Engraving on Black Acrylic?

I purchased some 1/8" black acrylic from the GF shop, and we’ve been debating what to do with it. Tuesday night we found out that one of our dear friends had died suddenly, and my husband and I had discussed doing an engraving of his portrait on the GF for his wife and kids. I was thinking the black acrylic might be really handsome.

I have many great photos of him, and I’m handy in Illustrator and Photoshop. I guess my question is, what’s the best way to go about this?

I’m assuming that the engraved portions of the acrylic will turn out white. Do I need to use a b&w photo positive or photo negative to make the engraving file? And do I save it as a grayscale or…?

I’ve only got two sheets to work with and I don’t have any excess material to experiment with (nor time to order more), so I’d like to get as close as possible the first time around.

Engraves on black acrylic are black all the way through the material although the difference between the glossy and engraved sections does make a neat subtle effect.

If you want a white engraving you can still fill the engrave with white water based acrylic paint.


Which might work well for a stark engrave, but I think on something gradient, like a photo, it might completely obliterate the detail.

We do have some clear acrylic… maybe we’ll give that a shot. I’m just thinking our friend’s complexion might not translate well.

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Look into two color acrylic?

I don’t really have time to order it, unfortunately. However, I’m thinking that doing the engraving on clear acrylic and then mounting it in front of the (unengraved) black might have a really nice effect.


Are you near a home depot?

Marble tiles engrave really well, and you can wash it with a water-based paint to bring out the contrast as much as you like. It’ll preserve your halftones and look really great.

The other alternative is to admit that lasering the photo might not be a good fit. Getting a nice print of the photo and putting it in a Glowforged frame might be a better direction to go if the photo just won’t engrave well.

No time to build a frame? Buy a plain one from a local craft store (Michaels?) and then laser it with a personalized engraving, or make a mat out of wood/acrylic and insert it into your (purchased) frame.

I’m sure whatever effort you put in will be appreciated, it means a lot for your friend to know that you’re grieving with her and her kids. To quote Mr. Rogers: There are many ways to say I love you.


These are all really good points and suggestions, thank you. We have the weekend to work on it, so I’m sure we’ll be running through all our options and possibilities.


That might work! We have a half tone portrait done like that we had done at the World’s Fair in '84. Clear acrylic backed by gloss black. Playing with edge lit acrylic recently I tried it and it took it to the next level!

Sorry about your friend.


Thanks for your condolences.

This is an amazing portrait, by the way. What a fantastic souvenir.

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I could have dusted it before I took the picture…
Good Luck with what will be your wonderful gift. :heart:

I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. :cry:
Acrylic can be tricky for portraits, but if you want to give it a go I think backing it with black acrylic is a good idea. To give you an idea, this is a 3D engrave of a greyscale image. (Held up in front of my computer screen.) This is the backside/unengraved side of the acrylic.


Here’s an example I did on marble from Home Depot.


This came out really well! In this case our friend was very dark-complected, so white marble unfortunately wouldn’t work.

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I’m so sorry about your loss. What’s about slate.

When our family friend passed away we did a slate portrait.


That is a beautiful tribute. Great job. :grinning:

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Thank you.

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That is a great way to remember them. The image in the slate looks great!