied. Our company has over a decade of experience working with customers to create custom coin designs in just about every size and shape. If you’re ready to get started with us, just shoot us an email at or fill our online form for a free quote and artwork. 

Ascent Abort-2 Flight Test Challenge Coin

Written on January 27, 2020 at 5:49 pm, by

Every challenge coin that comes to AllAboutChallengeCoins tells a story through every part of its unique design. However, every now and then, we come across a project with a story that’s begging to be told. The eye-catching look and remarkable importance of the challenge coin we made commemorating NASA’S Ascent Abort-2 flight test was one of those stories we just needed to share.

All About the Ascent Abort-2 Flight Test

The completion of the Ascent Abort-2 flight test is a critical hurdle for NASA’s Artemis program and its plan to land the first woman and next man on the moon by 2024. According to Mark Kirasich, the Orion Program Manager, the test was no routine checkup either. 

“Our Launch Abort System is a key safety feature of the spacecraft — it will protect the crew members who fly onboard Orion during the most challenging part of the mission, which is the ascent phase.”

To put it into perspective, the abort system needs to trigger within milliseconds of manual activation by the crew to their module away from the rocket during an emergency. Then, it needs to right itself before splashing into the ocean to deliver its passengers safely back to Earth. A sequence that needs to take place while a rocket is propelling at over 1,000 mph at an altitude that’s potential over 40,000 ft. The unmanned flight test is the first of its kind to be performed in over 50 years since the Apollo missions. With its success, the agency’s work on the Artemis missions is ready for its next step.

“The next big checkmark is the Moon — it’s our Artemis 1 mission,” said Kirasich. “A little over a year from now we’ll be sending Orion on a Space Launch System rocket, and the destination of that vehicle is the Moon.”

For our part? No one on the team is a rocket scientist, but recognizing the need to commemorate the occasion, we buckled down to produce a custom challenge coin to the significance of this benchmark.

A Classic Coin for the Ascent Abort-2 Flight Test

Between the Ascent Abort-2 mission logo and the iconic look of the Orion spacecraft itself, this challenge coin had a wealth of modern inspiration to draw on. However, with a vintage antiqued plating, the coin uses a classic look taking direct inspiration from some of the earliest operation medallions commemorating previous successful operations. To start, the main image of this challenge coin is based on the official logo representing the AA-2 flight test and the team of literal rocket scientists who’ve been working on this project for years.

Without color for this design, we used physical texture on the front and back of the coin by sandblasting the backdrop. By keeping the 3D molded details of the Orion spacecraft smooth, you get a natural eye-catching contrast between the craft and the textured backdrop. Speaking of the backdrop, the texturing gives off the visual look of a distant space with the addition of local constellations really giving the feel of a starry sky on the design.

We went through several iterations to capture specific details and design elements.

If there’s anything that could disappoint us about this coin, it’s was the physical inability to properly integrate the Orion constellation as shown in the original draft. The initial concept had the constellation fully molded into the starry backdrop of the coin as a reference to the original Orion. However, It turned out that trying to create linework that fine on a molded design led to difficulties in the production process that had us ultimately scrap the idea. None the less, the final product has a refined and polished look that definitely carries the weight of history on it. 

Level by Level Design

You might notice one of the most defining elements of this coin is the amount of detailed depth in each element of the design. From the start of the Ascent Abort-2 coin design, we outlined three layers of 3D detail to achieve that effect. 

First, the starry background, moon, and congratulatory text set a foundation for the later elements of the coin and highlight how the coin is emblematic of this successful milestone for the Artemis Program. While we ultimately had to remove the Orion constellation on the backdrop from the finished product, finding a way to clearly depict the moon as the mission’s far-off goal was absolute and this level sets a backdrop for the rest of the design.

On the next layer, we included an atmospheric shot of our own planet Earth. Referencing NASA’s own operations from Florida, we gave the Sunshine State a very clear outline to as the shuttle’s launch point. Finally, the last layer of the design overlays the rest with Orion and it’s successful launch. More than just a meaningful emblem. The level by level design of the Ascent Abort-2 coin honors the team’s workplace and adds a clear visual depth capturing the gravitas of the event.

Telling a Story With Every Design

With a vintage look that recaptures the excitement of space exploration, the Ascent Abort-2 flight test coin takes its place as one of our favorite productions. While the Ascent Abort-2 flight test coins aren’t the first space industry coins we’ve worked on, making this contribution to the future of space travel is something we’re going to be proud of for a long time. It’s a sentiment we hope is shared with every member of the team who helped make the flight test a success.

Ready to design your own custom challenge coin? Click here to get learn more about our expert challenge coin designs. With free shipping and quick turnover, you can rely on AllAboutChallengeCoins for the highest quality custom coins for every occasion. For any questions about our services, talk directly to the team!

Ordering Custom Challenge Coins on a Budget

Written on January 10, 2020 at 8:29 pm, by

When it comes to ordering custom challenge coins on a budget, we offer a ton of tools to help manage and track your order’s final price. However, from budget-friendly designs to long-term cost cuts, there are tips and manufacturing options you can use to create stellar coin designs while saving on your final order. In today’s post, AllAboutChallengeCoins is giving our best budget-saving tips for ordering top-quality custom coins without needing to break the bank.

Understanding Custom Challenge Coin Pricing

Ordering 300 of both these designs cost exactly the same at $3.15 per coin.

As with any service or product, learning how the cost of your order is calculated and doing your research will go a long way to saving you money. AllAboutChallengeCoins price our orders based on three main factors including the size of coins, the number of coins, and the type of customizations added to your design. Understanding how these three factors influence your price quote and where you can best minimize costs will help you make the most of your order.

Keep Your Coin to 2” or Less

Size matters when it comes to the look and price of your challenge coin order. AllAboutChallengeCoins can help you make a coin as big as a dinner platter, but be prepared to pay a premium for a coin of that size. Bigger coins require bigger molds and more materials to produce, which means production costs naturally increase. Adjusting to a smaller size type is a quick and easy way to fit an order of challenge coins down to a more manageable budget.

In our experience, the most balanced sizes for most challenge coins are 1.75” or 2.00”. At that size, a coin is big enough to leave a tactile and visual impact while still keeping a good price point for the value. However, if your coin design is simpler without much in the way of text, cutting down to 1.50” can significantly lower your final price tag without cutting down on detail. If you’re not sure what size works best for your design, check with one of our representatives and check our article on custom coin sizing.

Choose the Right Coin Type for Your Design

Your final price quote can be really dependent on the type of customizations and design options added to your coin. If its just cost you’re looking at, the most affordable option for custom challenge coins is a die struck coin with a high-polish finish. This gives your coin a bright gleaming-look that can capture the shine of a medal. For example,  check this silver challenge coin below we designed for the cast of the Knife Nuts Podcast which combines a 3D mold with maximized use of space for a crisp design. While die struck coins are all unpainted, there are still tons of ways to personalize a coin through the use of 3D molds, customizing the shape or sandblasting texture onto a design. 

As vintage as a die struck coin might look, depending on your needs or project, it might actually be more worthwhile to go with an antique finish or to use a colored design. Especially so, if you’re planning on selling your challenge coins as part of an event or fundraiser. If specific features or designs are essential, we can work with you to showcase how much an order of challenge coins will cost and look with different features added to the final design.

Limit Use of Colors to Seven

As bright as a die struck coin looks, color adds a tremendous amount of customization to a coin and more than likely, you want some color on your design. When it comes to using colors in a design, try to keep your paint scheme at seven colors or less. Any more than that and your order will incur additional production fees for each extra color option. Also, don’t forget you can use your coin’s plating as an “extra” color option for creating backgrounds or linework on your designs.

While the left design is obviously more colorful, both of these coins actually cost the same per unit since any design can be manufactured with up to seven colors at no additional burden on production.

Use an Exterior Bottle Opener

Giving a fun practical function to a showpiece, adding a custom bottle opener is one of our most popular customization options. However, you don’t need to break the bank to add one to your challenge coin. While adding an interior challenge coin requires an extra production step to cut out the shape of the bottle opener. Opting for an exterior bottle opener just means adapting your production mold, which we can do at no additional cost! Admittedly, exterior bottle openers don’t have the same kind of symmetry, but if you’re looking for form and function without extra cost, it’s your best bet.

Hit Price Breaks With Your Coin Order

Increasing the coins in an order can actually save you tons of money! Yeah, we know it’s counter-intuitive but hear us out. When it comes to production, there are fixed costs that come with any order big or small. However, by making a bigger order, those costs can be spread out over a bigger number and help cut your unit price down significantly.

While 50 is the minimum number for any coin order from AllAboutChallengeCoins, between the start-up costs and the mold fees, we recommend aiming for an order of 100 or 300 coins whenever possible. At 100 coins in an order, it goes from $5.37 to $3.25. Going up to an order of 300 saves even more since we can go ahead and drop the mold fee at that price point. A single high volume order can potentially save you hundreds of dollars, especially if you can predict needing challenge coins for multiple events during the year.

Work With AllAboutChallengeCoins

At AllAboutChallengeCoins, we’re dedicated to helping you create custom challenge coins at the highest possible quality. However, good quality doesn’t need to break the bank and we hope these tips help you find the best ways to keep your order at the best possible value. Don’t forget, artwork and revisions with our services are always free and our design team is happy to help you make the most at every step of production. 

Making the Knife Nuts Podcast Challenge Coin

Written on December 19, 2019 at 10:15 pm, by

Combining irreverent humor and a passion for fancy knives, the Knife Nuts Podcast is a series dedicated to bringing the best and worst from knife community. Each host brings a sharp passion for their hobby and a unique perspective that’s a perfect recipe for an engaging podcast with thousands of people listening to every episode.

Recognizing their growing popularity, the hosts, including Levon “the Lover,” Dave “the Hater”, Jake “the Thinker, and Brian “the Maker,” wanted more than just t-shirts for their followers. For that, they came to AllAboutChallengeCoins for an order of custom coins meeting nearly any demand from their audience.

The Best (and Worst) of the Knife Community

The Knife Nuts Podcast has kept a steady schedule covering the best (and worst) of the knife community. While some might consider knives a niche topic, the Knife Nuts keep it fresh with episodes covering new knife acquisitions, their favorite manufacturers, the latest from industry conventions, and more. However, it isn’t simply the type of content they produce that’s led to their following.

From playing up an almost religious infatuation with Chris Reeves to bemoaning the quality of their earliest purchases, none of the knife nuts are afraid of engaging their community with biting, and often, self-deprecating humor. The cheeky personalities of the show hosts are one of the podcast’s defining characteristics. At AllAboutChallengeCoins, our main goal was to keep that personality and character represented on their challenge coin’s final design.

The Knife Nuts Challenge Coin

With a clear idea and a fully-sketched design, the Knife Nuts Podcast knew exactly how they wanted their custom coin design to look and feel when they contacted AllAboutChallengeCoins for this project. The most defining feature of their coin is the sheer number of plating and color variations available. Eight different versions in all, we’re capable of manufacturing this many variations by using the same mold for each version but using different complementary colors and metals. Manufactured at 2”, each variation of the coin has a definite weight and visual impact and uses a mostly metallic design with a specially-machined bezel edge.

The front of the coin features a full-color render of the podcast logo with a quick hint of its iconic brand of humor and the personalities of each host in stamped metal text. Flipping the coin over, a mighty seagull squawks its fury at the center of the design as a reference to New Jersey, home of Brian “the Maker.” Finally, the edge of the coin on this side also pays homage to a favorite knife manufacturer and the providence of the design’s initial high-polish copper plating. Overall, the final look and feel of the coin manages to keep the irreverent personality of the podcast and its hosts but delivers a classic-looking presentation that looks and feels great.

Adapting the Knife Nuts Design

Taking the original sketch, the art team at AllAboutChallengeCoins adapted each part of the design into a look, restyling the initial design into eight different proofs of varying combinations of color, plating, and customization. However, each variation of the Knife Nuts coin still needed to have the feel and look of the original sketch, which we accomplish through a mix of color choice and texture.

For example, to match the recessed details of the antiqued variations on the high-polish coins, we sandblasted parts of each side to give both a textural and visual contrast that kept the look and feel of the original artwork. Personally, our favorite variation of the design is the polished black nickel, which we colored with a specialized glow-in-the-dark enamel that looks great in low-light conditions. Ultimately, we’re pretty proud of our design team for being able to help adapt so many unique looking variations while still using only a single mold for the final design, which saves our client from having to additional mold fees for different variations.

Telling a Story With Every Design

With a variety of platings and colors, the Knife Nuts Podcast has a challenge coin for every taste. However, if you’re interested in a Knife Nuts Podcast challenge coin, you should act fast! We only manufactured 200 total challenge coins and the most popular variations are already selling quickly on the podcast’s official website

Ready to design your own custom challenge coin? Click here to get learn more about our expert challenge coin designs. With free shipping and quick turnover, you can rely on AllAboutChallengeCoins for the highest quality custom coins for every occasion. For any questions about our services, talk directly to the AllAboutChallengeCoins team!

Challenge Coins Honoring the Final Flight of the Delta IV Medium Rocket

Written on December 3, 2019 at 6:01 pm, by

From SpaceX to the latest NASA launch, every space launch is a marvel of modern engineering. However, on August 29th, 2019, the world closed a chapter in space travel as the Delta IV Medium Rocket took its final flight. Marking the historic occasion, the Delta crew called on AllAboutChallengeCoins to create a special operation coin to honor the rocket’s final mission.

A History of Service and a Rocket to the Future

It’s no exaggeration calling the Delta rockets one of space travel’s most prolific workhorses with 135 successful launches since the space race of the 1960s. Of those flights, the Delta IV Medium ran 29 successful launches on operations for national security, scientific research, and GPS deployment. The rocket’s final mission saw it carrying the Global Positioning System III Magellan satellite into orbit as part of an effort by the U.S. Air Force to modernize the GPS network. The rocket then closed a lifetime of service with a destructive deorbit into the ocean as part of an effort by ULA to minimize space debris in Earth’s orbit.

United Launch Alliance Delta IV GPS III SV02

While not the last Delta IV rocket to enter retirement (that honor belongs to the Delta IV Heavy configuration,) the end of the Delta IV Medium marks a passing of the torch as the Delta series of rockets is replaced by the Vulcan Centaur in 2021. While updated to modern specs, including a new American-made engine. The Vulcan will carry on the Delta IV’s legacy as the next national security workhorse with interchangeable ULA hardware that will give the Medium lasting influence long after retirement.

The Final Delta IV Medium Challenge Coin

When AllAboutChallengeCoins was approached to design a challenge coin for the Delta IV Medium’s final operation, we knew it needed to be something special to commemorate both the mission and the legacy of the Delta IV Medium as a workhorse of U.S. space travel.

Getting Started

For the coin design, ULA gave us an image of the rocket’s distinctive orange outline as a starting point. To keep the rocket at the center of attention, we used dark cool colors to fill the background and create a sharp contrast against the rocket’s iconic orange paint scheme. The original image used red for the stars and text, however, red wasn’t coming out very well in the first draft. For the actual coin, we used raised silver text in the coin’s natural plating instead to better match the color scheme. At 1.5”, the Delta IV Medium coin is slightly smaller than most challenge coins but makes the most of its size with a custom shape that show’s the Delta IV Medium in rocketing flight.

Design Continuity Front and Back

Flipping the coin over to its obverse, ULA wanted an American flag emblazoned across the back of the design. However, the initial design looked a little plain with just the American flag. Text in raised polished silver was added to honor the involvement organization involved in the last mission including the 45th Space Wing (45 SW), the 5th Space Launch Squadron (5 SLS,) and ULA. You’ll notice you can actually see the Delta IV rocket and its satellite payload peeking out from the other side. The design continuity of the rocket on the front and back of the coin is a unique touch most don’t even think about doing and the end result came out looking great in the final design. 

Designed specifically for the staff and crew who helped make the Delta IV Medium Rocket’s final mission successful, the only way to earn this unique coin is by being a part of one of those listed organizations on the coin’s obverse. 

Telling a Story With Every Design

Since it’s the first launch, the Delta IV Rockets have tirelessly worked as a foundation of U.S. space travel. To say we’re proud to help close their final chapter is an understatement. At AllAboutChallengeCoins, we craft products that are more than mere baubles, we try to tell a story with every project, from honoring a career of service to celebrating a lifetime of missions in space travel. At the end of this story, we’re proud to help commemorate this closing chapter in the service of the Delta IV Medium Rocket. 

Ready to design your own custom challenge coin? Click here to get learn more about our expert challenge coin designs. With free shipping and quick turnover, you can rely on AllAboutChallengeCoins for the highest quality custom coins for every occasion. For any questions about our services, talk directly to the team!

6 Unique Custom Bottle Opener Coins From the Military

Written on November 25, 2019 at 5:08 pm, by

Great for giving your custom challenge coin a purpose beyond display, adding a bottle opener to a custom challenge coin is one of our most popular options at AllAboutChallengeCoins. But from working with a more confined design to naturally integrating a bottle opener into a coin, bottle opener coins can pose more than a few challenges of their own.

However, that hasn’t stopped many of our clients from using their creativity to find unique ways to create inspiring bottle opener coins that are as cool to look at as they are practical to keep around the bar. To help inspire your next design, we’re sharing some of our favorite coin designs for custom bottle openers straight from the military.

75th Logistics Readiness Squadron (75th LRS) Coin

Starting off with a design for the 75th Logistics Readiness Squadron, a group with a history dating back to World War II. We’ve worked on a ton of similar coin designs with a bottle opener cut out of the coin’s interior, but this is a great example of how simple color and plating changes can elevate a design.

The squadron creates a simple but striking visual contrast by plating in black metal to highlight a patriotic design. Characterizing their proud role as a logistics and support squadron, their mascots and emblems are colored in red and white to create a striking look with the appearance of inked artwork. The black plating doesn’t just make this coin stand out from more common metallic plated coins, it gives their actual emblems a unique visual.

USS Carl Vinson

The USS Carl Vinson, a Nimitz-class supercarrier, has deployed in nearly every modern conflict since its maiden voyage in 1983. Notably, following Osama Bin Laden’s death, his body was brought aboard before being buried at sea. Overall, this ship coin uses a simple design that belies the vessel’s long history.

The choice of black on gold is more than just a classic aesthetic, it helps showcase 3D details on high-polish gold by toning down how much light reflects on the coin. Similar to other military coins, the ship’s motto is included along the edge which translates as, “Strength through the Sea.” Unlike other designs, no real attempt was made to hide or integrate the bottle opener. Instead, we placed it onto the bottom of the design-oriented below the 3D details to appear like a natural part of the overall coin design.

3rd Battalion 1st Marines

One of the first examples on this list to really start breaking the mold, the “Thundering Third” of the 3rd Battalion 1st Marines combine custom shape, color detail, and polished plating for a custom bottle opener coin that maximizes every part of their design. 

With three cut-outs, the coin loses out on a lot of surface area for content but the design goes around it by stripping the 3rd Battalion’s insignia down to their iconic raging bull image with three colored lightning bolts to represent the 3rd Battalion. Overall, the best part of this design for us is that it has a unique profile without sacrificing the look and feel of a traditional challenge coin.

4th Battalion 1st Special Warfare Group

Not just one of the most uniquely shaped bottle opener coins, this combat knife-shaped coin is one of the most uniquely shaped challenge coins we’ve made. Period. Most coins including an external bottle opener struggle with the oddly-shaped curve to their coin. The 4th Battalion got around this handily by removing the traditional coin shape entirely and almost seamlessly integrating the bottle opener into the hilt of the knife.

The narrow shape might make most text or detailing hard to read, white text and bright detail over a black metal plating keep everything visible. At 2.5” it’s slightly bigger than most challenge coins, but it’s narrow design actually makes it a smaller coin than you’d expect.

Navy Operational Support Center

A custom bottle opener coin made for the Navy Operational Support Center, you can’t help but come to the conclusion that they have more than a few football fans on staff. The bottle opener is almost seamlessly blended in as a helmet detail and the gridiron pattern is a unique way to mold visual texture onto a 2D challenge coin. At 2.5” the design is bigger than most designs and manages to maximize its available surface with its spread out helmet design.

557th ERHS

The 557th Expeditionary Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineer Squadron (also known as RED HORSE) ordered their challenge coin as a custom dog tag with a bottle opener cut out from the bottom for better leverage. With translucent paint over the 3D molded details, the 557th ERHS coin has a unique red texture over its central emblem. It’s actually fairly difficult to add color to 3D details and we’re happy to say the final product came out in shining relief.

Get Started With Custom Bottle Opener Coins

Adding a bottle opener can create new challenges for a design, but there’s a reason why it’s one of our most popular customizations at AllAboutChallengeCoins. Bottle opener coins give an opportunity for both form and function, but creativity is what elevates your design and we’re hoping these examples from the military will give you the right inspiration.

Still need help? AllAboutChallengeCoins has your back. Having made custom challenge coins for the military, law enforcement, and corporations alike, our designers are some of the most experienced in the business. Whether you’re looking to add a custom bottle opener to an existing design or working a fresh idea, we can help make the final product unique to your needs.

Optimizing Design For 3D Challenge Coins

Written on November 11, 2019 at 5:52 pm, by

Casting a challenge coin using a custom 3D mold is one of the best ways to add depth and fidelity to a challenge coin. But designing a 3D challenge coin isn’t as straightforward as swapping colors or changing coin size. From the use of colors to recommended sizing, the extra detail and depth of 3D coins also come with extra considerations for your initial design. 

Here are a few practical tips from AllAboutChallengeCoin’s team of designers to maximize your 3D challenge coins. 

Choose a Subject With Depth

A 3D image can make many designs look better by virtue of highlighting details and depth that’d get flattened out by a standard mold. However, don’t run into the mistake of thinking using a 3D mold will make any design or feature magically pop. Flat images or simple shapes will look about as flat as they did on paper. A 3D mold brings out existing depth and detail in a coin, subjects with a lot of visual texture will get the most out of 3D. 

For designs based on a photograph, subjects with a lot of texture such as buildings, animals, faces or anything with metalwork on it will come out looking great when featured on a 3D coin. In the example above, designed to honor Operation Okra, an F/A – 18 Hornet was a great subject for a 3D design because of the jet’s curved features and angled parts. That kind of curved and realistic detail really pops out in 3D. Conversely, using a 3D mold on a simple smiley face would just give you a slightly curved smiley face.

If you’re working with a drawing or artwork, just make sure the design itself has a lot of dimension and detail on it that can be raised and brought out in 3D.

Plate in Antique

Unless you’re using a translucent paint or other color feature to create contrast in your challenge coin, you’ll want to go with antique plating on a 3D challenge coin. With high polish plating, the rounded edges and curved areas of a 3D coin reflect light that can obscure details by shining over recessed areas on a coin. 

Antiquing a coin creates naturally darker areas in the recesses of your coin that make the raised surfaces of your design look clearer and helps bring out that textured detail from your artwork. On a purely aesthetic angle, most of our own designers recommend going for antique plating as the best option for most designs. Of course, that doesn’t mean high-polish designs can’t work, you’ll just need a design with flatter surfaces to make it work. If you’re not sure if antique or high-polish is best for your design, don’t be afraid to check in with one of our designers at AllAboutChallengeCoins.

Limit Color Use

If you’re using a 3D mold for your custom coin design, you’re going to need to make a few sacrifices with colors. AllAboutChallengeCoins uses an enamel color fill to individually add colors to the recessed areas of the challenge coin. However, with 3D challenge coins, it’s not possible to fill in color details like your traditional challenge coins because the sloped and curved recesses in 3D detail can’t hold paint. 

This doesn’t mean you can’t use colors on 3D challenge coins. It comes down to how you want to use color around the 3D details on your challenge coin. Most popularly, we’ve color-filled along the edge of 3D coins to frame the 3D details or added color to specific details on a 3D design that we can recess to hold the paint. If you really want to add color to details on a 3D design, ask for translucent paint! Translucent paint can be glazed over details as a wash to tint specific details in your desired colors.

Contrast With Dual Plating

One of the most effective ways to create visual contrast in a 3D coin design is to use dual plating on your challenge coin. We cannot oversell how combining two different plating options can create a really defining visual pop on coin design. Dual plating gives more options for customizing the look of a coin and also grants you the best of both worlds when using the different features of our plating options. Worried that matte plating will look too dull?

Add a high-polish plating to your coin to add a gleaming feature that will stand out. We’d recommend you avoid combining plating options from the same metal or you’ll the two options or going to end up mostly blending together.

Go Big With 3D

We mean this literally. A 3D challenge coin will define and mold out the details of your custom design. However, those details only look as big as the surface they are molded on and when 1.75” is the average size of a coin, that’s not a lot of space to showcase a ton of detail. Typically, the more detailed and textured the initial design, the bigger you should size a 3D challenge coin to make sure you can see all of that visible texture and detail. Of course, if your design has very large details, then you can get away with a smaller coin. Every design is going vary depending on any other customizations you might add but going bigger will almost always help make your detail look better.

As with any creative medium, designing a challenge coin comes down to knowing what you can accomplish with the materials and techniques on hand. But, AllAboutChallengeCoins has a ton of experience working with nearly every technique and style you could want on a custom challenge coin. While 3D challenge coins might take a few extra preparations, with our help you’ll be on your way to creating a uniquely sculpted coin that’ll be your next community favorite.

Still, need help? Check out some our other articles for designing and customizing your custom challenge coin:

Designing Veterans Day Challenge Coins

Written on October 11, 2019 at 9:33 pm, by

As organizations and businesses throughout the country prepare to celebrate Veterans Day with annual ceremonies and parades honoring local veterans, AllAboutChallengeCoins is busily working to meet renewed demand for custom challenge coins paying respects to our nation’s defenders. It’s one of our busiest times of the year, but we do our part gladly as a proud designer of Veteran’s Day challenge coins to businesses large and small honoring the military services of veterans in their communities.

Taking the time to honor veterans either working for your business or just within your local community with a Veteran’s Day challenge coin is a great way to honor their service in protecting our freedom. However, you should be ready to put serious thought into not only how you plan on designing a Veterans Day challenge coin but also on how you intend to present the challenge coin to veterans. Having worked in the business of designing high-quality military lapel challenge coins for over a decade, we’ve come to know a thing or two about the process and hope to offer some tips that will help you personally honor your organization’s veterans this Veterans Day.

Here’s our list of three tips for designing and presenting a lapel challenge coin in honor of Veterans Day.

Design Your challenge coin Way Before Veteran’s Day

Design your challenge coins early for Veteran’s day or else you might find yourself biting nails as you wait for them to arrive before the last minute. As we said, this is one of the busiest times of the year for us and more companies each year have begun commissioning unique lapel challenge coins as a way to honor their veterans. If you plan on doing the same, then it’s to your advantage to get in touch with our designers early with your ideas.

Within a day of receiving the ideas, we strive to get a full-color art proof drafted and sent back but you should always plan to have some time to work over new ideas or revisions to make the perfect challenge coin. Not to mention, production time after you’ve put in a final order can take seven to ten days to have your challenge coins delivered, which doesn’t include the time you might want to have them organized and ready to award.

Think Personally About Your Veterans When Designing a Veterans Day challenge coin

Military unit challenge coins are one of the most respected traditions in the U.S. Armed Forces and service members from the top-ranking generals to the private straight out of boot camp are liable to have a collection of unique challenge coins received from their schools, units or commanders. Custom military challenge coins are worn by Active Duty servicemembers and veterans alike to proudly display their history of service and duty in the Armed Forces and their one of the most beloved traditions. Each challenge coin in a veteran’s collection is unique but shares the purpose of representing respect for their service or the spirit of the unit they served with.

Likewise, a lapel challenge coin you commission for a veteran should be personally designed to represent the spirit and personality of your business or organization’s respect for its veterans. Which branches of the military did veterans in your business or community serve in? What operations or conflicts did veterans take part in? Think of these questions while you consider how you want a challenge coin to be designed and be sure to include not just symbols representing veterans in general but also the specific service and actions of the veterans your challenge coins are going to. Taking the extra step to honor not only a veteran’s service but their specific service is something veterans recognize and appreciate.

Think About How to Present Your Veterans Day challenge coin

Whether your company or community has only a few veterans or many veterans, Veterans Day is all about taking the time to specifically honor those individuals and thought should be placed in how you do that. Some companies and organizations host community-scale Veterans Day events where they individually present their challenge coins honoring veterans in their company or local communities. Special presentation ceremonies like these are a time for veterans, their families and communities as a whole to experience a true sense of gratitude and connection. Other groups prefer more personal presentations such as palming a challenge coin and presenting it privately as part of a “secret handshake.” Small gestures like these can express gratitude and respect in ways words would fail to do.

Preparing for Veteran’s Day this year, AllAboutchallenge coins is committed to ensuring the highest quality products to honor our nation’s veterans for their selfless dedication and service to our nation. As you prepare to honor the veterans in your community this year, we hope this article will help you design veterans day challenge coins that will leave an impression this Veterans Day.

One Last Thing

Veterans Day is all about saluting the men and women who have served in our nation’s Armed Forces. Taking the time to personally design and tailor a challenge coin to honor the veterans in your organization or community is a powerful gesture that demonstrates your respect for their military traditions as well as an appreciation of their service. Unlike the military challenge coins awarded by commanding officers and units in the military, Veteran’s Day challenge coins aren’t commissioned to honor a single act of service or length of term spent with a military unit, they represent a community, business or organization’s respect for a military veteran’s career of service and dedication. Being able to partner with local businesses and organizations to honor the veterans in their local communities are some of our company’s proudest projects and we are pleased to play even a small part in shedding light on the selfless services of our nation’s veterans.

10 Tips For Making Great Custom Challenge Coins

Written on October 1, 2019 at 8:21 pm, by

Designing a custom challenge coin sounds simple enough right? You’d be surprised. There’s more to challenge coin design than slapping a logo on and calling it a day. From plating, size, shape, and more, the choices can be daunting. Whether you’re designing your first challenge coin ever or this is just the latest in your organization’s history of different coins, following these 10 tips from our art team will help smooth the design process and make your end product much more impactful. 

1. Consider The Coin’s Role and Purpose

Get a feel for who it is you’re designing this coin for and why your custom coin design should be significant. Why are you making this coin? Is it recognizing a specific act or service? Is the coin a symbol of pride and solidarity? All challenge coins are designed with purpose, even if it’s as simple as honoring a single deed, paying your respects or just to be sold to raise money for a cause. You are designing a symbol and symbols have a purpose. 

2. Explore Your Coin’s Concept

Sketch out your ideas, collect your content, and come up with a few different variations of what you envision before sending them in for production. What emblems or imagery to incorporate? What colors or text to add? And how do you actually make people identify with a metal coin? Great challenge coins aren’t as simple as slapping a logo on a coin and calling it a day.  It’s always better to start your design with a clear concept before sending your ideas in. 

For example, if you’re thinking about having a custom coin manufactured in different plating styles, then it doesn’t hurt to actually put some thought into how those plating styles can change the way details and designs are displayed on the coin. 

3. Start with high-quality vectored artwork 

Look, we love to advertise the fact our design team can help create great challenge coin from something as rough as a napkin sketch or a written description, but there’s no getting around the fact that the better your starting artwork, the easier it will be to create a professional look matching your idea. Not only does this make the initial design easier to scale but it’ll be much easier getting the exact colors and features of the design right on the first go.

Granted, this will tie back to your art and Photoshop capabilities but something as simple as a vectored file with a rough outline of your coin shape with logos and text marked out will be leagues better than a grainy phone image of a drawing in bad lighting. 

4. Draw a design to scale

When responding to a request for a price quote, AllAboutChallengeCoins includes a scaling chart of your design. You can use this chart to help you visualize the actual size of your challenge coin as a finished product and decide whether you’ll need to go bigger if some of the details in your design aren’t coming out as intended. Whether as small as a quarter or as big as a dinner platter, outlining your challenge coin’s design at the size and scale you want ties directly into how your coin will look as a final product. 

If you need help deciding what size is best for your coin design, check our guide here on finding the best size for your coin design. 

5. Plating options matter

Gold or silver, polished or antiqued, your choice of coin plating sets the tone and visual of your entire design. Especially so if your design uses few colors or is entirely die struck. From a cooler look to a warmer tone, your choice of plating is like the canvas or backdrop for your entire design and you should take into account how your metal choice will influence the overall look of a design. Some of our best work has found interesting ways to combine a coin’s natural plating with typography and color options to create a fresh look.

6. Localize your design

A challenge coin isn’t just a coin, it’s a symbol of your organization whether it’s a military unit, fire department, law enforcement or business. That means aesthetics alone won’t cut it. On top of a flashy coin, customizing your coin to best express the personality or character of your organization is essential. Aim to include text, imagery or symbols on your coin significant to the organization and its duties. Look for ways to localize elements that are specifically significant to your organization’s membership. 

What separates a shiny bauble from a meaningful award is the personal significance an award symbolizes and how it touches on the day-to-day pride people take on their local efforts. 

7. Double-Check Each Design

We can’t stress this tip enough! AllAboutChallengeCoins does its best to ensure a top-quality product but we can only work with what we receive. Making sure every piece of text, artwork, and color choice are spot-checked before confirming the design will go a long way to ensure your challenge coin is exactly how you want it. We make sure to detail-check on our end, but details like the spelling of a name or the right version of artwork are things you might catch long before we realize something is off. 

8. Send Your Ideas in Early

The art team at AllAboutChallengeCoins works each day to create full-color renditions of the concepts our clients send in but it never hurts to plan ahead for revisions or time to work over different ideas once you see your concept drafted. Send your ideas in late, and you’re not going to have much time left to actually test ideas and spot-check your custom coin design. Most importantly, sending your ideas in late means you’ll be running the risk of not getting them in time for any deadlines or events you might need them for. 

9. 3D Molds are Great for Texture and Detail

If your custom coin’s design is based on a photograph of a person, building or a very-detailed sketch, it’s almost always best to get those details captured using a 3D mold. While you can definitely create fantastic designs using a traditional 2D mold, there’s nothing better for capturing texture and detail than having those details molded in 3D.

10. Measure Out Your Coin’s Actual Scale

One of the hardest things to envision is the actual scale and size of a custom challenge coin, which is why we make sure to include a scaling reference in all of our art proofs. Taking the time to actually measure out your coin design’s scale using a ruler or other measuring tool goes a long way to making sure the scale of your designs fits the final look of your order. This is especially important for coins with really complicated or detailed looks to them, which can become too small to look view if you order at a scale too small. 

Make Your Challenge Coin Work For You

Seeing a custom challenge coin go from concept to coin is one of the most rewarding parts of our jobs at AllAboutChallengeCoins. But don’t forget these coins are meant to work for you and represent your unique values and personality. Whether you see these coins being carried in back pockets or proudly displayed, make sure the final design is something that people getting them can identify with and has a snappy design they’ll love looking at.

Designing Custom Bottle Opener Coins

Written on September 12, 2019 at 9:21 pm, by

From the military, police, firefighters, and more, the ability to crack open a cold one with your organization’s custom coin has an undeniable charm. But adding a bottle opener to your challenge coin isn’t as simple as swapping out colors or changing your plating choice. Whether cutting out your coin or shaping the edge into the shape of a bottle opener, bottle opener coins face unique challenges to their design. However, with a little planning and a few of our key pointers, AllAboutChallengeCoins will get you on the way to creating a custom bottle opener coin.

Getting Started With Custom Bottle Opener Coins

Need a quick primer on how a bottle opener is added to a coin? Hit our product page for a full review. But for the purposes of this blog post, here’s what you need to know:

  • A bottle opener can be internally or externally added. External bottle openers are shaped along the edge of a coin as part of its overall shape. Internal challenge coins are cut out from the coin’s center and need to be at least 2” to have enough leverage to catch a bottle cap and comfortably flip it open. Meanwhile, external challenge coins require a very specific shape to the coin’s edge precluding you from some of our customization options for the coin edge.
  • Bottle openers change the shape of a coin. Whether you choose an internal or external bottle opener, your coin design will need to accommodate the shape of a lever into its design. How well you integrate your design with that shape decides how well crafted your coin’s going to look. 
  • Size can matter. You’ll need some leverage on your coin if you want to actually open a bottle with it and going for about 2” is usually the most comfortable size for custom bottle opener coins. Not to mention, it’ll give you more space to make up some of the surface area you lost accommodating the bottle opener in the first place. 

Internal Vs. External Bottle Openers

Now that you’ve got a quick understanding of the differences between internal and external bottle openers, let’s look at how they can influence your design and overall order. When envisioning your coin design try to ask yourself the following questions. Does a symmetrical design matter for your initial vision? Is there a time crunch for your order? Do you mind losing design space from the center of your coin? 

Keeping these questions in mind and having a cohesive vision for your design will help you decide which is best for your design because internal and external bottle openers each have different features. For example, internal bottle openers allow you to keep a symmetrical coin design but incur an extra setup fee. However, this also means most designs with an internal bottle opener have a more streamlined appearance that looks closer to a highly stylized traditional bottle opener. Meanwhile, external bottle openers can be produced more quickly and without a setup fee. However, the curved edge that an external bottle opener adds to a coin design can be hard to work around and many clients prefer being able to fully customize the shape of the actual coin. 

Working With Shape

It’s possible to get tripped up in your design when adding a bottle opener to your coin. After all, you’re possibly investing up to a quarter of your coin to what’s essentially empty space for the bottle opener. However, treating the unique shape of a bottle opener as a feature rather than an obstacle can help open some creative doors. 

From gaping maws to smiling mascots, many clients like to use internal bottle openers as a creative feature to their designs. Use your imagination to come up with new ideas that actually integrate the look of a custom bottle opener as both a visual and practical feature. 

Here are a few examples of how our clients have combined shape with their design:

Have Fun With Bottle Openers

Adding a bottle opener to your challenge coin design is a great way to add both form and function to a display piece. However, at the end of the day, they’re a fun addition to your coin design to help facilitate a good time. While adding a bottle opener to your custom coin can add challenges to your design, it adds one of the most interactive personalizations you could have on any challenge coin. 

AllAboutChallengeCoins is an expert manufacturer of high-quality custom challenge coins. Whether for the military, law enforcement, firefighters, nonprofits or just a local business, our designers help you create a unique product that helps build your group’s visual identity. If you’re interested in designing your own custom bottle opener coin, shoot us a message or fill out our online form today!