Adding colour and contrast

Hi , I have been exoerimenting with adding some colour ans specifically some high contrast to lasered objects.Whilst engraved objects ,even with some shading, has a somewhat flat effect, I experimented with different timbers and using contact film from the store. Colouring was done with food colouring watered down to get a transparent coating. Coats are added to get the required olour.To get the high contrast I tried balsa, radiata pine but as the laser can only cut reliable 3 mm stock i reverted back to poplar ply with the white contact film fixed to it. A transfer film was put over the white film to prevent charing. Just something I thought might like to try


These are great results John.

Did you sand the edges to get that rounded effect? It looks great.

Yes each piece is rounded off before gluing to a backing piece to give the oiece some depth.
Here’s another one using 3 mm solid timber.



It certainly makes it look like it has more depth.

Love it!

Further experiments with colour and contrast.
A drink coaster using mdf and contact film. Mdf coloured with food colouring and white is a stencil cut from darkly ECM contact paper.
A question about the ECM film. "I came across a post from the laserlivestream stating that sticky backed products should nort be cut on the laser. (Damages the lense and affects the electronics).
Does this apply to the ECM film as it states in the description section that ECM film is especially formulated not to contain chlorine and is suitable for cutting on the emblaser core
tree coaster
Thanks John

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Hi John,

Great result.

The Contact film we sell is completely safe for laser cutting and will not produce fumes that will damage any parts of the Emblaser. The data-sheet states that carbon-monoxide and water vapour are the by-products when this material is burnt.

As long as your machine has its exhaust fans working and you are venting the fumes safely or through the F200 fume extractor, there should be minimal buildup of any debris when you are cutting this material.

Thanks Domenic


Heres another object showing a lot of contrast using contact film

Has alook about it like stained glass



What a great use of black and white contact film! Nice work!!

Are the film positions recessed or marked on the plywood at all?

Lliam, an explanation of how I made the Panda with high contrast.

With a brief explaination and hope that it explains the process. I’ve since thought of other ways to achieve the same result and will try them out later on. In the mean time I hope the pdf explains all and helps others who may want to give this a try.

High contrast PANDA
The aim is to use contact film (black and white) to
add contrast to a tabletop object by Using some of the functions
within Lightburn and the ability of the Emblaser Core to cut accurate

All materials are available from the Darkly Store.

You will need:
2 pieces 200 x 150 x 3 mm poplar plywood
1 piece black contact film
1 piece white contact film
Artwork of your choice (suitable for geometrically
drawn. (In this case a Panda)

Develop the art work so that each colour is
separate from each other and leaves a space of about
of 3 mm between each piece.
I used the line tool in Lightburn to draw the outline of
each section, Then applied a offset of 1.5 mm
inside and outside. Selected each section and removed
the centre line.

Group the section.
Repeat for the adjoining piece.
Use the union of two shapes in Lightburn to create an framework

Example of frame work object

Repeat the process until you have the whole
object drawn as a framework. and save your
Example of finished artwork

Cutting out on the Emblaser
Place your piece of 3mm ply in the Emblaser in such a
way that it CAN NOT move. (This is important for the next operation)
Cover the whole of the plywood with Black
contact film
Frame your art in Lightburn to fit on the plywood.
Select all of the internal pieces and apply an external
offset of 1mm. This will leave a thin 1mm section
between each internal piece when cut.
Select only the pieces that are to be black and
cut them out on the Emblaser.
Without removing the piece from the Emblaser,
weed out the unwanted contact film.
Place a sheet of white contact film over the ply
in the Emblaser and select the pieces of artwork
that are white and cut on the Emblaser.
Weed out the unwanted white contact film.
Remove the piece from the Emblaser and place
the second piece of plywood in position.
Select ALL segments of the art work and cut out on the

This will produce an overlay that will cover the joins in the contact film
Remove the second piece and fix on top of the plywood with the
contact film fixed in place.

Using this method you wont have to individually
position the pieces of contact film accurately on the
backing ply.

PS. If you use a piece of 1.5mm ply for the
overlay piece you may be able to cut both pieces
at the same time and eliminate the need to
manually cut out the outside shape.
Hope this explains the process

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Lliam, My post wont accept a PDF and converting to a JPG did not go so well.
Can you change anything so people can read the post

Hi John, we are looking into this now.

Nice writeup!

I think I understand now, correct me if I’m wrong:

  • Each layer of contact film is applied to the ply before it is cut, so it is perfectly aligned.
  • The visible plywood is actually a seperate layer that sits on top of the piece with the contact film, covering the cut edges of the film and giving you that ‘recessed’ look.

This is a cleaver way to avoid the otherwise potentially tedious application of the contact film.

Something you might find useful - whenever I am doing something that needs physical manipulation or alteration mid-job I’ve started adding two or more crosshairs to the outskirts of the workpiece. This way if I do move things by accident I can use the Print & Cut feature in LightBurn to get things lined back up to within about 0.2mm or less if I’m careful.

Lliam, Yes you have it thought out, also thanks for the tip about the print and cut. It has prompted me to attempt a pass through on the emblaser of a 900 X 300 Giraffe using the skeleton shapes.

Something that I have been thinking about is whether I can print on the contact film through a colour laser… If so it would open a large avenue of other projects.