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Details about Etching and Preparation

Laser Etchings/Engravings are a great way to personalize your Plexi-Cover. Whether it's a simple text etch or a full custom etch, please review this section for a better understanding on how etchings turnout on various materials and how to setup your artwork for custom etchings.

This section is separated to into several sub sections. Feel free to jump around the sections that interest you the most.

How to setup custom etchings
Etching on Clear Acrylic
Etching on Opaque Acrylic (Black, White, Etc)
Etching on Transparent Colored Acrylic
Etching on Flourescent Colored Acrylic
Etching on Mirror Acrylic


How to setup custom etchings
First thing to consider when planning out your etching artwork and positioning, is that etchings on clear acrylic work best with a darker background. The etchings turnout white in color, so obviously having an etch over a white background isn't going to really show it off.

To begin, you must greyscale your artwork. Etchings only work in greyscale, not color. Next important thing to know is that anything black in your artwork will be etched. Just like printing a black and white photo, a white background will not be printed, whereas the shades of black will.

Interestingly, when you etch artwork as is (Greyscaled), it comes out looking like a negative. Observe the sample below:

(Chun Li artwork made by Stanely Lau)


So what you need to do is invert your artwork image and the results will be a lot better. Observe the sample below:



Only detailed artwork needs to be inverted. If you have a simple logo or text in black, just leave it as is and it will etch fine. Here are further samples on how to setup your artwork for custom etching:

Lets say you want to use this Ryu artwork for your etch.



First thing to do is greyscale the image.



Next, invert/negative the image so it'll turn out something like this.



After you've inverted, notice the image now has a black background. The laser cutter etches black areas, so in this case the background would end up being etched. To avoid this you have to turn the black background into white so it ends up like so:



If you're not sure how this is done, please look for advice from a graphics developers or google "magic wand" for some techniques.

Now that the image is prepared, download an artwork template from my "Photoshop Templates for Artwork and Etching " section that matches your cover and insert your artwork. I've added some Text in black to show a simple text etching.



Keep all the existing layers as is and give the PSD back to me with your added artwork layer. DO NOT merge any of the layers.

Once you're done, ZIP or RAR your PSD and submit your file here:  Submit Art

Once the order is done, here is an example of how the above settings will turn out on a custom cover.


An important note: The color of the etchings will vary depending on the material being etched on. Please continue through this section to see how etchings affect the various colors/materials I have to offer.


Etching on Clear Acrylic
The most common covers are the clear acrylic covers for you to apply with artwork. The etchings on clear acrylic defaults to being etched on the bottom side so that top remains smooth. Etchings on clear acrylic will turn out white in coloring as observed in these sample photos:

   
   



Etching on Opaque Acrylic (Black, White, Etc)
Etchings done on opaque colored acrylic is done on the top, rather than the underside like clear acylic, obviously for the fact that it's not transparent. Because of this, the etch can be felt on top of the acrylic, but it is not a deep etch and will not hinder hand movement on top of the panel.

Preparing your custom artwork for etchings on opaque acrylic is exactly the same as the instructions in the How to setup custom etchings section above. Some people get the impression that etching on black acrylic, the artwork should have a black background and white for the foreground for the pattern. This is not the case. Etching on black acrylic still requires that you keep the background white and the foreground black for your pattern/artwork. Remember the rule, anything in black gets etched.

However, in the example of etching on black acrylic, the details may not be as prominent. It is better to find an image that has less levels of detail. A black and white logo should work nicely, whereas an etch of a complex photo/artwork may not catch the finer details. Etching on black acrylic will produce an image in sort of a silverish color. Here are some samples of etching on top of black acrylic:







Etchings on white acrylic is the same principle, but the results are very subtle because the etch is really just a slight shade of difference. The etchings are more visible in good lighting, but please keep in mind they give a very subtle effect. Please observe the sample images:








Etching on Transparent Colored Acrylic
While the concept of etching on transparent colored acrylic, and the artwork submission for the etching, remains the same as etching on clear acrylic, there is an added option. The default etching will be made on the bottom, like the clear acrylic. When the etching is done on the bottom of transparent acrylics, the result of the etch shows up as a different shade of the acrylic color. For example, on light transparent blue you will see the etching as a lighter blue. You can check out the sample images and captions below for a better understanding. However, it can be requested that etching be done on the Top so the etching comes up more white, but still retain most of the coloring.

This sample is the etch on top of the transparent colored Light Blue acrylic. The etching shows up a bit more white, but still retains the general color of the acrylic.


Now we flip that etch piece over this is the effect of the bottom etching. You can see the etch shows up more blue. This effect is even better accentuated when light hits the area, or LEDs shine around the edges. But please keep in mind with darker colors such as the "Transparent Red" and "Transparent Dark Blue", bottom etches my not show up as clear without good lighting.


Etchings will default to Bottom:
At this point, the etchings default to the bottom for transparent and fluorescent acrylics. You can request that etches be made on the top instead. You can do this by writing instructions in the "Special Production Notes and/or SRK Handle (Optional)" in the cart section. Just tell me you want the etchings to be done on the top. Right now, only one or the other can be done, so if you want etchings to be made on the top then all your etchings will be made that way. A Dual Layer etching option will be made available in the future where you can choose certain etchings to be on the bottom, and another on the top for a new effect. But at this point, only one or the other is available.


Etching on Fluorescent Colored Acrylic
The great thing about Flourescent acrylic are the way light refracts within it. Light passes through the edges of the acrylic really bring out edges and etchings. It creates a natural glow that really catches attention.

When etching on flourescent acrylic, the etch takes on the color of the material and really brings it out. Etching on top does make the etching a little more white, but still retains the majority of the color glowing effect with light refraction. Etching on the bottom still gives the best result. The effect is brougth out even more if you want to add LED's to your housing. Observe the images:



Etchings will default to Bottom:
At this point, the etchings default to the bottom for transparent and fluorescent acrylics. You can request that etches be made on the top instead. You can do this by writing instructions in the "Special Production Notes and/or SRK Handle (Optional)" in the cart section. Just tell me you want the etchings to be done on the top. Right now, only one or the other can be done, so if you want etchings to be made on the top then all your etchings will be made that way. A Dual Layer etching option will be made available in the future where you can choose certain etchings to be on the bottom, and another on the top for a new effect. But at this point, only one or the other is available.


Etching on Mirror Acrylic
Mirror acrylic is a whole new ball game when it comes to etching. It is a great material for display and effect, but it requires a bit more fore thought for etching. The mirror's layer is on the bottom of the acrylic. It's a thin reflective layer. The etching is done from the back where the mirror layer is etched away. The thing is, once that layer is etched away, that etched area becomes translucent. Therefore, you will have to decide what you're planning to have behind the mirror acrylic, whether it be some sort of artwork or solid color.

Also, the etch doesn't work well with detailed images. It's better to etch an outline of the image. Detailed images require different shades to really bring out the image. But when a mirror layer is etched off, there's really no different shades that come from it. So please make sure you are aware of this if you want to etch on mirror acrylic. Observe the pictures for better details.

Using a simple pattern for etching, here is just to show the back of the mirror acrylic where the reflective layer is etched away. You can see why that area becomes translucent.


Here is that same etch, flipped around to show the mirror side. You can see how the black background is seen through the etched area.


Here is the same etch on white background, showing how the white is seen through.


Lastly, here is an example with blue background. Hopefully this gives you an idea how you would like to prepare ahead for mirror etching.


 
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