Currently, one of the biggest trends in the craftier tabletop circles is custom dice making. The hobby (and profession) emerged with the rise of resin crafters, who use special molds, UV resin, and copious amounts of pigment and glitter, to make their own sets of dice.
These dice are gorgeous, of course, and they achieve a number of unique and beautiful effects. But if you’re looking for a custom set to commemorate your favorite character, they can be a little unattainable.
Resin art is time consuming, requires patience and expertise to manage correctly, and calls for a lot of supplies that don’t come cheap. Learning to make them yourself is, although fun, rather difficult. And paying for a custom set is (understandably) pretty pricey. It’s also hard to find premade resin dice that aren’t the Dungeons and Dragons standard set, with 7 pieces of varying shapes.
If you’re a dice collector, or have enough money to shell out for one of these gorgeous sets, I honestly can’t recommend it enough. But if you’re looking for something cheaper, quicker, and more manageable, painting custom wooden d6s is just as fun.
Plus, it’s simple and easy enough for kids, or that one wholly unartistic party member. I find that it makes for an excellent between-sessions group craft!
Custom Painted d6 Tutorial
What you’ll need:
- Wooden Cubes
- Acrylic Paint
- Area Cleanliness Protectors (newspaper, paper towels, etc)
- Spray Primer (optional)
- Spray Sealant or Clear Nail Polish (optional)
Gather Materials and Prepare Your Workspace
The first thing to do is gather your materials. You can get wooden cubes/blocks in bulk online, or at your local craft store, along with acrylic paint in any colors that you desire. You’ll need thinner paintbrushes, for which I’d recommend using nail art brushes, since they’re cheap. Primers and Sealants you can get at a general store like Walmart or Target, next to the spray paint.
Larger wooden cubes will be easier to paint and number, but require more time and material. The standard die size is usually between 16-19mm.
The next thing is to set up a clean working space. Trust me, this can get a little messy if you’re not careful.
Lay down paper towels, newspaper, pages from your 4th Edition Players Handbook, or a disposable tablecloth. Then get a cup you don’t care about, and fill it with water. Grab an old cloth or napkin to clean excess paint off your brushes with, and arrange it all to your liking.
Prepare Your Wood Cubes
Clean off your wooden cubes. There may be some sawdust, or regular dust, lingering on your soon-to-be-dice. No need to wash them, as they’ll take forever to dry, just make sure that you rub them clean pretty well. You can attempt to bless, charm, or intimidate them into rolling well whilst you do so, by murmuring whatever spells, threats, or prayers you prefer.
If you have a can of spray primer laying around the house (such as is used for priming minis to be painted) you can optionally give your dice a thin, even layer. Make sure its wooden or all-purpose primer beforehand, though. It’ll make the paint apply a little easier, and last a little longer, but it isn’t absolutely necessary. The paint isn’t going to peel off if you don’t have any.
Paint Your Dice!
This is the fun part. Simply take your brushes, and start painting as you please!
You might want to do a unique design on each side, create a gradient effect, or go for a character-appropriate all-over design. It doesn’t matter if it looks perfect (although I’m sure that it will), the point is to have fun with the process!
I’d recommend starting with the sides of the dice, leaving the top and bottom blank for the time being. That way you can hold those ends with your fingers while you paint the rest of the die, and can set it down to dry safely. Let that die completely dry while you paint some other dice or take a snack break, and come back to paint the ends afterward.
Number Your Dice
If your design didn’t already incorporate numbering, you’ll need to add the numbers to your dice so that they're fully functional. You can do this with standard dots, Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.), Roman numerals (I, II, III, etc.), or whatever numbering system you can read and that stays consistent. You can find design inspiration for various numeral fonts here.
Remember, the numbers on each side should add up to 7. This means that 1/6, 2/5, and 3/4 are each on opposite sides from each other.
Alternatively, if you want dice that aren’t numbered (like Fate or story dice), you can easily look up a game’s dice layout or come up with your own.
Follow the same process of painting around the die, then coming back to the top and bottom for this process.
Finalize Your Dice
Your dice are pretty much done!
To make sure that your dice don’t flake, chip, or rub away, you’ll probably want to seal them in some capacity. Spray sealant is perfect for this (again, if you or a friend paint gaming minis, they’ll probably have a can somewhere), but a bottle of cheap, clear nail polish also works in a pinch. Go for a glossy option if you want your dice to be extra shiny.
Let them dry, and your custom character dice are complete!
These dice probably won’t be legal for playing Adventurer’s League, or competitive play, but they work just fine for home games. Plus, you’ll always know exactly which set is yours.
If you follow this tutorial, please let us know, and show us your masterpieces!