HOW TO CREATE CUSTOM ACRYLIC PINS USING ADOBE ILLUSTRATOR

HOW TO CREATE CUSTOM ACRYLIC PINS USING ADOBE ILLUSTRATOR

Posted in Tutorials by on Jun 8th, 2018

This tutorial contains everything you need to know about creating your own custom acrylic pin designs using Adobe Illustrator.

1. Download our templates

To start submitting your pin designs you'll need to download our design templates. Templates are available in 6 different sizes ranging from 15mm to 40mm.

Download our Illustrator templates here and open your chosen size.



Each template comes with a working area where you will import or create your designs. Please make sure that your artwork and cutline silhouette fits INSIDE of the blue borders.

2. Understanding our layers

Opening the template, you will notice that there are 5 layers in your Layers palette. If you can't see the Layers palette, hit F7 to make it appear.



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

'Office Use Only' Layer

This layer contains the blue borders which your design and cutline silhouette MUST sit inside. This layer is locked and should not be used.

'Artwork' Layer
All pin artwork should be placed on this layer. We print your designs onto the 'back' of our 2mm clear acrylic and then add a layer of white ink.

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



When you turn you pin over, your design will be the correct way around and visible via the 'front' of the acrylic, giving your pin a super crisp look.

'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 of white to go.


Cut Area Layer
Use this layer to show us EXACTLY where you want your pin designs 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 on any of our acrylic pins. It is therefore ESSENTIAL that you create a border of AT LEAST 1mm between your artwork and your cut line.

Failure to leave a 1mm border on your pin designs can result in damage and lifting along the printed edge of your pins as a result of the heat generated by the laser. See step 5 for more info.


'Fixing Template' Layer
Drag and drop the fixing template from this layer onto your artwork to show us where you would like your pin fixing to be placed. Make sure the fixing completely fits inside of your design.

3. Importing your designs

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

'Artwork'

Create or paste the artwork for your pins on this layer. Once you are happy with your design FLIP IT 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.

4a. 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.

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 Front' command CTRL + F.

Use the 'Image Trace' command (if your design is a bitmap) or the 'Unite' function from the Pathfinder palette (if your design is a vector) to create a silhouette version of your 'Artwork' layer.



Give this silhouette a 100% Cyan fill with no stroke.

4b. Identifying unwanted areas of coloured & white ink

IMPORTANT - If you have imported your artwork from Photoshop or any other bitmap / raster based software, it's important to check your white layer for low opacity pixels. The following steps are taken from our Photoshop tutorial and can help eliminate any unwanted areas of white ink and gloss varnish around the edge of your charms... 

Using soft brushes in Photoshop can result in unwanted, low opacity pixels causing issues around the edges of your artwork.

These pixels can be invisible to the eye but get picked up by our printers, which print ALL pixels on your white and gloss layers, no matter how low their opacity, as 100% white or 100% gloss. This can cause unwanted areas of white ink and gloss varnish around the edges of your finished charms as well as printed areas that may have been overlooked.

A simple way to check your artwork (in Photoshop) for low opacity pixels is to click on your artwork layers, your white layer or your gloss layer, select the paint bucket tool and fill the background black.



The paint bucket will fill all areas of the background except where there are any low opacity pixels. These can then be easily identified and removed using the selection and eraser tools.

IMPORTANT - Please remember to undo the black paint bucket fill before submitting your designs.

5. Adding 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 10px wider 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 10px border will prevent this from happening.

It is essential that you have a border between your artwork and the cutline of your design to ensure the printed pins 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 cutline and cut out your pin. Failure to create a 1mm border between your artwork and cutline 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 designs when cutting. This is called kerf (thickness of the laser beam). To do this first select all of the elements of your 'artwork' layer, copy them (CTRL+C) and then use the 'Paste in Front' command (CTRL+F) to paste them onto your 'Cut Area' layer.



Make sure that all of the elements on the Cut Area' layer are selected and hit the 'Unite' button in the 'Pathfinder' window. this will merge all elements together to create one shape, which will be sued to create your cutline.

Give the merged shape a 0.01mm outline with the following colour values R:255 G:0 :B0 and NO fill.

Use the OBJECT > PATH > OFFSET PATH command to offset (increase) this shape by at least 1mm. Delete the original path so that there are no duplicates.

TIP - Hide the 'Artwork' layer and view the document as outlines (CTRL+Y) to view your cut line as an outline and check that it looks how you want it to look. Hit CTRL+Y to go back to your normal view.

6. Fixing Template

The fixing template is basically a 10mm circle which, when dropped over your design, will show us where you would like us to attach your metal pin, turning your artwork into a functional lapel pin.



Wherever you decide to position your pin, just make sure all of the 10mm circle sits INSIDE of your pin artwork so that it won't be visible from the front once your pin has been constructed.

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

7. Submission checklist

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

  • Your artwork and cut silhouette fits INSIDE of the blue borders.
  • Your white base layer is 100% Cyan and located on the 'White' Layer (Step 4a.)
  • You have checked for unwanted elements using the steps at 4b.
  • The fixing template has NOT been grouped or merged with the rest of your design.
  • Your border is AT LEAST 1mm thick
  • All text has been converted to outlines.
  • Your pin template contains 1 design only. Additional designs will be sent separately.

8. Saving your designs

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 & charm number ie. - JoeBloggs_123456_acrylicpin1.psd

Email your designs along with your order number to info@zapcreatives.com

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