Intro: Shadow Poster
with this project I want to hack the regular infographic poster using projection of light. Instead of constructing my visual representation of data using just graphics, I engraved those data on Plexiglas strips using illustrator, rhino, and a CNC milling machine. I designed angle brackets in rhino and printed them 3D in order to hang my content on a vertical surface and give them the possibility to rotate and not be just perpendicular to that surface. Finally I’m projecting light through the Plexiglas, so that the message can be projected on a wall in form of shadow.
I called this project Shadow Poster: I’m designing a typographic poster, but instead of using only digital software, I introduced a crafty element.
Step 1: Design Your Typography
I used Illustrator to design my typographic poster. I was interested in a visual representation of data of african immigrants try to reach Europe in the last 4 years. But you can apply this concept to whatever message/poster/drawing you are interested in. For the fonts I used a combination of league gothic and helvetica neue.
Step 2: Engraving With a CNC Milling Machine
I imported the illustrator file into Rhino5 and then into Visual Mill to create a path to engrave on plexiglas sheets. If you are using a milling machine, engraving is a better choice than cutting. It allows you to keep details in your typography without the risk of breaking the plexiglas. In case you really want to cut your shapes, then be sure to use a lasercut.
Step 3: Cutting Your Plexiglas
After all the contents are engraved, cut the plexiglas into stripes making sure to leave at least 0.75 inches at the bottom of your strip for a better readability of the shadow. Cut 2 holes at the bottom of each message (1.25 inches from the bottom and 0.5 from the side) for the hanging system we are about to build.
Step 4: Hanging System: Angle Brackets
This step is actually not mandatory, you can probably find some very similar brackets at your local hardware store, but in case you want to have fun with a 3D printer here is what I created.
I designed some angle brackets with rhino and 3D printed them. You can even look for some files ready to print at http://www.thingiverse.com, and use them as they are or customize them like I did. I started from this file: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:24243
The reason why I wanted some movable angle brackets is that I could orient the plexiglas strips and obtain different shadow effects. Movability changes the readability of the project and allows the viewer to play with light even more.
Step 5: Hanging
I hang the plexiglas strips on the wall at 6 inches distance one from the other. I only 3D printed 4 angle brackets, and for the rest I used some regular angle brackets from my local hardware store. If you decide for this last solution I suggest you to paint the brackets the color of the wall.
And now the fun begins. Take a regular clear light bulb and light the plexiglass strips. The typography will instantly appear in form of a shadow projected on the wall. Walk around, change your point of view, see if you can read everything and enjoy the effect.
Step 6: Final Project: a Video
Here is a video of Kat, one of my colleague, playing with my shadow poster.