Dicecreator's Blog
Handmade dice, for the gamer and collector.

Open source dice making!

You would like to have some funny and cheap custom dice made?

Do setup fees step you back from giving a quick present to a friend?

Want to do some dice tests without having to ask for a loan to get them made?

Then, you are in the right place.


I know, this post will grant me some enemies in the dice making industry…but, know what?…I thought it will be fun to make some “open source” dice making.

Items you will need:

  1. Laser printer.
  2. INKJET photographic paper (glossy).

ATTENTION: Photo paper must be PAPER BACKED. Some high quality photo papers have a plastic back, wich will melt upon aplying heat, destroying the work.

  1. Blank dice.
  2. Clothes iron.
  3. 500 grit sandpaper.
  4. 1200 grit sandpaper.
  5. Flat surface (thick glass or mirror)
  6. Water.
  7. Scissors.
  8. Smooth cotton cloth (old plain shirts)

First, make your design. I have done quick tests with b/w, but a color laser printer might just work too. Print it on the INKJET photo paper, on the glossy side. REMEMBER: the designs will be flipped when “fusing” on the die, so you must flip them before printing!

Sand the die with the 500 grit paper. Make sure you use a FLAT surface to do this, otherwise, the process won’t work well.  After that, use the 1200 grit paper (adding water) to leave a nice finish on the die surface.

Cut the shape you want for a given face. Ideally, you would want to cut a square the size of the die itself, so you can align it correctly. Leave a little paper strip, you will need it later to remove the “protection media” for the toner (aka: paper).

Put the cutout over the die. Using the clothes iron at high setting, just press it over the paper. This might require some tests, to me, it was two 10 second presses, with 4 seconds in between to avoid plastic melting. Also, you don’t need to apply much pressure. The iron weight itself, plus your hand, will suffice.





Leave it to cool a little (20 seconds worked for me) then, using the little strip we left, just peel the paper off. UPDATE: Dip the die for five yo ten minutes in water. After that amount of time, check the die, if the paper is soft, then just peel it off and throw the die back to the water to soften the residues. Repeat the process as needed until you only have small residues. After that, pick a smooth cotton cloth (I use old shirts) and rub the die, really really hard. You will have remove the grey-ish surface finish on the toner. That is due to the glossy finish material, wich, in first place, allowed you to leave the fused tonner on the plastic.

After that, with the 1200 sandpaper, SLIGHTLY sand the die surface…that way you will remove the grey-ish layer, and reveal the black one.

Thist test one, was not prefectly sanded, and some of the tonner didn’t fuse to the plastic. Also, the plastic melt around the mould injection point. You can overcome that by sanding all the edges of the die prior to “printing”. You can also spray some lacker or similar, wich will protect the printout a little more. Of course, this is not a hardcore gaming die, and it will fade over time.

CORRECTION*: I marked a die with permanent marker, and did some rubbing tests…the fact is that the material itself sustained an incredible amount of rubbing before showing any fading. The permanent marker was long gone before the toner markings noticed the heavy rubbing. (took the die and with one hand, i pressed and rotated the die against my palm, as hard as I could…the black parts, just stayed there…) I think now that this might be a great discovery…

In my opinion it’s waaaaaaaay (*now, infinitely) better than drawing the die by hand, or in stickers, don’t you think?


Of course, If you don’t want to make them, I can do it for you!  Each die will cost 4€ with simple images. See some other tests here.


17 Responses to “Open source dice making!”

  1. WOW Thank you for show us this! Only one cuestion, when you say:
    “After that, use the 1200 grit paper (adding water) to leave a nice finish on the die surface.”
    using grit paper adding water?
    Can you explain this better?
    Thank you craftman!

    • Of course.

      1200 grit paper is so fine, that anything you sand with it, will clog it in no time. The water acts as a dust removal media, allowing the sandpaper to be in working condition for longer.

  2. Thanks for sharing! I have a set of random-random-generator-generators (D6 with the “standard dice” types instead of numbers) made with stickers, and I’ve been looking for a suitable replacement (as far as I can tell no one actually makes a set. This could be a great stop gap until I find someone who will make a professional set.

  3. Just wondering where you picked up your blank dice?

  4. I LOVE this technique! However, I have a question. Can you use this technique on any plastic, or does it have to be a specific kind. I have a thought about how I can use it on a different product, just not sure if the plastic is the right kind.

    Any advice would be helpful and appreciated.

  5. Today I’ll do a test on some transparent acrylic. I’m an electronics man, so, plastics chemistry it’s a little off my area of expertise. However, as far as I know (wikipedia rules!) toner is a form of plastic, probably it is melting to make a hard plastic (with the iron heat), wich in turn is melting the surounding plastic. Later today, I’ll be putting for sale some examples of the technique…the great thing is that as far as rubbing (nor scratching) they are fairly resistant.

  6. Hey there!

    I gave this a shot and failed miserably. The paper backing would melt, the front would leave a little mark on the paper, but not much.

    I used color laser prints, I suppose that could be the difference.

    Is there a particular type of glossy inkjet paper to use?

    I’m really stoked at the idea of creating my own dice, especially if I can do color designs.

    • The backing paper melted??????? could yo do some pics and send them to dicecreator(at)gmail.com ?

      I use 180grams High Glossy paper. Tried different brands, all work more or less the same. A less glossy paper might not peel off.
      On the other hand, paper does not melt, so you might have used some other high quality photographic paper wich might have a plastic backing for photo durability. Also, be careful with temperature. I use a heater element connected to a lab power supply, so I cannot tell wich temperature I’m using, as I do not have a thermometer for such use. However, On my tests with a clothes iron, the setting was “high”, just above “cotton”.

      On the color designs, I think there is a high probability of success. On my end, I happen to NOT have any friends who own a color laser printer ^^U So I cannot do any tests. (A color laser printer is quite expensive, and I cannot afford one right now)

  7. So, I did a little detective work.

    I had tried regular Inkjet on some old paper, and it worked except for being water-soluble (bummer!). Smeared off when moist. This was before I tried color laser.

    Then I got some new paper and tried laser, failed as described.

    However, as a test I tried inkjet on the new paper and it failed the same way– so I think paper is the key.

    I’ll try to get paper that matches the stuff I had lying around with a color laser and see how it goes.

    From the inkjet test, it looked very very promising. My biggest difficulty is proper alignment.

  8. […] to our RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!Some time ago, Abraham Neddermann aka the Dice Creator showed a method on his blog on how to create custom dice easily. You just need glossy photo paper, a laser printer and a flat […]

  9. Update:

    I picked up some new paper (the same grade you used) and had much better results. However, I don’t think my Iron is hot enough. It takes much longer to do that described, and even then the fusing isn’t that even (probably from me moving during the process). While interesting, I don’t know of I can make a proper image. And ideas for better heat source?

  10. Very interested in having a couple made for my other half. Unfortunately it would be almost impossible to produce them in secret at home (they are intended as part of a present). You say that you would be happy to make to order. How would I contact you to do this?

  11. Did you try using transfer paper, like the type used to make transfers that are ironed onto T-shirts? They make iron-on transfer papers for inkjet, laser and color laser printers. Also, have you tried clamping several dice together so you could process they in a single pass, instead of handling them one at a time.

  12. This is awesome. Now I just have to find a place that sells blank dice…

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