May 22, 2014 by catomighty
About a month ago, I was pondering a way to make snazzy spell tokens to use while playing Dragon Dice. Many of the spells in the game have a once-off effect, but many others linger for a full game turn or longer. I know some players keep a pad of little sticky notes to use for marking the lingering spells. But I prefer something more sparkly for such duties ^,^ And then one day in my local big-box craft store, I spotted a Shrinky Dink machine marked way down on sale — Eureka! This would work nicely for making custom tokens for Dragon Dice, and other tokens for Chibi dungeoning.
The machine has a small heating element which fires up quickly. It’s great to use for colour tests and prototyping. For doing full production, firing up the kitchen oven is the way to do big runs. It also came with a few small sheets of the Shrinky Dinks Frosted Rough N Ready plastic. I also picked up a pack of larger sheets of shrink plastic of another brand. Initial testing showed that the off-brand plastic did not shrink and shape nearly as well as the official brand. I’ld name names — but it was so bad, I threw the whole package away and don’t actually recall the brand. I then hunted down packs of the actual Shrinky Dink material. The Frosted Rough N Ready plastic colours up very nicely!
First step was testing various colour markers to use. When the plastic shrinks, the colours are deeply intensified. So standard marker colours come out way to dark to read any writing on them. After a fair amount of testing, I wound up using a couple of different brands of markers.
Coloured the edges of each token as well as the top surface.
For the Yellow, I used a Sharpie brush-tipped marker. It’s a cheap marker and the colour worked nicely. In retrospect though, if I do this again, I’ll use a Prismacolor one. Sharpie fumes are always good for getting loopy on…
The Prismacolor markers worked best. Either the brush- or chisel-tip work fine. I used the Cool Grey 30% and Apple Green. None of the local stores had the full range of red and blue shades though, and I couldn’t find one of those that was light enough. (True Blue and Copenhagen Blue darken too much, and Light Cerulean Blue is too greyish for me).
For the last two colours, the best shades I found were Tombow at the local Blick Art store, 493 Blue and 885 Red. These are water-based markers though, and the much of the colour rubs off onto your fingers from the plastic unless you wear a latex glove on the hand you use to handle the plastic while drawing or setting them up on a sheet for baking.
For lettering, I mostly used a Sharpie Fine point; and a Micron Art .05 just for lettering any specific army race code.
The Shrinky Dink plastic can be run through some computer printers, but not mine. So I had to draw the shapes and letter them by hand. This actually wound up taking an insanely long amount of time to finish! But by the time I realised how much time it was taking, it only made sense to continue going…
For cutting up the plastic sheets, I drew out the grid for the lozenge and square tokens on a sheet of scrap paper. Then put the plastic over this and traced the lines on each sheet, then cut them apart with an XActo and a steel ruler.
Here’s one of the sheets drawn out for the lozenge shaped tokens, along with a cut-out piece, and a lettered and shrunk one. The plastic shrinks to about 1/3 it’s original size and gets about 9 times thicker:
For cutting the circular tokens, I got a 2-1/2″ circle lever punch in the scrapbook section of the craft store. Removing the plastic catch-guard from the bottom of the punch and holding it upside down while operating it, allows for cutting 12 circles out of an 8″ x 10″ sheet of the plastic. Just have to very carefully line up the punch so it is right at the edges of the plastic before cutting, and slightly stagger each row, to get all the punches to fit. For punching the circles in the middle of the sheet, some of the excess waste material has to be trimmed away first so the punch can be lined up right on the edges of the neighboring punches:
For the Dragon Dice tokens, I cut different shapes to show the type of target the spell is cast on. 3″ x 2″ lozenges target a Terrain. 2-1/2″ circles target an Army. 2-3/8 squares target a Unit. A coffin-shaped one for the one spell that targets the Dead Unit Area. And long triangles for lingering Army effects of Dragon breath attacks.
The lettering I block printed on a sheet of graph paper first, then traced each token over that. There’s a small font number at the top of each spell token that shows the casting cost of the spell. And if a spell is unique to a particular race, there’s a small font letter code on the bottom of the token.
The Yellow, Grey, and Green tokens were coloured first and then lettered. Because early tests of the Blue and Red showed the colour rubbed off onto my fingers when handled, I lettered those first and then coloured them. Early tests also showed that the Black Sharpie for the lettering smeared when coloured over. So, I let the lettering dry overnight (or longer) before colouring.
Unfortunately, while there was no visible sign of the dried-Sharpie letters smearing, the tokens that I did that way did come out greyer after being shrunk than the initial test ones with lettering on top of the colour. Grr. If I do this again and must use a water-based marker: wear glove, colour first, then letter.
For big-batch shrinking, I baked these on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Depending on the different shapes, 4–6 minutes baked at 350 degrees F did the trick. Smooshed them flat with a spatula while they were still warm and soft. If some of them didn’t look completely shrunk or weren’t quite flat, I tossed them back in for another 2 minutes baking and another smooshing.
Interestingly, not all of the shapes shrunk to uniform shapes. Some of the circles came out ovaloid, and some of the squares rectangled. Huh. Here’s the nearly finished result of all the shrinking:
Nearly finished? When sorting them out into the storage boxes, spotted that I had a minor misprint — had lettered a double batch of Wind Walking and failed to letter a batch of Watery Double, whoops. Back to the circular lever punch…
The best storage boxes I found for these are a pair of hard plastic ones I found at JoAnn Fabrics in the bead section. These are 3/4″ deep, which is deep enough for a stack of up to 10 Shrunk Dunks. These should be enough to cover all the magic action in a 4-player game: