Adding a Glossy Shine to Your Artwork With Translucent Colorfill

Posted by Patrick Moyer | Monday July 8th, 2019 | Topic: Design

Knowing the Difference Between Solid and Translucent Colors

When it comes to picking the best colors for your challenge coins, we offer more than just the spectrum of Pantone colors. We also have translucent colors. The difference between the two is just as it sounds. Solid enamel doesn’t allow light to pass through, whereas translucent colorfill allows just a little bit of a coin’s metal plating to shine through from underneath.

Both solid colors and translucent colors are used to create beautiful artwork, but they each achieve a different effect. To get an idea of how they compare, take a look at the front and back of this coin we helped create for the Carl R. Darnall Medical Center in Fort Hood, Texas.


The front side of the coin is filled with a solid red enamel paint, helping the details of the medical center stand out in gold plating. The back side of the coin is instead filled with a translucent blue colorfill which allows for a small amount of the gold plating to shine through. Translucent colors add a glossy finish to any design and are the perfect way to brighten up artwork.

We decided to list a few of our favorite coins with translucent colorfills and show how you can accentuate your design using the same techniques. Take a look at let us know what you think!

#8 — The Halls of Valhalla Challenge Coin

SignatureCoins-Army-2nd Battalion-10th Special Forces-Translucent-Challengecoin

Coins inspired by ancient Norse mythology are popular among military units across the world. Just as ancient warriors fought bravely to reach the Halls of Valhalla, so do today's soldiers fight to achieve honor and glory. Connections to legendary warriors like Thor and Odin serve as inspiration and a source of courage. The artwork of this coin features Thor’s powerful hammer, Mjolnir, set against a translucent green backdrop, giving the coin a shimmering effect while keeping an ancient looking design.

#7 — Custom Turtle Coin


All of the colors for this turtle-shaped coin, from the blue fins to the small teal pearls along the shell, are translucent. The glossy shimmer almost makes it look like the turtle is actually underwater, but the truth is it is perfectly dry. Another fun aspect about this coin is that the rear fins are actually functional bottle openers.

#6 — 501st Unicorn Coin


What really makes this coin special is the way the translucent colorfills work with the plating to make a glitter effect for the unicorn design. While the coin is plated in high polish silver, the recessed portions of the coin face are sandblasted. This is a great way to add texture to the coin face, and since a small amount of the plating is able to shine through each translucent colorfill, the pink, gold, blue, green and black sections of the coin are given a sparkling effect.

#5 — U.S. Consulate General’s Tiger Coin

SignatureCoins-U.S. Consulate Generals Tiger-Translucent-Challengecoin

This is another example of how recessed sandblasting combined with translucent colorfill can add a unique glitter effect that accentuates a design. The prowling tiger stands out beautifully against the shimmering translucent blue backdrop. Even though the coin is plated with high polish gold, the artwork has a much cooler tone than you would expect. It looks almost like the whole scene takes place under a night sky. While the back of the coin doesn’t have any translucent colors, the sandblasted gold metal creates a striking effect.

#4 — Cybersecurity Challenge Coin


This cybersecurity coin was created for a special conference in June of 2018. The client wanted to offer something that would stand out among the crowd, and we were happy to help. The translucent blue has an almost watery effect against the high polish silver plating, giving the coin a glossy shine. The effect helps the intricate lines in the artwork stand out through contrast while keeping the brightness of the overall design. Combine all of this with a hand cut oblique line edge and you end up with a truly special coin.

#3 — NMTSC Eagle Wings Coin 

SignatureCoins-NMTSC Eagle Wings-Translucent-Challengecoin

Ever since production finished and we received our first sample, this coin from the Naval Medical Training Support Center has been one of our favorites around the office. Our art team spent most of their time perfecting the wings. Before this design was ready, they crafted several other versions of the wings that angled in different ways and were filled with different colors. The translucent blue feathers shimmer against the sandblasted gold plating underneath as do the translucent black cobras at the bottom of the design.

#2 — Dragon Scale Coins


The dragon scale design on the back of this coin is a popular texture added to different types of designs. The effect of the translucent black over high polish gold, and translucent blue over antique silver, is almost reptilian. The shimmer of these translucent colorfill areas gives these designs a lifelike quality. It’s almost as if there are real dragon scales embedded into the metal. 

#1 — Fair Winds and Following Seas Challenge Coin


We have been honored to help soldiers, veterans and military families from all over craft unique and meaningful designs, and this coin is one of our favorites. It was commissioned to celebrate the life and honor the memory of Captain Carl J. Stokes, Jr. of the United States Navy. The sunset on the back of the coin was inspired by an image he liked. Eight different translucent colors are used to capture a beautiful scene over the ocean. The water, clouds, sun and shadows all have unique hews that blend together to create the perfect effect. It just goes to show that there are no limits when adding colors to create the right design.

Getting Started on Your Own Designs

The way a translucent colorfill will look depends on the color of the plating it is added to, and the texture of that plating. The metal color grid pictured below displays some of the more popular translucent colors we offer against both smooth metal and sandblasted metal, and we think it is a great place to get started when picking colors. As you can see, the top half of every rectangle has a certain shine against the sandblasted metal compared to the same color against smooth metal.

SignatureCoins-Translucent Colorfill-Plate

There are ways to make beautiful bare metal designs, designs with solid colorfills and with all kinds of different options apart from translucent colors. No matter what you are looking for, you can be sure our team has what it takes to turn your vision into a reality. But if you see something here that you like, make sure to let us know! Our art team will be happy to include translucent colors on your coin to make artwork with a glossy shine. 

Patrick Moyer Blog Author

Patrick Moyer

Patrick Moyer studied communications, professional and persuasive writing and marketing at the University of Central Florida. He is a full-time copywriter for Signature Promotional Group and spends all of his free time working on his next novel. Books, movies and late night brainstorming sessions around the kitchen table are his favorite pastimes, and his love of stories has him searching for the message hidden behind every custom design that comes through the office. If you think your Signature order deserves to be featured in a blog, give us a call or contact us explaining why at https://signaturecoins.com/contact