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BlueDingoGaming

Where To Start With Custom Minifigure Printing?

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Hello everyone,

I am a huge fan of Lego (I have been since I was a child, and still am at 20 years old). I have been wanting to get into custom Lego minifgure printing and decaling for some time now but I am lost on where to start exactly. I am in college currently studying graphic design so I already own all the Adobe programs (Illustrator, Photoshop, etc). I know how to use them, but don't know where to even start with making the blank 2D patterns in Illustrator. Could someone help me or point me in the right direction on how to begin this? I would eventually like to start my own company (won't happen for a few years though), and just need some pointers on where to begin. (I am familiar with pad printers, I just need help on making templates and where to begin on making/designing/scaling them).


I also do apologize if this topic was brought up before, and if it was could anyone link me to those threads?

 

Thank you!


-BlueDingoGaming 

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Hello, BlueDingoGaming, and welcome to Eurobricks and the Minifig Customisation Workshop.

You shoud definitely start by browsing the Minifig Customisation Index and Guidelines thread, especially the Tutorials section. Lots of members contributed to it during the years and it contains many information on how to design, print, apply and get resources for decals and so on.

I hop it will be helpful to you, too.

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I usually create designs at 600 dpi.  At that resolution, lines consistent with official lego minifigs tend to be 3 to 6 pixels wide.  At that resolution, you shouldn't need to do any half-toning; also, some custom printers dislike color gradients for some reason so it is probably best to not blend pixel edges.  I'd start by just making some designs and printing them onto regular paper to see how they look, then try waterslide decals, and then eventually try having them printed directly onto the parts.

The printers I've used are minifigfx, minifigs.me, and bricksanity.  Heads tend to be $3-$4 each, and single-sided torsos tend to be $5-$7 each, so I really only do this when decals look inadequate.

If you plan to start your own company, be advised that the printers themselves are ridiculously expensive, like $30k (USD).  The cheaper option is digital UV printing, which allows for small print runs.  The higher-end option is pad printing; that is what lego uses, and also some of the other customizers such as Citizen Brick.  Digital UV is mostly almost as good, but in order to print lighter colors on a dark base it has to first print a layer of white, and if the colored ink on top is misaligned even a bit with the white layer, the edges look imperfect.

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There's a tutorial on creating torso designs here: 

 

 

As a design student and with you stating you know about Pad and Digital printing I'll assume you know that if you're creating designs to be printed by a pad printing you're better off working with vector artwork (Illustrator) as each colour will need a separate plate making for that corresponding pad.

For me the most important thing is to work with the Lego design ethic. Creating designs that look like they were done by Lego makes them 'feel' real to me. That includes working with the correct weight of lines, trying to match colours to existing Lego colours etc. Lego have gone through phases of making elements on a design look more realistic such as belts or straps not just being straight lines but being slightly curved and having clothing elements contain creases etc. Make look at how they take real life designs and make them 'Lego-fied' such as Star Wars characters.

If you're creating designs for Super Heroes figures then most muscle torsos follow the same design as a base but then have graphic for each character added.

I recreated the SDCC figures from a couple of years ago for decals in Illustrator which can be found here:

 

There are two versions of Jpeg there... The 300DPI one is adjusted to people can print onto decal paper or sticker.

I did these a few years ago of some Green Lantern figures. You can see what I mean about the muscle lines being standard and then working the design onto it. 

 

 

Edited by Robianco

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