It's hard to explain just how to format an image to fit onto a pin. It's tricky enough to come up with something that looks good in a circle, and if you aren't familar with computers or graphics programs it's even harder. A lot of the designs I get submitted to make pins from could look much better with just a few changes. Here's a little advice on how to get the most out of your pin design.

I use Adobe Photoshop for my graphics work, which has a $500 pricetag. No, I'm not rich -- the Cleveland Public Library has a copy you can check out for free. You'll have to put it on reserve and wait ages for other people to get done checking out, but it's well worth it. I used MSPaint and various shareware programs for years, but Photoshop is much easier and much more versatile. A lot of people use Paint Shop Pro as it's far cheaper than Photoshop and you can always download a trial of the latest version. I've never had a lot of success with it and don't know much about it, but it's a popular option. Search for it at

If you're using a pre-existing image for your pin (like a sticker or website logo you already designed), use the highest resolution or biggest size you can find, preferably at least 300 dpi. Blowing up tiny images at low resolutions makes ugly, pixelated big images. If it looks "chunky" on your computer, it's just going to look worse on the pin -- the small size of the pin doesn't help much. Bad quality pins make both of us look bad. Also, square images are easier to fit on a pin than ones that are narrow and rectangular.


Here's some examples of good and bad pin design with a pin for my band, Iron Oxide. This first pin is an example of how your finished design should look on my template. The text is large and legible and fits within the inner circle area of the pin. The inner circle line is erased, and the background color fills the entire bleed area. Keep in mind all the example images are saved at low resolution so this page loads faster -- the real pin would be at 300 dpi.

The following examples are all how your pin shouldn't look. On this pin the bleed area doesn't extend all the way, and the black inner circle line wasn't erased.

The bleed area extends all the way to the outer edge on this pin, but the black inner circle line is still present. The line will show up on the pins, and it just doesn't look right.

The design on this pin doesn't fit onto the pin. Once this pin is made, the edges of the letters would go off the side. The black inner circle line was left in to help show how the text is too large.

The text is too small on this pin to be very legible. If you squinted you could read it, but pins look best when the text is as large as possible.

The pin above at 72 dpi. Resizing an image at 72 dpi shows you how big it will be once printed, and is a good way to see what your finished pin will look like and to make sure that everything is legible.

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