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Creating Acrylic Substrates
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Creating acrylic substrates

Choosing an acrylic medium for a skin
How to create an Acrylic Skin

When considering what substrate to try printing on, here are some tips to consider:
Lighter colors generally work better than the darker colors.

Heavily textured or patterned substrates are more likely to result in an obscured image.
It can be more difficult to keep textured substrates thin enough or flat enough to avoid being hit by printer heads.

An acrylic substrate includes any surface painted or created with acrylic paints, gels, pastes, or mediums.

One type of acrylic substrate is an acrylic “skin”. Acrylic skins are thin films of acrylic that can be used as an element in a collage or layered work.

Acrylic Skin Options

Acrylic Skin OptionsAcrylic skins can be created with almost any gel, medium or acrylic paint.  Any of the gels can be tinted with color before making the skin or painted and/or stained after the printing is complete. Clear gels can be printed on and then painted on either the front or the back.

Here are some ideas:

Soft Gel (Gloss) creates a very clear skin to be printed upon.

Soft Gel (Semi-Gloss) is not quite as clear, but the small amount of added solids makes this product less likely to stick to carriers during the printing process.

Clear Tar Gel is another very clear gel which levels nicely during the drying process; however as a smooth, thin skin this gel can sometimes be a little harder to work with.

Acrylic Ground for Pastels makes a warm translucent skin with some tooth that accepts printed images very well.

Fluid Matte Medium works well for a thin translucent skin.

Interference colors are light enough to accept printed images beautifully with unique color effects.

Similarly Iridescent colors can be used for dramatic effects with printed images.

Creating an Acrylic Skin
Find a level work surface and cover with 4 mil polyethylene sheeting, often labeled simply Poly or Plastic Sheeting.

This type of sheeting can often be found at hardware stores, garden supply places, and for use around homes as a moisture barrier. Plastic garbage bags and wax paper can also work.

Try to avoid seams or folds in the plastic as these will transfer to your skin.

Acrylic will not stick to this type of plastic, so you will be able to peel it up after it is dry.

Apply the acrylic medium of choice onto the plastic and allow it to dry thoroughly, usually overnight.

Skimming over the acrylic medium with a wide spackling blade or palette knife can produce a very smooth thin layer.

Brush or palette knife marks will result in a more textured surface.

Keep the size of your acrylic skin to a size that can fit through your printer, or plan to cut it before printing.

For ease of printing, try to keep the layer very thin, 1/32 to 1/16 of an inch.


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