How to Design Challenge Coins

How to Design Challenge Coins 1

Challenge coins have been around since at least the early 1900s. According to legend, a WWI American jet fighter pilot used a coin minted with his unit’s insignia to avoid being shot as a German spy by the Allied forces. Since then, all kinds of organizations have embraced the challenge coin, from the police force to political groups.

Are you thinking of designing a challenge coin to honor a person, event, or institution? You need to take several necessary steps to ensure your coin turns out precisely as you wish. Read on to find out what they are.

Define the Purpose of the Coin

Before you even get started on all the fun stuff like shape, size, and color, you need to understand the purpose of the custom coins you’re creating. Ask yourself:

  • Who is the coin going to be given to?
  • What does it commemorate?
  • Which organization is gifting the coin?
  • Does the design need to include anything specific (colors, logos, or phrases)?

You only have a tiny amount of space to play with. Knowing the pur[pose of the coin will help you decide what elements of the design are essential to include.

Lock-In the Look

Now that you know why you’re creating your custom challenge coins, you can focus on the design itself.

To get started, review some standard coin designs. If you’re looking for inspiration for police challenge coins, check it out. Other challenge coin examples can be found using a simple Google search.

Next, sketch your mock-up by hand or use a digital drawing program on your phone or computer.

Consider Your Plating Options

The type of metal you choose is crucial when deciding on challenge coin options. The plating will influence everything from the piece’s overall look to the kinds of colors and design features you can use.

Plating options include:

  • High-polish plating
  • Antique plating
  • Black plating
  • Rainbow or anodized painting
  • Dual metal platting

Consider the metal and plating choice as the backdrop of your coin design.

Hone in on Size and Shape

Most customized coins are a little less than 2 inches in diameter—about the size of a golf ball. If this seems too small for you, you can go larger. If you want a smaller coin, keep in mind that you will have to compromise some design features, particularly wording.

The most common shapes include round, square, triangular, and oval. Of course, you can also choose a custom shape, like a shield design or designs featuring cut-outs.

If you’re looking for a coin that’s more than just a display item or keepsake, some companies even offer coins that double as bottle openers, screwdrivers, and wrenches!

Designing Challenge Coins: The Process Explained

Custom challenge coins are a thoughtful way to honor the efforts of an individual or a team. These small keepsakes can be displayed on a wall or in an album and even passed down through generations as an heirloom. Because people tend to keep these coins for at least their lifetime, you need to take the design process seriously.

For more helpful advice on everything from design to daily living, browse the other articles on our blog.

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