Introduction: LED Backlit Skyline

Welcome! I recently made a backlit skyline for a friend and wanted to share the results. I'm always looking for something a little different to try with my CNC and this definitely fit the bill.


Software Used

  • Inkscape (free)
  • Easel by Inventables (free)


Step 1: Trace Outline of Skyline

The first step is to find an outline of the city you would like to copy. A quick google search will likely pull up hundreds of options. For this project, I wanted to recreate Grand Rapids, Michigan which as an interesting skyline because of the unique bridges that are integral to the city.

I used Inkscape to trace a picture of the skyline. Inkscape is a great (free) software that can be used to create SVG files. These are ideal when working with the a CNC because you can easily scale the image to any size.

Step 2: Cut Out With CNC

I used Easel by Inventables to generate the gcode and communicate with my CNC machine. There are dozens of alternates that could be used instead. I chose easel because of the simplicity of the carve and ease of use the program offers.

Along with the skyline profile, I cut out the backdrop to frame the skyline exactly. Very convenient!

Step 3: Paint the Skyline and the Backdrop

I chose to stain the plywood a dark walnut and paint the backdrop white to give the sign a nice contrast. I've noticed that having a light colored backdrop really makes the profile pop when it is dark and the LED lights are on.

Step 4: Add Spacers and LED Strip

I used scrap wood I had laying around to add spacers on the back to give me place store the battery. I used velcro to hold the battery to the back of the sign.

Similarly I used spacers to separate the skyline and the background. This gave me space to put the LED strip around the back of the skyline.

Step 5: Light It Up!

Let there be light!

LED Strip Speed Challenge

Participated in the
LED Strip Speed Challenge