What Is the Difference Between To 2D and 3D Challenge Coin?

Bullet Points

USMC Force Reconnaissance Military Coin

Challenge coins are great ways to show appreciation for the creativity, hard work, and dedication it took to reach personal or group goals, and there are many ways to make them unique to the challenge or accomplishment being recognized. One way is to make coins look either “2D” or “3D,” which is done by changing the level of finish on the coin’s surface. What’s the difference between 2D Coins and 3D Coins, and which one is best for you?

What Is the Difference?

What is a 2D challenge coin

The difference is that 2D challenge coins have both raised and recessed areas that are made of metal (struck and non-strict).

What is a 3D challenge coin

Traditional 2D challenge coins have a lot of space for detailed artwork, but a 3D challenge coin can have details that look real. 3D coins can have any number of levels, so we can round off the edges and make smooth transitions between the raised and lowered parts.

Both two-dimensional and three-dimensional coins have physical features that change how they look, feel, and weigh. Neither choice is better than the other, and both can be used to make different designs. In the end, figuring out which one is best for you is a big part of the design process.


2-Dimensional Design

2D coins have one raised level on top of a flat base. This creates edges and depressions that make flat images.

These metal “edges” can come in a variety of standard colors to add contrast. They also add color to artwork, which is one of the best things about using 2D designs.

Because the edges and lines are solid, it is much easier to add precise color to the recesses. This makes them a great choice for logos, flags, or color contrasts that are well-known.

What are the advantages of 2D challenge coins?

  1. Rich color choices and contrast are two of the best things about
  2. Simple designs can make a big difference.
  3. Best for adding the most important changes
  4. Even on smaller coins, the design features are easy to spot.
  5. They look great, and you can choose high-polished plating so that the shine doesn’t get lost in the texture.

When 2D is the best choice

  1. For simple drawings, cartoon characters, or logos
  2. When you need strong color differences for flags, ranks, etc.
  3. When designs have a lot of text because the text is naturally flat.
  4. If you are on a tight budget, look for smaller, thinner coins.
  5. When production needs to be done quickly

3 Dimensional Designs

Shellback 3D Challenge Coin

There are an infinite number of levels of raised and recessed detail on 3D coins, which lets them have sculpted images and rounded edges that look more real.

One way to tell if a coin is made in 3D is that it probably starts with a photograph or a realistic image and has layered textures like statues, buildings, mascots, or emblems.

Even though 3D Coins can have color, adding it will take more planning and will have a less obvious effect. Both 2D and 3D coins can be different sizes, but many larger 3D coins are often more detailed because they have more room to do so.

What’s good about 3D coin design?

Unreal Military Shellbacks 3D Coin

  1. More realistic designs with more details
  2. can include layers and shapes that can’t be shown in 2D.
  3. Edges and surfaces are sized, shaped, and felt.
  4. Antiquing the surface, which is a popular finish that can make shadows and shades, works best with smooth curves and shapes.
  5. Can be cut to any size or shape.


When 3D is the best choice

  1. When a design is complicated, has a lot of texture, or has a lot of details, like a symbol or an icon for an organization.
  2. When art is based on photos or real things that have curves or need shading to make them look three-dimensional.
  3. With designs for buildings or cars that include textured parts.


When should you order 2D or 3D coins?

2d vs 3d challenge coin

Choosing between a 2D coin and a 3D coin isn’t as simple as saying that one type is better by nature. As with many options, it depends on the design you want and any other special features you might want on a coin.

As a general rule, the more realistic or detailed a design is, the better it will look in 3D. On the other hand, simpler designs with clear shapes or colorful details are better suited for a 2D coin.

However, the choice isn’t as simple as black or white. Many clients choose to get both 2D and 3D designs on a single coin, with 2D on one side and 3D on the other.

This lets you keep any important colors or text for organization and also use the extra detail and texture of a 3D coin.

Depending on your design, you could even split a coin into 2D and 3D parts to get the best of both worlds in a single design.

At All About Challenge Coins, we offer high-quality 2D and 3D challenge coins, and we love working with each client individually to make sure that each product is exactly how they want it.

No matter what kind of coin you want, we have the tools and knowledge to make sure that your custom challenge coins are the best they can be. Are you ready to start?

Just ask for a free quote and send us your designs so we can help you figure out whether 2D or 3D will work best for you.

Ready to start your custom coins?

Fill out our form with no obligation to start your custom project. As soon as we get your information, we start working for FREE on your design right away. Our customer service team will help you every step of the way to make sure that making your next custom product is as easy as possible.


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