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HOW TO CREATE CUSTOM ACRYLIC PINS USING PAINT TOOL SAI

HOW TO CREATE CUSTOM ACRYLIC PINS USING PAINT TOOL SAI

Posted in Tutorials by on Jun 12th, 2018

This tutorial contains everything you need to know about creating your own custom acrylic pin designs using Paint Tool SAI.

Important - Colour Management

Please note that Paint Tool SAI can only create documents in RGB colour whereas we only print in CMYK colour.

A quick search on the internet for 'the difference between RGB and CMYK' will provide you with a wealth of information on this subject, but we wanted to make you aware that the colours of your designs on screen will be different to the colours of your final printed products.

The image below shows the RGB palette on the left and the same palette converted to CMYK on the right. RGB colours appear vivid with bright blues and greens. CMYK in comparison appear flatter with slightly duller colours.

We convert all Paint Tool SAI images from RGB to CMYK before printing so do remember to bear these colour differences in mind. Always remember to order samples if you require any colour accuracy or if you are unsure or feel that you may be unhappy with these colour changes.

1. Download our templates

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

Download our Paint Tool SAI 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 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.

 

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 must sit inside, our logo and a brief description of the template size that you are using. DO NOT USE THIS LAYER.

'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 the printed charm 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 charms 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 charms. It is therefore ESSENTIAL that you create a border of AT LEAST 1mm between your artwork and your cutline. We can however print right up to the edge when printing onto wood as the print is more durable on this material.

Failure to leave a 1mm border on your acrylic charm 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
Place the hole template over your artwork to show us where you would like your hole to be placed. The dotted red line represents the recommended distance that your hole should be placed INSIDE of your design.

 

3. Importing your designs

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

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

 

We will print your design 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'll 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 hold down the 'CTRL' key and click on the thumbnail of your 'Artwork' layer. This will select all of the elements of your artwork layer.

You will now need to inset (shrink) your selection by 1 pixel to prevent any areas of white from showing around the edge of your charms once they've been printed. To do this invert your selection SELECTION > INVERT, your selection should look like the image below...

With your selection inverted, use the increment option SELECTION > INCREMENT once to inset your selection before inverting the selection again SELECTION > INVERT.

Click on the RGB slider in your colour & tool panel and create a Cyan colour (R:000 G:255 B:255)

Select the 'Bucket' tool and click inside your selection to fill the selection Cyan.

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

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

Please remember that we always recommend ordering samples before committing to large print runs, so that you can check that you are happy with the result. mistakes can not be rectified once your charms have been printed.

7. 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 1mm wider than your artwork (unless you are printing onto wood, in this case your artwork can run to the edge of the design). 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 cutline of your design to ensure the printed pin's 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.


To create your cut line, CTRL click on your Artwork Layer to select all of the elements of that layer. Select your 'Cut Area' layer and use the Increment function approximately 20 times to increase your selection by the required amount.

A slightly quicker way to do this is by using the shortcut ALT+S followed immediately by the 1 key. Do this 20 times.

 

Using the Bucket fill the selection 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 Eraser tool to round off any square edges of yoru cutline silhouette and the Brush tool to cover any areas missed by the 'fill'command.

8. 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 artwork as we will need to remove this before printing so that it's not visible on your finished pins.

9. Submission checklist

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

  • Your artwork fits inside of the blue borders.
  • Your white base layer is Cyan and located on the 'White' Layer (Step 4a.)
  • The fixing template has NOT been grouped or merged with the rest of your design.
  • Your border is AT LEAST 1mm (10px) thick.
  • All text has been converted to outlines.
  • Your charm template contains 1 charm only. Additional charms will be sent separately.

9. Saving your designs

To save your design follow these simple steps...

File > Save As > Photoshop (.psd).
Please make sure your file name includes your name, order number & charm number ie. - 'JoeBloggs_123456_pin1'

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

 

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