How to Hand Draw Your Own Etched Charms

Anyone can draw their own designs to be made into custom etched charms! It’s simple, fun, and super rewarding to create pieces from things that you’ve drawn. Etched pieces can then be combined with other techniques, like paint fill, to make a huge variety of different designs!

What You’ll Need:

  • A piece of white paper
  • A ruler
  • A fine black felt tip pen (0.2mm or larger)
  • A slightly larger black felt tip pen (0.8mm or larger)
  • A smart phone that can take photos, and access a web browser
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Step 1: Draw Your Shape Outline

With your fine felt tip pen (0.2mm or larger), draw the outline of your desired shape. Draw your shape around the size that you would eventually like the finished laser cut pieces to be. Your final charms will be laser cut from the outside line of your design, so try to keep the line-work neat and tidy. Tip: You can sketch your shape with pencil first, and then lay tracing paper over the top to draw a nice neat outline.

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Step 2: Re-Draw Your Shape

A really great tip for designing is to draw your desired shape at least 3 different times. Sometimes it takes a few warm up attempts to get your brain to communicate to your hand! Try drawing them with slightly different variations.

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Step 3:Pick Your Favourite Shape and Add Etching Details

Pick your favourite version of your newly drawn shape. If you’re having trouble deciding, leave it overnight and look again first thing in the morning. Try holding the designs up to the mirror and looking at the reflected version.
Once you’ve picked your favourite version, use your thicker felt tip pen (0.8mm or larger) to add details to be etched. By drawing your design close to the size that your final charms will be, and by using a thicker felt tip pen, you can be sure that all of the details will engrave well.

Important side note:

It’s completely OK to sketch in pencil first and then go over your artwork with a felt tip pen. Just be sure to completely erase any pencil marks or smudges BEFORE moving onto the next step. If there’s any pencil marks left, they may show up in your final laser cut pieces (which is typically undesirable)!

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Step 4: Take a Photo of Your Shape

The cameras on mobile phones are so great these days, they can step in here instead of a scanner. So simple! Hold your phone as close as possible to the shape (while still getting all of the shape in the photo). Make sure that you are holding the camera flat and directly above the shape (if you take the photo on an angle the shape will get distorted). It’s important that you have good lighting (such as you are taking the photo undercover on a sunny day… and not in a dimly lit room at night) – make sure that there are no shadows or glare. You should get a reasonably crisp, mostly black and white photo.

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Step 5: Give Your Shape a Name

Navigate to the photo on your smart phone and title the photo (if possible). This step can be left out, but it can make re-ordering easier down the track if you’ve given it a name.

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Step 6: Measure Your Shape

Use a ruler to measure the size that your shape is, then navigate to the appropriate sized listing for Custom Etched Charms to best suit your shape.

My banana design was just between 50mm – 60mm, so I’ve decided to order Etched Charms Large and request that the maximum dimension be 55mm.

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Step 8: Order Your Custom Etched Charms

Follow the prompts on the Etched Charms Large listing to checkout. Select ‘New Design’ from the drop down menu. Upload your design. Tick any options that you would like (such as add a hole, and reflect half of your order to have matching/mirrored pairs). Choose your material type and colour, then click add to cart.

Add any other items to your cart that you might like (such as Mixed Bag of Paired Mini Circles With Hole (Pack of 40), and a tube of E6000 Adhesive Small Tube 1oz (30ml)).

Navigate to your cart, and follow the prompts to complete payment/checkout.

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Step 8: Get Creative with Assembly and Finishing Touches!

Once your order has been received, Vector Etch staff will process your requests within 5-10 business days. They’ll set-up your artwork for laser cutting and create your shape in the material that you’ve requested. If there’s any issues at all with your shape (such as the photo is too dark), we’ll get in touch to let you know. Once your pieces have arrived, you can assembled and combine them into any sort of end products that you desire!

Final Tips:

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Experiment with Paint Fill to Add Colour to the Etched Areas!

Read our full tutorial for How to Do Paint Fill to add colour to the etched areas.

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Re-Order the Same Design in Different Materials

Vector Etch offers a partial discount when you re-order a design. Try experimenting with the same design in different materials to expand your product range (and make more use of your artwork). You could also do a modified re-order and try your design smaller or larger to be different items, like brooches.

  • Check out our page of Designers and Resources for links to components to finish your new pieces (like tassels, chains, etc).
  • Try to draw your design close to the size that you would actually like your custom charm to be. One of the biggest mistakes that we see is when people draw things larger and then scale them down to mini size (15mm or less), which means that some parts end up really small and fine. Fine pieces may break when handled, or not be sturdy enough to last as jewellery pieces over time.
  • Combine this tutorial with our other tutorials. Maybe you want to go a step further and link your shapes to something else, or glue them up to be brooches. Keep creating past the basic guide to make even more unique pieces!