Monday, 26 August 2013

Etcher – Instrument Panel design – Part 1

As promised earlier … I am now going to start work on the instrument panel of the Electrolytic Etcher.

In this article, I’m going to go through the design, transfer and then the etch of the instrument panel for my Electrolytic Etcher. I’m going to be using the Electrolytic Etcher that I made in the previous articles about that project to do the etching in this project.

To start with, I measured the top of the project box. This comes in at 13cm x 6.6cm. I’ve taken off 2mm from each side to accommodate the rounded top of the box, so that the plate doesn’t extend over the rounding.

I made a basic design in the previous article so that I could work out where to drill the holes for the various parts of the device.

Now, I want to add some design elements to the panel.

I’ve used Photoshop to do my design work. I also make heavy use of guides in Photoshop.

I scanned the original, hand-drawn layout at 600 pixels per inch. This size means that I have a good resolution to work with. The down side is that it turns out to be a fairly large file (about 17Mb). Still, hard disk space and memory are cheap, right?


You’ll notice that I’ve also left a fairly generous border around the image (Document Size).


Once I had the scanned image, I cleaned up all the messy bit’s from erasing lines. Did some rotation of the image so that it was lined up properly in Photoshop, then I replaced the hand drawn bits with clean lines and layers.


I split the image into:

  • field;
  • border;
  • dial;
  • through holes;
  • labels (individually);
    • Terminals;
    • Power LED;
    • Switch;
    • Numerals;
    • Panel Title.
  • Drill Guide


The above is the field, borders, through holes and dial, all cleaned up.


The numerals around the dial were then placed and I made a new layer under each number with a white circle with a black border. To make the circles, I first created a black filled circle and then contracted the border by 4 pixels and filled it with white. I do this for all of the other labels (except the panel title).


For the Off/On switch, I made the text panel by creating two circles, adding a rectangle and then subtracting the circle in the middle for the drill guide.


For the panel title, I added the text, copied the text layer and rasterized it, selected the rasterized layer and expanded the border by 14 pixels and filled it in black. Then I contracted the border by 4 pixels and filled it with white. Finally, I removed the small holes in the text that were made when I expanded the rasterized text.

Then I started playing with the field. I wanted a pattern in the field that sits behind the text, dial and drill guides.

I started with a black and white leather texture pattern.


I also tried a steam punk black and white repeating pattern.


It’s probably a bit busy …

I’m going to go with the leather texture.

When I transfer the image to the brass plate, the image will be reversed, so I need to reverse the artwork so that it comes out the right way.

First I make a copy of the Photoshop file so that I have a backup. Next, I flatten the visible layers. Then, I flip the image horizontally.


Resulting in …


A mirror image of the panel.

When I etch, the bits that are white will be the bits that are etched … the bit’s that are black will be protected by the toner ink. So I need to invert the colours.


And, you guessed it … it turns out like …



There’s a whole lot less that will be etched (around about 35%), so the etch won’t need to take very long to get a good bite.

Well … that’s the design process done. Next, I’m going to print it out and transfer the image onto the brass.

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