In addition to being a game designer, I’m also a crafting nerd and someone who enjoys experimenting with materials. I’ve found tons of materials that can be used in many different ways, and one of them is Shrink Sheets, Shrinkles or Shrinkie Dinks. They’re all the same kind of material, just different brand names.
Shrink Sheets are plastic sheets that shrink between 50 – 75% while the thickness of the material increases to around 2 – 4 mm in thickness.
Shrink Sheets can be used in many ways and I tend to use them as board game pieces or minis for RPGs. The only problem I’ve found with them so far is scaling things properly. It takes a bit of experimenting, and since the shrink rate isn’t consistent between brands or even colors from the same brand, it can be a bit tricky. I’ve used the transparent ones to create markers for miniature war games as well.
So, using Shrink Sheets for board game markers or RPG markers turns out to be a good way to get away from flimsy paper and it’s even sturdier than card stock. Because the originals are larger than the finished product, the level of detail also looks great. Unless you smudge it. Hot tip. Test your colors on the material before creating super detailed stuff.
For this experiment I chose to transfer my 3rd edition Call of Cthulhu sheet of investigators to Shrink Sheet plastic. What you’ll need:
- Some transparent Shrink Sheets of the same brand as your final figures.
- Shrink Sheets, white or frosted. You’ll want the frosted rather than the entirely transparent if you’re only doing silhouettes. The transparent plastic usually won’t look as good, and the only markers that work relatively well are Sharpies or Faber-Castell’s permanent markers. I actually prefer the Faber-Castell brand, but in North America, Sharpies are easier to find.
- A black or other color thin permanent marker to draw outlines on the transparent Shrink Sheet.
- Permanent markers or colored pencil for the white/ frosted Shrink Sheets. The color might bleed a bit if you’re using permanent marker, so be careful.
- If you have white Shrink Sheets, a light table or a light source such as a window to transfer outlines.
- An oven or toaster oven. A lot of people buy a toaster oven specifically for crafts, because the plastic fumes can leave a residue on the inside of the oven. I always bake stuff in aluminum foil containers with lids.
- The art you want to transfer, a scanner and image processing software such as Photoshop (although it only needs to be able to scale and print).
- A printer.
- Character stands to put the shrunken sheets in.
First off I had to figure out what scale to enlarge the silhouettes to. For this instance, 240% in Photoshop did the trick. I did have to test it out, so I started with 220% and that was just a tiny bit too small. If you’re good at math, it should be enough to draw a matrix on a piece of shrink sheet, shrink it and then use that to calibrate the shrink rate. I’m not good at math, so I wing it and test shit. In this case the Shrink Sheets said “more than 50%”, so I scaled the image accordingly.
In this instance, 240% was on the dot, and this is what I use the transparent Shrink Sheet for. Draw the outline, shrink and compare to the original.
Once you have your size, it’s just a matter of drawing (or if you have printable sheets, printing) the outlines. Cut the silhouettes, shrink ’em and put them in stands and there you go!