A decorative image raises the value of an object by adding another material to the base item. Decorations have quality levels. The base value of a decoration is 10☼, multiplied by its material multiplier and quality multiplier that are separate from the item itself.
When an item is decorated, it is shown with double angle brackets - for example, a (no quality) decorated +steel battle axe+ becomes a «+steel battle axe+». Decorations are outside the double angle-brackets, the item quality remains within them with the item. So if you have *«+steel battle axe+»*, you have a +steel battle axe+ with *decorations* on it. These decorations do not affect combat multipliers. Decorating an imported item will remove it from that category (remove the (item) brackets) and reclassify it into the according category of your created wealth.
An object may be decorated with any number of materials, provided the materials are of different types. For example, you can decorate an object with turtle shell and cave lobster shell, but you can't decorate it with turtle shell twice. The exceptions are cloth and leather images; only one cloth or leather image can be sewn into each item, regardless of how many kinds of cloth and leather you have.
You cannot specify a specific object for a dwarf to decorate. Dwarves will use the closest object that has not already been decorated with the material they intend to decorate the next object with. The exception is when encrusting something with gems, where you are able to specify a category of goods to be decorated. Of course you can always seal in (forbidden doors) your artisan Rumpelstiltskin style, complete with workshop, the materials you want him to use and the objects you want decorated (dumping them inside the to-be-sealed-off area might work best) to ensure proper conduct.
For more information regarding the different types of decorations, see value.
- Bone, Shell
- Objects can be decorated with bone or shell at a craftsdwarf's workshop. Requires bone carving.
- Objects can be encrusted with cut gems (and cut glass) at a jeweler's workshop. You may specify whether to decorate furniture, finished goods or ammo. Requires gem setting.
- Metal studs
- Objects can be studded with various metals at a metalsmith's forge. Requires metalcrafting, but does not require fuel.
- Cloth images (both plant fiber and silk) can be sewn onto clothing items (including leather armor) and bags at a clothier's shop. Cloth images cannot be sewn onto bags or quivers that contain items. Requires clothesmaking.
- Leather images can be sewn onto clothing items in the same manner as cloth, with the same restrictions. Requires leatherworking and a leather works.
The type of decoration, be it spikes, bands, or pictures, may affect the value of the item as perceived by other civilizations - elf caravans, for example, ignore spikes when trading for your goods. Highly skilled decorators will often create a picture of something special, like an artifact, or even parts of your history, similar to engraving a natural wall or floor.
 Tips and tricks
If your fortress is above ground or you otherwise have inadequate natural rock walls to engrave, ropes or bags sewn with images can be a way of recording your fortress' history instead of stone detailing. When built as restraints (for decorated ropes), or as containers (for decorated bags), dwarves can gain happy thoughts by admiring them, so they can function as makeshift tapestries. If you build unowned bags, however, make sure to orbid them afterwards or your Dwarves will constantly perform the "Check Chest" job on them.