A New Endeavor - Lithophanes


(Tom DiGiovanni) #1

Decided to give making lithophanes a try. Purchased some 8 x 10 and 5 x 7 solid surface from Candleworks Gifts on line. Pricing is quite reasonable and their customer service is fantastic.

They’re .25" thick. I mill down the thickness to .125" in the area that the image will be with a .25" EM. I then etch (carve) the image with a 0.0625 BN with 10% step over and a cutting depth of 0.1". Got to play with the carving depth to make sure it doesn’t cut thru the piece, but I leave no more than 0.020" an the deepest cut. I make my own frames for them and use white LED strip lighting glued to an inside rim so the lights face themselves.

The back is made of 0.125" PVC and the inside (for the smaller ones) is covered in aluminum foil to help reflection. For the 8 x 10’s, I use a piece of .125" mirror cut to size.

In the photos, I used a picture of a friend of mine (with his permission) brought it into PhotoVCarve and spec’ed the output size, depth of cut and material thickness. It was also processed as an “inverse” file so the light areas were thin and the dark areas were thicker.

If you don’t have something like Aspire that allows you to import a PhotoVCarve file, you can output the GCode file directly from PhotoVCarve.

For colorizing, I take the same photo I used to create the lithophane and print it on clear laser sheets. I use ATG tape (used by picture framers to put the black paper on the back of a frame) along the outer edge of the litho and carefully place the printed image to align it with the carving.

I love doing these!


(Jerry Gray) #2

That’s beautiful work!
Thanks for the colorizing tip, too.


(Tom DiGiovanni) #3

Thanks, jdg3. Sometimes I have to print the pic at a slightly enlarged size to align things.
I appreciate the feedback!


(Evan Day) #4

Great work. I want to try one of these for a gift I need to make in a few months, and I really like the colorized version. Any picture of what it looked like with the light on and just the carving, before you finished? I am curious how the same image looks just carved.


(Tom DiGiovanni) #5

EvenDay, I don’t have any of the one I posted; sold that one. Here’s another one that is ready to be delivered.

Unlit, lit, internals unlit, internals lit, the back config and the bit I used. Pix didn’t post in the order I wanted. Sorry!

1/16 4 1/32 1/4 1 3 5.4° ZrN Coated Tapered Ball Nose Amana Tool 46282 
$44.70 from ToolsToday.

Hope this helps.