This tutorial contains everything you need to know about creating your own, promotional keyrings on clear acrylic. Including how to format your artwork for single sided and double sided printing.

1. Download our templates

To start submitting your custom printed, clear acrylic keyring designs you will need to download our design templates. Templates are available in various sizes ranging from 1" (25.4mm) up to 2" (50.8mm).

Click here to download our templates.

Once downloaded, open your required template size.
 


 

Each template comes with a working area where you will import or create your designs.

2. Understanding our Layers

When you open your chosen template you will notice that there are 8 layers in the Layers palette. (If you can't see the Layers palette simply hit F7 to make it appear).

Please don't rename exisiting layers or create additional layers as this will confuse our systems when processing your designs.

If you have used any effects / layer styles on any of your layers you MUST flatten them before saving. To do this simply right click on the applicable layer and select 'Rasterize Layer Style' from the menu.


'OFFICE USE ONLY' Layer

This layer contains our logo and a brief description of the template size that you are using. This layer is locked and should not be used.

The 'OFFICE USE ONLY' layer is locked. All artwork should be placed in the 'ARTWORK A' and 'ARTWORK B' Layers...

'ARTWORK A' Layer
Single Sided Printing - If you are creating single sided clear acrylic keyrings then you should place your artwork on this layer.

We print your designs onto the 'back' of the clear acrylic and then add a layer of white ink followed by a layer of varnish.

ALL ARTWORK ON THIS LAYER SHOULD BE FLIPPED HORIZONTALLY SO THAT IT IS A MIRROR IMAGE OF ITSELF.


When you turn the printed keyring over, your design will be the correct way around and visible via the 'front' of the acrylic, giving your charm a super crisp look, with the added depth of our 3mm clear acrylic.

Double / B-Side Printing - When creating double sided promotional keyrings, the 'Artwork A' layer will form the front of your design as detailed above. Please follow the above instructions to create side A of your double sided keyring and then the following instructions to create side B (the back of your keyring)...

'ARTWORK B' Layer
This is where you'll place the artwork for the back of your keyring. We'll print this directly onto the top of your 'ARTWORK A' layer and then add a layer of varnish for added protection.

DO NOT FLIP/MIRROR THE ARTWORK ON THIS LAYER.


THE ARTWORK ON THIS LAYER SHOULD SIT ON TOP AND LINE UP PERFECTLY WITH THE ARTWORK ON YOUR 'ARTWORK A' LAYER SO THAT IT FULLY MASKS ARTWORK A.

'White' Layer
Adding a base layer of white to your designs will make your colours crisper and more vivid. Use this layer to tell us exactly where you would like this layer to go.

'Gloss Varnish' Layer
If you would like your keyrings to have a gloss finish as opposed to a matte finish, you can use this layer to show us exactly where you would like the your areas of gloss to be placed.

Gloss varnish will be placed on side B of your double sided clear keyrings or the back of your single sided keyrings.

'CUT AREA' Layer
Use this layer to show us where you want your design to be cut. We'll use this information to create a path which will then be used to create a cut line for our laser cutters.

Please note that we do not print right up to the edge with this particular method of charm manufacturing. It is therefore ESSENTIAL that you create a border of AT LEAST 1mm between your artwork and your cutline. Failure to do so can result in your printed design lifting along the edge of the acrylic, as a result of the heat generated by the laser. See step 6a for more info.

'Loop' Layer
Drag and drop our loop template from this layer onto your artwork to show us where you would like your loop to be placed.
 


 

The light blue, outer circle represents the loop size and the inner, dark blue circle represents the hole within the loop.

If you would like your loop to be the same colour as your border then please make sure that your border colour extends to the light blue outer circle of the loop template. (see 'Adding a Loop' in this tutorial for more details).

'Hole' Layer
Drag and drop the loop template from this layer onto your artwork to show us where you would like your hole to be placed.
 


 

The dotted line represents the recommended distance that your hole should be placed INSIDE of your design.

3. Importing your design

Select the 'Artwork A' or 'Artwork B' layer in your layers palette and either draw your design directly into this layer or, simply copy (CTRL+C) and paste (CTRL+V) previously saved artwork.

We're using this 'Outlaw Whiskey' keyring design to show you how it's done!

'Artwork A' - Create or paste the artwork that you would like to appear on the 'front' of your keyring here. Once you are happy with it FLIP IT HORIZONTALLY so that it is a mirror image of itself.


 

We will print this onto the 'back' of the clear acrylic before adding a layer of white. Your design will then be visible, the correct way around, via the 'front' of the acrylic.

'Artwork B' - This is where you will create or paste the artwork that you would like to appear on the 'back' of your charms for our 'B-Side' printing option. DO NOT FLIP THIS LAYER!

We print your B-Side ('back') design directly on top of the A-Side ('front') design to create an awesome looking double sided keyring.

4. Check your alignment

If you're producing double sided keyrings it's important that your A-Side and B-Side artwork lines up correctly.

A simple way of checking this is to select your 'ARTWORK B' layer and lower the opacity to 50%

Now view your artwork and check that both A & B are the same size and nicely aligned...

5a. Adding a layer of white

To guarantee bright and crisp colours for your artwork, you will need to add a white base layer to your designs.

This white layer will sit behind your artwork and will ensure that the colours of your keyrings are consistent, regardless of what colour acrylic you choose.

Please note that we ask that you create this white layer for ALL of your acrylic charm designs, even white acrylic.

An additional benefit of creating your own white base layer is that you can let us know EXACTLY where you would like us to print your white areas. This allows customers to add additional features to their designs, such as transparencies on our clear acrylics, as well as reducing any areas of white creeping around the edges of your artwork.

To create your white base layer simply copy your artwork from the 'Artwork' layer and paste it into the 'White' layer using the 'Paste in Place' command SHIFT + CTRL + V.


The 'Paste in place' command will paste your artwork in the exact same position as the original version.

With the 'White' layer selected, click on the 'Lock Transparent Pixels' icon.
 


 

Now go to EDIT > FILL (Shift & F5) and select the 'Color' option from the first drop down menu.

Choose 100% Cyan as your colour (C:100 M:0 Y:0 K:0)

Click 'OK' and 'OK' again. You should now have a Cyan silhouette of your original artwork, placed on the 'White' layer.
 


 

5b. Reducing white halos

Some of our customers like to inset (shrink) their white layer by 1 or 2 pixels so that there is no white ink visible around the edge of their artwork.

To do this, simply click on the thumbnail of your 'Artwork' layer, then go to SELECT > MODIFY > CONTRACT and enter your desired amount in the box. Then, select your 'White' layer and go to EDIT > FILL. Fill this selection 100% Cyan.

Be aware that contracting your selection in this manner can have an effect on the pixels selected. Always zoom in on an area with fine details, such as strands of hair or small point text and check that you are happy with the results.
 

5c. Transparencies

The 'White' layer can also be used to create areas where you don't want a white base. This effect works especially well on our clear acrylics where this feature can be used to create transparencies (areas with no ink or areas with coloured ink with no white ink behind it).

To create a transparent area, simply delete any areas of your white base layer that you don't want, using the eraser, or any of the other tools at your disposal in Photoshop, to achieve your desired effect.

6a. Add a border / cut line - Important!

You can now decide on the thickness of your border, which will be used as a cut line. It is ESSENTIAL that you make this border AT LEAST 1mm wider (approx 10 pixels) than your artwork. Failure to do so can cause your printed design to lift along the cut edge as a result of the heat generated by the laser. A 1mm border will prevent this from happening.

It is essential that you have a border between your artwork and the cut line of your charm to ensure the printed keyrings durability. Please use the 'Cut Line' layer to show us EXACTLY how wide you would like this border as we WILL use this information to create your cut line and cut out your designs. Failure to create a 1mm border between your artwork and cut line will result in your printed design lifting along the cut edge due to the heat of the laser and is done so entirely at your own risk.

Remember that our lasers will remove approximately 0.15mm of acrylic from all sides of your charms when cutting. This is called kerf (the thickness of the laser beam).

To do this go to SELECT > MODIFY > EXPAND and enter your chosen width. You will see that your selected area has grown by the amount of pixels you chose.
 


 

Use the 'Fill' command (SHIFT+F5) or EDIT > FILL and fill this area black. This colour will not be printed, it's simply for our designers to use as a guide when creating your cut line.
 


 

TIP - Use the paintbrush to cover any areas missed by the 'fill' command!

6b. Add a hole

If you would like a hole in your design you can let us know exactly where you would like this by dragging and dropping the hole template from the 'Hole' Layer, into position on your design.
 


 

The solid inner circle represents the hole and the dotted outer circle represents the recommended distance that your hole should be placed INSIDE of your design.

Please don't merge the hole template with your design as we will need to remove this before printing so that it's not visible on your finished product.

6c. Add a loop

If you would like a loop instead of a hole, you can let us know exactly where you would like this by dragging and dropping the loop template from the 'Loop' Layer, into position on your design.
 


 

The light blue, outer circle represents the loop size and the inner, dark blue circle represents the hole within the loop.

Please don't merge the loop template with your design as we will need to remove this before printing so that it's not visible on your finished product.

7. Submission checklist

Congratulations, you've finished creating your custom, clear acrylic keyring designs! All you have to do now is check the following before submission...

- The artwork on your 'ARTWORK A' layer has been flipped / mirrored
- The artwork on your 'ARTWORK B' layer has NOT been flipped & lines up perfectly with your 'ARTWORK A' layer
- You have created a 100% Cyan silhouette on the 'White' layer to show us where you would like white ink
- Any transparent areas, where the colour of the acrylic will show through, contains NO colour data at all.
- The hole and loop layers have NOT been grouped or merged with the rest of your design.
- Your acrylic cutting border is AT LEAST 1mm thick.
- All text has been converted to outlines.
- Your keyring template contains 1 design only. Additional designs will be sent separately.

8. Saving your work

To save your design follow these simple steps...

File > Save As > Photoshop (*PSD;*PDD). Please make sure your file name includes your name, order number & keyring design number ie. - ‘JoeBloggs_123456_clear_keyring1.psd’
 


 

Email your designs along with your order number to info [at] zapcreatives.com