Creating Custom Tokens/Assembling Borders & Tokens
Character token art is often reflective of the characters you make and how you want to represent them. Making a custom token art requires some skills in regards to photoshop and basic photo editing skills.
Tokens usually consist of 3 different layers that are integral to its composition
- The border itself
- The character art
- The background
Border art can be found on many different sites like Pinterest, with a culmination of free vector art sites, or free game vector art. Most search queries or inquiries you should be using when searching for them should include the keywords “frame” “Border”, “Circle”, “Octagon”, “Square”, “Hexagon” or even “corner”. If you can’t find art that seems to be not filled in art and not a border you can also use the word “Abstract” in the beginning of your search. To find different combinations.
Next is character art, the character art I find can be found on subreddits like r/dnd, r/ReasonableFantasy, r/imaginarycharacters, and r/characterdrawings, Artstation, and Deviantart. When selecting character art, you’d ideally want to select ones that are portraits as they reveal more of the face of what you’re trying to frame.
With a filled in border, you want to start hollowing out the border of choice. You want to select the select and mask option while using the magic wand tool. In a dropdown tab make sure you select the output to selection instead of layer mask. You can use your mouse to select portions of the image that you want to enter into your selection to delete, if you don’t want to select that portion, holding alt while clicking negates that portion.
Some easy helpful tips when using photoshop could be holding alt and scrolling inward zooms into your image for example. This is especially important if you’re attempting to mask or select small crevices in your image. Once you’ve removed your selection, it should be checkered indicating that the background is clear. To once more see if you have any unwanted white halos around your border, you can select new, then layer, then new fill layer. Creating a black fill layer can oftentime reveal any blank spots that aren’t cleaned up.
If your vector border is already hollowed out and ready to use, you can ignore this step and move onto putting your border and character art together. start by unlocking my image, and then converting this image into a smart object. Converting the image into a smart object prevents it from lowering in quality when you transform the image. Transforming the image lets you resize the image, and the shortcut key is control + T. You should also make sure your border layer should be on top of the image you're framing otherwise your character art will be on top instead. Then, right click on the character art on that layer and rasterize the image. Rasterizing the image will allow you to use the eraser tool to get rid of the overhanging boxes that are around the border.
You can stop here, and not merge the layers, but save the border as a photoshop file so you can use it for another token. But I’m going to merge the layers, and save the image as I’m happy with my result. To maintain file sizes for roll20, I suggest you save the image as 500×500 pixels, and a 100-300 resolution.
Creating Custom Background for Tokens
Some artists like to have character art to be already under a background, having a background already can save you some time with the last step as well. And is up to you whether or not you want to keep it. If you decide to remove it, you can use the select subject option when selecting the magic wand tool. The Photoshop AI will determine the subject in the image and create a selection for you to save time. Once your image is selected. Right click on the selection and select “select inverse”. Selecting the inverse creates a selection around the image which is what you want to delete.
To create your own background, you can use the brush tool, and find colour palettes online to mix and match so you have an understanding of the colour composition and fill in the circle on another layer. You can also use the new fill layer, and then use the eraser tool to get rid of it that way.
We’re going to do a runover of what I just did again but with a different style of border, previously we could get away with erasing the border, but that takes some time to do. As you can see, I’m converting the image into a smart object to put with my background, using the eyedropper tool to get a colour swatch that matches the artist's original background and then filling it in. I’m now going to use the circle marquee tool and then drag from the corner to finish this border.
Creating your new background can be easily done by creating a new layer, and using that layer by colouring in your background with the paintbrush tool. When choosing a background colour, you can either use the one the artist has chosen, and fill in the blank spots by copying the colour with the eyedropper tool, or by searching up colour combinations, colour swatches or palettes to determine a more distinctive matching background.
After you’ve done all that, you can start customizing portions of your border. Right click the layer for your border, and click on blending effects, there are a variety of options you can use when applying different effects to it. One of them is changing the colour overlay, and other is applying a gradient overlay, doing so will create a different effect. You also decide to customize the token itself and add things like drop shadows, or filters.
After this is done, you can start by removing the background art of your image that you chose. Since this is an open border, you’ll need to remove the border using the elliptical marquee tool. This can be changed and swapped out with the default rectangular tool. When using the elliptical marquee tool you’ll want to drag along a corner to create a circular shape. Then like before with the character art select inverse and delete it.
Preparing Borders for use on the Tokenstamp tool
Perhaps you're too lazy and you also do want to have a lot of token borders ready to use. To prepare your custom border for tokenstamp you want to change the size of the border to 256 by 256 pixels as that's the size that tokenstamp accepts. You can change this by selecting image and then image size and then changing the pixels there, or, you can change the canvas size, and then transform the object. You do not need to convert the image into a smart object because you’re reducing the size of the object rather than having to increase and decrease the size of the image. You should convert to a smart object if you're enlarging the size however.
You then want to apply a colour overlay blending effect to the border to the colour white. Changing the colour to white or a lighter shade allows you to change the border colour while in tokenstamp.
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