Step #1: Design your minis.PrevNext
- Check the directions to figure out how much your film is going to shrink. The film we used shrinks by about 50%, meaning that the designs as printed need to be about twice as big, in each dimension, as the desired miniature size.
- If you want to make your minis stand upright by adding bases, be sure to leave an empty “tab” at the bottom of each image so they can be attached without covering the art. Medium-size binder clips, for instance, have a footprint of about 1.25"×3/4" which, accounting for 50% shrink, will cover a 2.5"×1.5" “tab” at the bottom of each image.
- If you don’t want to design your own minis, or just want to experiment with the method, we've put together two opposing sets of squad-level markers for Ground Zero Games' fantastic open-source sci-fi wargame Stargrunt II. Download the ready-to-print artwork for the Earthicans and Squidites.
Step #2: Print 'em out.PrevNext
Shrinking causes the color saturation of your images to increase, so they will need to be lightened before printing to keep them from ending up too dark. You can use the color settings dialog on some printers for this, or a dedicated image-editing program like GIMP or Photoshop. We've had best results from turning the brightness up about 50% before printing, but you may want to experiment before printing a large batch.
Step #3: Cut 'em out.PrevNext
You can make the profiles as complex as you like, but keep in mind you may have to cut out a lot of them, so you may want to avoid a lot of intricate edge detail and internal openings. Square or rectangular is naturally easiest. Casualty and other "flat" counters can be designed this way, and cut out quickly in bulk using a swing-arm paper cutter.
Step #4: Shrink 'em.PrevNext
- Refer to the directions on your film for shrink times and temperatures. Ours took about 10 minutes per batch, in an oven preheated to 300°F.
- Watch the pieces as they shrink. They will curl up, then re-flatten — sometimes not completely. If that happens, compress them gently with the back of a spatula while they're still hot. Let them cool before handling.
Step #5: Finish the edges (optional).PrevNext
I find a black edge looks better than a bare one. A paint pen works better than a Sharpie.
Step #6: Add bases (optional).PrevNext
- Bases for shrink film minis (or any flat game mini) can be improvised readily from small binder clips. The photo sequence illustrates the process.
- Clamp the clip to the base of the piece as shown.
- Remove the wire handles from both sides of the clip by compressing them. The black spring remains in place on the mini, forming a functional, discreet, good-looking base.