Copper Board Art



Passionately Tinker and Hacker.

Hi everybody...

Here is my new art project COPPER BOARD ART (PCB ART) and it's very simple and interesting. The process is similar to conventional B&W film photography photo developing methods like exposing, negative to a positive conversation, etc.

You required:

1. Copper Board (PCB) you get it from any electronics component supplier.

2.FeCl2 Powder or Other PCB Etching Solution

4. Plastic Tray

5. Laserjet Printer

6. Toner Transfer Paper

7. Fine Sand Paper

8. Safety items like Glove, Respirator Dust Mask, Safety Goggle, etc.

9. Permanent Marker

10. Ruler, Cutter, Tissue Paper, Cloths, etc

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Step 1: Selecting Image

Choose a b&w image or convert a color image into black and white. Here is the link below the image I used.

Step 2: Black and White Image

Open the image in Photoshop or any other photo editing software for tone correction.

In Photoshop:

Step one: Go to Image > Adjustment > Selective Color. From colors, choose the color black and move the slider to increase the black color. Also, do the same for the white color to get an only black and white image. You can also adjust neutrals to get good b&w image. It's up to the image you choose.

The actual color blending (shading) won't work on the etching process so we need to convert the image into black and white or halftone image.

Step 3: Converting Positive to Negative

You need to convert the image positive to negative using the 'invert' option in photoshop and cross-check the inverted image is there any lighter color (gray) in the main detailed area, using the burn tool you can make the lighter area to dark.

Step 4: Print Out

The inverted and horizontal flipped image file you need to feed the printer. Take print out of the inverted and flipped image on toner transfer paper using laserjet printer (Toner Cartridge)

Step 5: Transferring Toner to the Copper Board

Clean the copper board using fine sandpaper to remove moisture/dust (I have used 6x4inch size PCB ) then place the print out face to the copper area and using gum tape fix it properly to avoid moving while heating.

And then press and heat the paper (place one more plain paper on printed toner transfer paper avoid stick gum tape to the iron box). Press and heat it about 2-3 min, heat, press and drag particularly on print area firmly to transfer all toner to the copper board.

Step 6: Toner Printed on Copper Board

Removed the toner transfer paper slowly from copper board, and wash it with water to remove paper particle remains on the board.

Step 7: Etching Process

Take100-200 grams of Ferric Ferrous Chloride FeCl3 and mix it with half litre of water in a plastic tray (use only plastic tray). Dip the board into the solution facing up and shake the tray rapidly until the all the copper area washed away properly. Use proper safety wears such as glove and masking during this process.

Step 8: Negative Print

This is the negative print on PCB board after etching process. After that fill all the area of the board with a black permanent marker. (you can use your desired color and it will be the background color for the image)

Step 9: Negative to Positive Developing

Scrub the printed are with fine sandpaper smoothly and repeat this 2 to 3 times to get the clear copper image. Due to moisture copper gets faded so apply varnish clear spray on it.

Thank You...

Step 10: Halftone Copper Image Developing

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    13 Discussions


    24 days ago

    Great Instructible! For easier and cleaner results, do o try A 3:1 mix of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide ( from pharmacies ) and Hydrochloric Acid (Sold as 'Muriatic Acid at hardware and grocery stores in the U.S.). It etches quick and clean with minor agitation to dislodge the bubbles and stays a transparent blue-green during the etching process. This makes it easy to monitor the progress and halt the etching when you consider it complete. You can also use a little baking soda afterwards during the post rinse process to neutralize the acid.
    There have been numerous instructibles devoted circuit board etching that have covered this issue in the past; it still mystifies as to why anyone would want to deal with FeCl3!

    3 replies

    Reply 24 days ago

    Great tip. I’m wondering, can you use something other than permanent marker (maybe paint, stain, etc.) on that last step? I’m just thinking of something that might leave a smoother finish, without all the “marker marks.”


    Reply 22 days ago

    The advantage of using marker is, while scrubbing the copper area permanent marker color won't be effected easily since the ink of the permanent marker sticks in depth of the fiber layer. Also the ink will act as some how polish on fiber area if we rub on cloths, so smoother color will get if we reapeat the polishing. I got good result.


    Reply 24 days ago

    Thanks rkrishnan...sure I will try this method...will update here the result.


    24 days ago

    Cool use of Ferris Chloride - I used it on Raku pottery and it's absolutely dangerous when sprayed on a hot surface, but OMG - the results are amazing! Neat to know about the Copper reaction, too. Great instructable!

    2 replies

    Reply 23 days ago

    Thank you Jeanniel... yes even I was not sure about the detailing what I achieved here. This was my 3rd attempt, first two I tried with halftone images.


    Reply 23 days ago

    I have laser engraving on metals but the detail you got for the cat came out super!


    24 days ago

    Thank you for that. It’s really interesting.

    1 reply