We can custom design almost any shape to make your full-size or model hot air balloon ideas come to life.

We can provide a visualization of the 3D model prior to construction – so you can see what the balloon would look like prior to construction. Here are some 3D visualizations of a few of our completed design projects:

2021 – Other Builder’s Balloons Recently Completed

Here a some pictures of balloons recently completed by other builders using our our BARD32 and BARD85H designs:

For pictures of the balloons we have built ourselves, see the Bard Balloons Special Shape Hot Air Balloons page.

Design Primer

Flat patterns

Many builders use traditional flat patterns to build their hot air balloon. Unfortunately, this makes the balloons look boxy and flat, and because the loads are distributed unevenly along the surface of the fabric, it makes for balloons with many vertical wrinkles in the skin. One way to avoid this is to increase the number of vertical gores, but this requires more seams, more load tapes, and makes a balloon that is ultimately heavier. Here are some examples of flat rendered patterns:

Lofted Patterns

A better way, and the way most major balloon manufacturers use, it to use lofted gores, also know as “bulbous”. The degree of loft on each gore is variable, depending the on the look you want to achieve. The lofted gores concentrate the loads at the load tape seam and lets the gores “puff” out naturally, which reduces or eliminates vertical wrinkles on the finished balloon. Here are some examples:

We can custom design any kind of shape, whether you want a round ballon with slightly lofted patterning (our favorite), a racer shape or a highly bulbous balloon, in any size from tiny model balloon, up to 6+ passenger full-size balloons. It’s your choice. We use 3D patterning software to make exact patterns so that the end-result looks good in the air. We also have some neat tricks like flatening the loft of the patterns at the mouth and at the top to ensure proper tension at the mouth and perfect parachute fitment.


We can also design appendages and/or complex and/or assymetrical shapes:

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Your Logo on a Balloon

Simple or complex Artwork can be applied

We can design and apply your 2 dimensional flat logo or or complex artwork onto the curved surface of a balloon. We can make all the appropriate cuts and pieces so that the logo looks good from every angle.

Artwork laid out on flat patterns to be cut

We can also provide a 3D rendering of what your completed balloon would look like.

A note about our appendage special shape balloons

While at first glance, our 2 newest special shapes (MyDeerling and LoveBear) may look similar in construction to “appendage” special shape balloons (aka “add-ons”) from major manufacturers, in fact, the main body of the balloons are far from regular. Most manufacturers would use an existing lofted pattern with vertical gore lines obvious in the design, but all our shapes use perfectly smooth 3D computer shaping so that there is no extra loft making a perfectly flat surface all the way around (like a smooth cylinder). This is difficult to achieve – but the result is a balloon without wrinkles. Furthermore, the balloons have rounded tops (as opposed to a flat-top like a regular balloon) to resemble the outline of a head, as well as a slightly elongated vertical profile. Finally, on MyDeerling, the size of the appendages far exceed the size typically used on other “add-on” balloons, making this balloon stand 100 feet tall.

The Alien Rocket special shape also uses 3D computer shaping to achive a smooth outside surface.

Get in touch if you want something custom-created for you!