DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of the artwork used in this Instructable - these rights belong to Netflix and the creators of both the Castlevania Game and Show. I only own the steps to make this project.
Hello! My name is Raphy, and welcome to my very first instructable!
My girlfriend gave me this cute 3" x 3" salt cube lamp for Christmas, and I loved it. Thanks to the U-Makers Makers' space in Claremont/Upland, California, I was able to make this little project that I'd like to share for anyone else who receives this wonderful gift from someone.
This instructable will teach you how to create your very own Salt-Lamp cover. In this instructable, you will learn how to:
- Work with Acrylic
- Transfer your designs into a laser cutter
- Put the cube together
- Learn from my OWN mistakes so you won't make the same ones (with pictures)
For this specific instructable, below details everything I used. However, as with all things, this is a design - you can uses this instructable as a guide for your own box and salt cube size.
- Clear Acrylic Sheet (8" x 12" x 1/8")
- Krylon Industrial Acrylic Lacquer Spray Paint - Black
- Weld-On Adhesive
- Any kind of black acrylic-based paint for detailing
These tools are a necessity for stubborn acrylic sheet wrapping. My experience was very annoying, because the sheets I had to work with had very stubborn glue and made many scratches on the nice, clear acrylic. For those unfortunate enough to work with stubborn covers, these tools will be useful.
- Rubbing Alcohol
Also, a small brush to use for detailing would be needed.
- Laser Cutter (Provided by U-Makers)
- Inkscape (or any Graphical Software, such as Adobe Illustrator)
- Retina Engrave (for the Laser Cutter)
The source file is included below, for those who want the same Castlevania template. You can also use the template for the red-lined box vectors for cutting a cube about 3" x 3".
Step 1: Prepare the Acrylic
For those who are fortunate enough to have an easy wrapping for their acrylic sheet(as shown in the blue packaging), you need only remove it like you would a a band-aid, just take one edge and pull carefully until it's fully removed.
For those who are unfortunate enough to have stubborn acrylic packaging, this step's details are for you.
We are using the chisel and rubbing alcohol.
- Pour enough rubbing alcohol to cover the entire sheet, and spread it around with your hands. You want to soak the packaging entirely.
- Carefully take one edge, and pull, going along the edges to ensure a clean removal.
- If you are like me, and have stubborn glue, use the chisel to remove the glue and cover.
- Continue until there is no longer any packaging.
Step 2: Paint the Acrylic
Next, we are going to paint our clear acrylic, using Krylon Industrial Acrylic Lacquer Spray Paint. As stated earlier, it doesn't have to be this specific brand - the desired color and brand is up to you, as long as it is acrylic -based.
First, lay your acrylic on top of a flat surface - somewhere you do not mind spray-painting. For me, I would lay a flat piece of cardboard on the ground so that I would not paint the floor around me.
Next, take a few steps away, then spray paint!
Make sure to coat the entirety of one side. To achieve the effect we want, we will be leaving the other side clean. So we will finally have a single acrylic sheet, with one side painted, the other side clear.
Step 3: Import Your Images Onto InkScape
Before we format our file to print, we need a file to begin with. So, open up InkScape and I will show you the settings needed for the file setup, vector box cuts, as well as the ways I took the Castlevania images and brought them to Inkscape.
For file set-up:
- File > Save as > name.svg (save as an .svg file)
- Document Properties > Page (these settings can be your own custom dimensions as well)
- Unit: In
- Width: 20
- Height: 12
- Grid Units: In
- Major grid line every: 8
- Origin X: 0
- Origin Y: 0
- Spacing X: 0.125
- Spacing Y: 0.125
For the vector cuts, here are the settings I used, so that you can also use the same:
- Vector stroke width should be 0.01 inches.
- RGB Color Levels: R:255, G:0, B:0, A:255
For the raster engraves, I experimented with four methods, each easily usable for beginner/non-artists. Images such as Dracula, Alucard, Trevor, Sypha, and the Castlevania Netflix title are taken from Google Images along with their respective sources.
- Copy and paste the images from Google, onto your file.
- Scale them down to fit the vector boxes.
- Right-Click > Trace Bitmap
Here, you will find the four options that I experimented with: pen tool(not part of Trace Bitmap), brightness cutoff, edge detection, color quantization. Below, I shall explain which character I experimented with which option, as well as my own observations on when to use which. Also, I have found that tracing bitmap for raster engravings are suited best for cartoons, anime, or anything that is cell-shaded. Gradients, realistic lighting, photos, etc. will have a less-than-desired result, and I would recommend using the pen-tool for photos and anything with a more finessed approach.
- I tried the pen-tool first on Dracula, before discovering the other options. My Dracula was not as refined as it could be, because I wanted to do it quickly. However, with time and patience, a very well-made trace can be made into a real engraving.
- I would recommend this for photos and images.
Brightness Cutoff: Alucard
- This setting I found to work very well for distinctly contrasting images.
- I recommend this for silhouettes.
Edge Detection: Sypha
- This setting I really really like, and works well for images with distinct outlines.
- I recommend this for any image with clear line-work and outlines.
Color Quantization: Trevor
- I used this setting on Trevor and found that this is best used for multiple colors
- I have a hard time recommending this option, because Brightness Cutoff can at-times, work similarly or better. It's best to experiment with this option and Brightness Cutoff, and choose from there.
Step 4: Format Your Inkscape File for Laser Cutting
In Inkscape, we are going to take our Inkscape file (my source file is in the introduction) and prepare it for lasercutting.
Firstly, make sure to save your file as a .svg file, so for example, your file should be named file.svg.
Once you have saved it as such, then you should follow the procedure every time you want to print:
- Launch Retina Engrave
- Return to InkScape
- File > Print
- Select: Full Spectrum Engineering Driver
- Click on Preferences
- Click on Advanced
- Under Paper Size, select: FSL Hobby Series Gen5 20x12
- Press Okay, until you return to the main Printing Screen
- Press Apply
- Press Print
Step 5: Formatting Your Cut in Retina Engrave
After the previous step, you should see your vector cuts and raster engraves in Retina Engrave. Although this is not an instructable about using a Laser Cutter, here are a few habits to build while using one:
- Make sure to re-level and re-focus the laser.
- Follow the set-up instructions on your laser cutter.
- Check the perimeters of your cut
- Connect the static IP for your Laser Cutter
- Ensure that nothing will move your material as the laser cuts it.
With these habits, now we'll move to the the settings I used for the Raster Engraves and Vector Cuts.
- Raster Properties:
- Power: 35%
- Speed: 95%
- B/W Threshold: 45%
- Red -
- Speed: 7%
- Power: 95%
- Passes: 1
- 0 Passes
- We will not be using the black vector cuts at all.
Step 6: Laser Cutting the Acrylic
It's always nice to double check both the perimeter of the cutting job, the placement of your materials, and the leveling of your laser height. Once you've check that, everything should be okay!
Something I learned the hard way was to ensure that your piece doesn't move by external factors, such as the vacuuming tube attached to the laser-cutter, or the vibrations made by the machine itself. In order to solve these problems, I recommend either having a large piece of acrylic to work with, or placing something stable that will absorb the vibration, such as cork, under your acrylic (NOTE: If you use cork under, lower the settings of the cut's Vector Power to 25%, and and make the Passes = 2; do this or risk the cork catching fire.) Make sure that the laser is leveled and focused, factoring in that cork or other stabilizing material as well. You can also put rubber stops at each bottom corner of your laser-cutter, too.
Now, on the bottom right, check the estimated times for both your raster engravings, and your vector cuts. Then, place your acrylic into the laser cutter,click on the play-symbol and start the job! Wait until it is done, then plop the pieces out once they are finished!
Step 7: "Gluing" Together the Acrylic Cube
Once you have your acrylic cut and you have nothing else to do to it, now is the time to glue it! Or technically, "weld" it together, since the adhesive we use is technically welding.
- Place the acrylic cuts together, with the top piece in the center, and the sides being placed accordingly like an unfolded box(The center should be faced clear-side up, while the rest of the pieces should be faced painted side up).
- Take your syringe, and take in some weld-on into the syringe.
- Apply the weld-on to the sides adjacently touching the center-piece.
- Lay the side-connecting pieces up, so that they are standing.
- Carefully apply weld-on to the corners of the standing sides.
- Leave the cube alone for minimum an hour, but for better results, a day.
Step 8: Adding Final Touches
After gluing, you may or may not notice that the Weld-On diluted and distorted some of the acrylic spray paint. These, along with other distortions, can give our cube a less-than-desirable result.
To solve this problem, we are going to use some smaller tubes of acrylic paint, along with a paintbrush.
Take your paint and cover the distortions that go along your painted side of the acrylic. For me, I couldn't find the exact same shade of paint that the Krylon Spray Paint was, so I used a normal black acrylic paint - for the result we want, we just want to cover it up on the inside (since the painted side is inside the cube), so that we can get as much darkness on the clear side as possible.
Step 9: Placing the Finished Cube Onto the Lamp and Enjoy
The last step is easy! Just place the cover onto the cube, and finally enjoy what you've worked hard to make! Thank you for following my instructable, and I hope you enjoy both the process, and the final result!