Today's blog will cover the basics of what a badge is, all the materials you will need to make one, and then just the sketch portion!
What Is a Badge?
To put it extremely simply, a badge is just a small illustration of a character, often laminated so it can be worn on a lanyard. Think of them like ID badges, only more unique. Furries like to wear these badges at conventions and local events so other furries can easily identify them. When you know people as an animal character online, it can be difficult to match their real face to that of their character! Most badges will feature at least a character’s face, but some show shoulders or even a full body pose, and that character’s name.
To the right, you can see a couple of my badges in use at a convention a few years ago! No one will confuse me with any other person now!
- Thick Paper (Bristol, cardstock, or other)
- Inking Pen (Micron or other)
- Copic Markers
- Colored Pencils (Prismacolor or other)
- Scrapbook Paper (not glittery or textured)
- Laminator (optional)
- Lamination Sheets (for your laminator, OR self-sticking)
- Gluestick or Tape
- Badge Clip
- Hole Punch or Small Knife
Step 1: Sketching Tools
TIP: There are many, many, many different kinds of paper on the market. Try out a bunch until you find one you like! However, for badges, make sure anything you use has a smooth texture! When you go to laminate, any bumps won't seal properly and you will get these weird air pockets that look super ugly. Things like vellum brisol paper and watercolor paper are terrible for laminated badges!
I also spare no expenses when it comes to my sketching tools! Like cardstock versus Bristol paper, you can purchase fancy art pencils to sketch with, however I prefer my simple mechanical pencil and basic white eraser. Because we’re just using the pencil to do the initial sketch with, it’s not important to have top-of-the-line pencils for this! However, you are going to want to pick up a better quality white eraser, NOT what’s on the back of your pencil or one of those awful pink things you used in grade school. Kneaded erasers are another option, especially if you want to do more graphite work at a later date, or if you like to make little eraser sculptures when you're bored! I personally think they’re a bit too soft for the kind of erasing we’ll be doing, but if they’re you’re thing, go for it! I have a love-hate relationship with them outside of graphite pieces.
Step 2: Expressions and your Character
Step 3: Can I Sketch Yet?
TIP: If you struggle with keeping your art to a reasonable size, try cutting down your paper to whatever size you want! If I’m going to a convention where I know I’ll be busy with custom badges, I’ll pre-cut my cardstock into fourths to make sure I don’t accidentally make my badges all sorts of random sizes!
Once you have decided on your expression, get to sketching your character! If you’re doing a bust, don’t worry too much over how to finish off the area beneath the shoulders because that’s where the name is going to go. The only thing you should worry about is putting the character down onto the paper.
TIP: Draw LIGHTLY. You are going to be erasing this sketch eventually, so make sure you draw as light as possible. Drawing too heavily can leave “ghost” lines after you erase, or even intentions! Unfortunately, there is no simple fix for drawing too heavily; you can only fix it by practicing!
Step 3: Names and Lettering!
Another thing to consider is the “font” of the letters. While you can always just write the name in your regular handwriting, designing something unique can really pull together the entire piece. Try tying your choice of lettering into the character’s expression or interests. For example, an aggressive character will be better suited for an aggressive-looking, scratchy font than a bubbly, vintage font.