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How to create printed clear acrylic charms using PaintTool SAI

Posted on February 01 2019

How to create printed clear acrylic charms using PaintTool SAI

This tutorial contains everything you need to know about creating your own, printed light up acrylic LED standees using PaintTool SAI.

1. Download our templates

To start submitting your printed LED standee designs you’ll need to download our design template.

Download our PaintTool SAI templates >> here <<

Printed LED standee templates

Each template comes with a working area where you will import or create your design. 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 6 layers in your Layers palette. If you can't see the Layers palette, hit F7 to make it appear.

Custom Made LED Lamps SAI

IMPORTANT - Please don't rename existing 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 the blue borders which your design must sit inside, our logo and a brief description of the template size that you are using. DO NOT USE THIS LAYER. 

'Artwork A' Layer
Place the artwork that you would like to appear on the front of your LED standee on this layer. You will need to flip / mirror your artwork on this layer so that it appears the correct way around via the 'front' of your standee.

ALL ARTWORK ON THIS LAYER SHOULD BE FLIPPED / MIRRORED.


'Artwork B' Layer
Place the artwork that you would like to appear on the back of your LED standee on this layer.

DO NOT FLIP/MIRROR THE ARTWORK ON THIS LAYER.

'White' Layer
Use this layer to add a base layer of white ink to your designs. Printed areas with a white base layer underneath them will appear opaque. Printed areas with no white base layer will appear translucent. Unprinted areas with no white layer and no printed layer will appear transparent.

‘Cut Area’ Layer
Use this layer to show us where you would like your standee 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 our printed acrylic standees. 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 standee designs can result in damage and lifting along the printed edge of your designs as a result of the heat generated by the laser. See step 5a for more info.


'Standee Foot Template' Layer The 'Standee Foot' is the section of the standee that inserts into the LED base and makes your design light up. Position the standee foot at the bottom of your design to show us where you would like this placing.

Custom LED Lamp Base

The dotted line represents the distance that the foot inserts into the base. Any details below the dotted line will not be visible.

Please make sure the 'Standee Foot Template' fits neatly INSIDE the blue borders.

3. Importing your designs

Select the 'Artwork A' or 'Artwork B' layer and draw your designs directly onto these layers or, copy (CTRL+C) and paste (CTRL+V) previously saved artwork.

'Artwork A'
Create or paste the artwork that you would like to appear on the 'front' of your standee here.

Artwork on this layer is printed back to front so that it is viewed the correct way around when you view your standee from the 'front', so please remember to flip / mirror your artwork on this layer.

Printed LED standee Artwork A

Notice the back to front writing on this artwork. This will appear the correct way around when your standee has been printed.

'Artwork B'
This is where you will create or paste the artwork that you would like to appear on the BACK of your standee.

Do NOT flip your artwork on this layer.

Custom printed LED standee Side B

4. Check your Alignment

If you're producing double sided standees 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. Here is an example of how it should look...

Custom printed light up standees

5a. Adding a layer of white

Our coloured inks are naturally translucent and require a layer of white ink underneath them to make them appear bright and opaque.

Areas with coloured ink and a base layer of white ink will appear opaque. Areas with coloured ink and no base layer of white ink will appear translucent. Areas with no coloured ink and no white ink will appear transparent.

Having control of your own white ink layer allows you to create different transparency effects for your designs.

Custom Printed LED Lamp Transparent
 
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.

Custom made light up lamp selection

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. 

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

Once you've re-inverted your selection it should look reduced, like this...

Custom Made LED light lamp inset

Use this selection to create a cyan silhouette. 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.

Custom printed light up standees


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.

You may decide to only contract your selection by 1 pixel if you have a lot of fine or intricate areas in your designs.

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 results. Mistakes can not be rectified once your charms have been printed.

5b. Transparencies

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


To create a transparent area, simply delete any unwanted areas on your white layer using the eraser or any of the other tools at your disposal in Photoshop to achieve your desired effect.

Light up acrylic standee transparencies

Here's our finished LED lamp illuminated...

Custom printed LED Panda Lamp

6a. Creating your cut areas

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. 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. 

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.

Printed LED standee cut line

We will vector trace this silhouette in Illustrator to create your cut line.

Printed LED standee vector cut line

TIP - Use the Eraser tool to round off any square edges of your cut line silhouette and the Brush tool to cover any areas missed by the 'fill' command.

4b. Adding the standee foot

Position the standee foot template at the bottom of your design. The standee foot is the section of standee that will be inserted into the LED lamp base, making your engraved design light up.

Custom printed acrylic LED standee

The solid red line represents the size and shape of the foot and the dotted line represents the distance that the foot will be inserted into the LED lamp base.

Please make sure that no elements on your 'Artwork' and 'Cut Area' layers sit below this dotted line as this will prevent your standee from sitting correctly in the LED lamp base.

Please don't merge the foot template with your design.

Custom Printed LED Lamp

9. Submission checklist

Congratulations, you've finished creating your LED standee design. 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 100% Cyan and located on the 'White' Layer (Step 5a.)
  • You have checked for unwanted elements using the steps at 5b.
  • Your border is AT LEAST 1mm (10px) thick.
  • All text has been converted to outlines.
  • Your standee template contains 1 design only. Additional designs will be sent separately.
  • Remember to order a sample to check that your design is set up correctly.

10. Saving and submitting your designs

There are 3 different ways to save and submit your designs...

1. Submit your artwork immediately

If you have already created your designs, you can send them to us using the 'Upload Artwork' button, located on our product pages or by emailing them to ‘info@zapcreatives.com’.

Save all PaintTool SAI files in .Psd format. Here’s how…

Name each of your designs appropriately so that we know which designs you are referring to. Your file names should include 1. your name, 2. design number, 3. chosen product and 4. the date that you placed your order through our website. Here’s an example…

Select all of the designs that you would like to submit, right click and choose SEND TO > COMPRESSED (ZIPPED) FOLDER.



This will create a compressed folder containing all of your designs. Rename this folder so that it contains your name and the date that you placed your order on our website. Like this…

Please add all of your designs into one folder. So, if you purchased standees, stickers and pins, for example, just pop them all in the same, compressed folder and upload it using the 'Upload Artwork' button.

2. Submit your artwork later

If you have placed your order via our website but your designs aren’t quite ready yet, that’s ok. You have up to 2 weeks to submit your artwork to us, which allows you to take advantage of any special offers that we’re running. 

To submit your designs later, save them with 1. your name, 2. design number, 3. chosen product and 4. your order number. Then email them to ‘info@zapcreatives.com’. 

Save all PaintTool SAI files in .Psd format. Here’s how…

3. Placing a re-order

If you have placed an order in the past and would like to re-order those designs that’s great! We store your artwork for a maximum of 6 months, which saves you the hassle of having to resubmit your designs via email.

To place a re-order, simply place your order online, email us with your previous order number(s) and let us know that you are placing a re-order. 

You may only want to order 1 or 2 designs from your previous order(s). To do this simply quote your old file name(s) and let us know how you would like them producing and in what quantities. 

Here’s how to do it… 


Hi Zap!,

I’ve just placed an order #12345 on your website and would like to re-order the following designs from a previous order #12121. Please can I have…

10x [YOURNAME]-DESIGN1-LEDSTANDEE-12121
20x [YOURNAME]-DESIGN2-WALNUTKEYRING-12121
10x [YOURNAME]-DESIGN3-ACRYLICPIN-12121

Thanks!

[YOUR NAME] 


If you have any questions about this tutorial or any other aspects of our website and manufacturing processes, please do not hesitate to get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.

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