Hooperhart makes the most amazing dioramas from miniature shapes that I laser cut for her from 3mm laser ply. Cal decided that she wanted to incorporate engraving into some designs to explore new effects.
She wanted to know if it was possible to have cutting and engraving detail in the same artwork and if so, how it could be done.
One set of artwork, several possibilities
For laser cutting, I always use vector files like pdf, ai, dxf, eps and svg. They’re made up of lines rather than pixels as jpgs and pngs are. The laser follows the lines to cut shapes out as shown in the image below.
Vector files are so versatile. Not only can I use vector artwork for laser cutting, but I can also use it to vector (line) engrave or raster (fill in) engrave. The same artwork can do all these things as long as lines are colour coded for cut through, vector engraving or raster engraving so I know how to treat them.
Colour coded artwork
Cal decided that she wanted to use raster engraving rather than vector engraving. I suggested that she used identical lines to her usual cut out shape lines to surround the areas she wanted engraved, but colour them red instead of black. All the lines in her first set of test artwork were the same colour.
She wanted the engraving to come right to the edge of her shapes and asked if that would cause problems. When I cut and engrave on the same items, I do all the engraving before I cut the shapes out, so I told Cal that she could have the engraved shapes butted right up to the cut line, or even slightly overlapping them as you can see below.
Cal’s artwork above is similar to her second test artwork, using red triangles to denote engraved areas on tree trunks. Because the engraved areas were so small, they were relatively quick to engrave and didn’t add much to production time costs.
The picture of the diorama of Mr Fox at the top shows the effect that Cal was after. The engraved triangles on the tree trunks work really well to add mood to her moonlit forest.
Cal regularly uses painting and screen printing to add detail to her pieces, and raster engraving adds a different texture to her work.