There are many different graphic software packages and many different laser brands. Each will have their own terminology and steps. This lesson will teach you the generic steps to making your own Custom Shape. You will need to translate these steps into your specific application.
With the purchase of an Etch Glow Kit, you have access to some popular shapes that have already been designed.
These Shape Files are just a few of the infinite number of shapes you can design and are good examples you can refer to.
The first step is to setup your design area for the size of the kit. This example is 6” wide x 8” tall.
To keep a comfortable margin of error with your design, stay in from the margins a tiny bit to be safe - noted by the red dashed line.
Every shape needs specific cutouts for each layer of material. Insert the Main Cutout object in your design area approximately where you want it.
The Key below tells you what the colors represent:
DO NOT resize this object. The Cutouts are properly sized for the lightboard, screws, and legs.
Insert your custom shape into the design area. In this case, we are making a children’s bear head:
Make sure this object and the Main Cutout are centered on the page.
Since the light from the light board needs to travel through acrylic to reach the shape, we need to connect the custom shape (Bear’s Head) to the Main Cutout object with some sort of shape.
We do this by adding another shape. This can be any shape. Here we have chosen a simple Trapezoid:
Send this shape (trapezoid) to the back and you can see the final shape and some pieces coming together.
- The combined shape will become the outline.
- The Brown area will become the design area for etching.
- The Blue area will become the front and back pieces of the base.
Make sure the Blue area stays within your overall piece margins. Also check the Red Holes (screw holes) to make sure they are not too close to the edges.
Make sure the Purple slots for the legs are lined up on the bottom of the base as seen here:
Once you have reached this point with your custom shape, make 2 duplicates of this entire design so that you will have 3 copies total. We will use the duplicates to make the individual pieces, ensuring everything will line up properly.
With one of the duplicates, select the Brown object and the Blue object and Merge them together so they make one solid piece:
Set the fill of the new shape to NO FILL and the line to RED. Make the line width appropriate for your laser to recognize it as a cutline.
Leave the Main Cutout alone at this point. We will come back to this later.
Use the second duplicate to make the Front and Back shapes from the blue area. To do this we select the Blue shape and then the Brown shape and Subtract the Brown from the Blue.
That will take the original Trapezoid and subtract any part of the bear head (brown) that was overlapping it.
Set the fill of the new shape to Black and the line to RED. Make the line width appropriate for your laser to recognize it as a cutline.
At this point you can also delete the Main Cutout object.
Copy the new Black shape on top of the outline you made with the first duplicate. Send the black shape to the back.
All the basic cutout design elements are complete on this one design. We now need to separate this design into its component pieces with the proper cutouts from the Main Cutout.
Make 3 duplicates.
With the first duplicate we’ll make the Main Clear Acrylic Slide:
- Delete the Black Shape
- Delete the Blue and Black objects from the Main Cutout
Take the remaining objects from the Master Cutout and subtract them from the other shape. This now becomes the template for the Clear Acrylic Panels.
You will use this when you design the etching portion of your Etch Glow.
With the second duplicate we’ll make the Backer - Cardstock:
- Delete the Black Shape
- Delete the Green and Black objects from the master cutout
Take the remaining objects from the Main Cutout and subtract them from the other shape.
With the third duplicate we’ll make the Front and Back pieces that are made from the Black Acrylic material in your kit.
- Delete the Red bear head shape outline
Copy this shape and slide to the top of the design area so that both copies are within the design space. The top will become the front and the bottom will become the back.
Both of these pieces will be made from a single piece of Black Acrylic in your kit.
On the top shape or Front, delete everything from the Main Cutout except the Red circles. The screw holes are the only thing needed for this layer.
On the bottom shape or Back, Delete the Green, Blue, and Purple objects from the Main Cutout.
Take the remaining objects from the Main Cutout and subtract them from the corresponding front and back shapes.
Set the fill to NO FILL.
This now becomes the cutout for the Front and Back piece that is made using the Black Acrylic material in your kit.
The Legs for the Etch Glow Light Displays are the same for all designs. The designs for these are included in all of our Shape Files and can be duplicated into your design files.
The Legs are made from the Black Acrylic material.
You now have all the components you need to make an Etch Glow Light Display with your own Custom Shape.
See our tutorial on Designing Your Own Etch Glow to learn about etching your designs.