Laser cut business cards for Ritchie Design

Laser cut business cards for Ritchie Design

Posted Posted in Designers, Paper

Courteney Ritchie is a recent graphic design graduate and has started her own business, Ritchie Design. She wanted to create her own bespoke business cards and had a clever idea for a two ply laser cut card that she wanted to have laser cut and engraved. She had an idea to play on her surname and make her business cards look like Rich Tea biscuits!

Business card vector artwork

Courteney sent me artwork for the layers to be cut from brown kraft card that she had delivered to me. All the artwork was in vector format as it’s perfect for laser cutting and vector engraving, a similar process to cutting but using much less power. This allows the surface to have a good contrast mark without being in any danger of cutting through the material.

The top layer of the business cards was to be completely laser cut and the base layer was to have all the detail vector engraved so that when the layers were put together, this detail would be visible, giving more depth to the cut detail. I made a prototype and the engraving underneath the cuts really did throw the layers into sharper relief.

Engraving thin kraft card

My biggest challenge in this project was engraving the bottom layer so that the laser didn’t cut through. This kraft card was thin, and engraving on my lightest settings did cut though in places, especially at the corners of the letters where the laser slows down to change direction.

I did some tests and decided that I could use a little less power for engraving so that I’d still get consistent but lighter mark with no danger of cut through.

Finishing the business cards

I sent all the card discs to Courteney and she glued the layers and added a printed backing with her contact details. Haven’t they turned out well? Here’s her blog about personal branding where she talks aboout them.


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laser cut shapes for stop frame animation

Laser cut shapes for stop frame animation

Posted Posted in Artists, Paper

Dan Brown is working as  Digital Storyteller for Scottish Book Trust hosted by Fife Cultural Trust for seven months.

Currently, he’s working  on a project to celebrate the ‘new town’ of Glenrothes being 70 years old next year. He’s working with locals to help them tell their stories and capture them digitally whilst increasing their digital literacy and raising confidence. He needed some laser cut shapes to use in stop frame animation workshops with children to create an identity for the project and asked if I could help.

How to choose materials

Dan didn’t know what was possible, so I asked him round to the workshop. He got quite excited when I showed him samples of offcuts of complicated shapes and the materials I could work with from card to fabric, plywood, Perspex and mdf.

He was keen to keep costs down, so I suggested chosing materials that would be light but reasonably robust as children would be attending the workshops. Lighter materials would be faster to cut,  keeping production time down.

Dan took some material samples away to think about what he wanted. He could prepare artwork and think about the quantities he’d need.

Making the props

A couple of weeks later, Dan sent me artwork for hippos!

Hippos have become a symbol of  Glenrothes. In 1972, local artist Stanley Bonnar created the first group of hippos with the help of post-graduate students. Now, hippo sculptures are dotted about the town. Six have been arranged drinking from a paddling pool in Riverside Park.

Dan wanted card cutouts of hippos, some with ‘Glenrothes 70 Years On’ cut out of their bodies. They were to be cut from leftover mount board and would create solid shadows which would be intriguing with the cut outs.

He also wanted 2mm clear perspex cut into rectangles and engraved with ‘Glenrothes 70 Years On’. Raster and vector engraving highlighted the letters or backgrounds for different effects. Dan had liked the samples of engraved perspex and how they threw interesting shadows.

Dan wanted to be present when I made his order so he could watch the process and film parts of the process.


The short animationabove was created in an hour buy two children at Digi Day in Kirkcaldy Galleries.

Dan’s project will culminate in January when the resulting films will be available online and screened at a celebration event in Rothes Halls.

You can find more information about the project here.


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whole paper cut

Intricate paper cutting

Posted Posted in Designers, Paper

One of the most delicate commissions I’ve had was for wedding invitations.

A mother of the groom approached me for help. As a graphic designer, she had created artwork for the invitations and she wanted them laser cut from paper. It was absolutely beautiful, showing an Edinburgh skyline and the happy couple’s beloved cats.

Intricate artwork

Judith’s artwork was perfectly produced for laser cutting. All the lines were hairlines and they all joined beautifully within the vector files.

But the design was highly detailed, and this presented a challenge. This meant that the paper cuts would be very fragile. Spires and flagpoles on the buildings were thin and unsupported, text was tall and thin, and the book titles at the bottom were so small at the scale required that it would be too thin to hold together.

Designing in strength

Usually, I suggest to customers that they make the thinnest parts of their design 2 – 3mm mm wide to make them robust. Weak points can make products very vulnerable to damage, even if they’re made of thicker and stronger materials. All it takes is for a ring to catch or a little pressure in the wrong place and a whole piece can be destroyed.

If this can happen with 9mm mdf or 10mm Perspex, you can imagine much more vulnerable a design in paper or card would be. In this case, the paper designs were to be glued onto cards which would give them support and some protection, but cards still get handled fairly roughly.


papercut zoom

Robust paper cuts

I suggested to Judith that we should remove some of the finest detail from the text at the bottom. When I cut a sample of the ‘Harry Potter’ area, the card struggled to hold together. We tweaked the spires and text to make them a little wider, and simplified the flower bowl, buns and teacups. If the design had been cut at a much larger size, none of this would have been a problem, but the invitations had to fit on A5 sized cards.

Testing a sample

When we had finished, I produced a sample and it came out well. Many areas of the design were 1-2mm wide, but it worked and Judith understood that gentle handling would be required. She was delighted and asked me to cut 50 pieces from the dark charcoal paper that she’s provided. Each piece took 6 minutes to laser cut because there was so much laser cut detail.


For more details about designing artwork for laser cutting, check out our artwork tips page and blogs on designing artwork for laser cutting and laying out artwork.


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