How to Make Tokens for Any Game System

It is hard to match the coolness of gaming with 3D miniatures and terrain, but miniatures can get expensive. A cheaper alternative to miniatures is 2d tokens. Tokens have two major advantages over miniatures: they are much much cheaper, and you can create a token to accurately match any creature in your game regardless of system or genre.  Best of all, tokens are very simple to make.

Materials List

Time and patience (seriously)                    Circular paper punch

Photo paper                                                       Chipboard

Glue stick                                                            Wax paper

Digital images

Step one

Select the images that you want to make tokens of. You can find anything you need by simply running a Google image search. I take my images directly from Wizards of the Coast. You have to search around (or click this link), to find them, but all the art from all the 3.0/3.5 books can be found free of charge. (That is one problem I have with 4th edition, most of the art galleries require a DDI subscription)

For player characters and NPCs, use Wizard’s PC Portrait archive. This is a virtual treasure trove of original pc artwork done by some of the best in the gaming industry.

Step two

Once you have the images that you want, paste them into a Word or Publisher document. I have seen other sites mention fancy token making software and Photoshop programs, but you don’t need any of those. Simply paste your images onto a MS Word document placing them in even lines. By double clicking the image on the page, you can adjust its size, color, etc.

For some large pictures, you may want to crop the portion that you intend to use. Again, you don’t need fancy software, your computer’s Paint program will work just fine. Make sure the image is larger than the token. For example, a tiny, small, or medium token will be a one-inch circle, so make you image 1.25 – 1.5 inches to ensure you don’t lose any part of the image when you cut it.

Also, don’t bother trying to make a fancy border around your picture, they are hard to cut out and take up valuable space.

Step three

Once you have your images arranged on a Word document, you’re ready to print them out. Use a high-grade photo paper. It costs more, but the added quality is worth the cost.

Learn from my mistakes. In the past I have tried several different paper types, sticker paper (don’t cut cleanly, and the image is grainy), various cardstocks (any images will be low quality) to name a few, photo paper is your best bet.

Step four

Once your images are printed out, you’re ready to cut. (Note: the printer ink will likely still be wet on your photo paper, so be careful and allow it an hour to dry before messing with it)

Save yourself a world of trouble and purchase a circle cutter from your local scrapbook store. They come in various sizes, and you will need a 1” punch for tiny, small, and medium, a 2” for large, a 3” for huge, a 4” inch for gargantuan, and a 6” for colossal (but you will use this one so rarely you can skip it and cut out squares if you like).

By using these punches, you will save yourself a great deal of trouble and frustration. I started out with just a 1” punch and tried to cut the larger monster into squares. The end product (regardless of the tools used), was not high quality. The circle punch will give you a perfect cut every time and look amazing.

Marvy or EKsuccess brands work well

Step five

Next, you will need to glue the circle onto a sturdier material. Some sites recommend washers, but that can get costly, take up more room and weigh a ton. Just use chipboard (thin cardboard) that you can get for next to nothing at the scrapbook store where you bought your circle punch. Punch out several chipboard circles. Glue your photo paper images onto the chipboard circles with glue and you’re nearly done.  (Note: don’t try and save time by gluing the photo paper to the chipboard and then trying to punch out the images, the photo paper/chipboard combo will be too thick and you’ll get ragged cuts)

Final step

Place your tokens on a flat, hard surface, cover with a piece of wax paper, and place several heavy books on top. Leave the tokens to dry for several hours.

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24 Responses to “How to Make Tokens for Any Game System”

  1. Oh great Boccob….thank you for your insight. The minion Dan R said you would be posting said info. and since i no longer have time to paint this will be a welcome substitute.

    • I’m glad you like them. In some ways they are much better than minis because you can have a token for any creature, not so with miniatures. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Actually I am thinking about doing this as I go about writing adventures. having some sort of marker is really handy and I sure as heck don’t want to kick out the money for minatures.

  3. They don’t have a mini for each monster, but you can easily make a token for any monster.

  4. I made about 50 tokens tonight, and now I am addicted. This has worked out great! I should have reread this blog before getting started because my first batch was a little rough.

    A few comments of difference. The wax paper is important if you have run off, which I did with my first set. Also I used a rubber cement type pen at first, then changed over to a glue stick which actually worked much better. The rubber cement pen gave too much and was too gloppy. The glue stick can just be rubbed off if there is any excess.

    I bought a different style of punch. This was a double action punch that you squeeze to cut. I found that this allowed me to actually cut the cardboard and the photo paper once glued together. This meant I could cut the images of photo paper into strips then glued the strips onto strips of the cardboard. Then I could punch through both and so far it has cut well. Though my device is still super sharp since I just bought it. there is a chance that over time it may not cut clean. I think the double action makes it function a little beter for this purpose.

    Switching over gluing strips together probably doubled my efficiency, and actually gave me a better amount of glue coverage. I got this advice btw from my wife, so I am not by any mean taking credit for it.

    However your technique this has been a really inexpensive and useful way to make tokens. Plus as Andy says you can make whatever token you can find an image for. Now I need to get my hands on the 2 and 3 inch punch to make my bigger monsters.

    • Cool. You can sharpen your punch by using it on aluminum foil, and keep it from sticking (and allow for an easier punch) by punching wax paper between jobs

  5. Hi Boccob, how thick is the chipboard that you use?

    • Maybe twice the thickness of card stock? A little thinner than a cereal box. It comes in different thickness. Your best bet is to ask around at a scrap booking store. Best of luck!

  6. Thanks, that sounds like the stuff I have been using. I tried thicker but my EK punch could not cut it. I am also using adhesive backed sheet magnet to make tokens compatible with Alea Tools magnet system.

    • Jeremy,

      You can keep that EK Punch sharp by using it on aluminum foil, and keep it from sticking by punching waxed paper. Best of luck! Thank you for reading.

  7. What thickness chipboard did you use? I’m finding .022 (light) and .057 (medium) thicknesses.

  8. Use the thinner chipboard, I broke my 2 inch cutter trying to use the med.

  9. Tristan Vann Says:

    How do you cut chipboard into circles larger than 2″? I can’t seem to find a cutter/punch anywhere in the larger sizes, even online.

  10. You could try skipping the glue and extra cuts by printing on heavy cardstock? I’m not sure how that compares to chipboard, but it would be faster.

    • You certainly can. That is the easiest and quickest way, but the image quality suffers a little bit on cardstock. If you want a higher quality image, print on photo paper and then glue to chip board or washers. Either way works well, just a matter of taste.

      • Your end results are definitely higher quality. 🙂

        My plan is to use tokens as a quick/inexpensive option, and use miniatures when I have time to paint them. I was also able to print on both sides of the cardstock this morning.

        Thanks for the guide.. very helpful!

      • You’re very welcome. I use the circle punches to make blank 1-inch and 2-inch circles on white card stock and carry a stack in my dice bag for super-quick tokens. I just write the names, AC, and damage right on the token.

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