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Faux Glass Techniques for your ScanNCut

Faux Glass Techniques for your ScanNCut main article image
Posted on July 19, 2021 by Natalie Ballard

You will need:

  • Thick acetate/thin acrylic sheet roughly 1mm deep
  • Etch tool for your machine
  • Black vinyl (ideally metallic)
  • Translucent vinyl colours
  • Leafing
  • Double-sided adhesive
  • Quickie glue pen
  • Glossy accents/3D Gloss
  • Floating Frame
  • Adobe Illustrator/Corel Draw/Inkscape

Choosing your font

For this project, you want to be inspired by vintage glass art and signage. I’d recommend starting with some research, but don’t try to match fonts exactly.

You need two fonts: one decorative with lots of detail, and one that is similar in silhouette but solid.

Vintage signage often uses warping techniques which is what you are going to learn how to do today. Pick a sentiment, quote, or other wording to design with; underline the focus words that will be larger in your design; circle shorter words like “in” or “of the” as these will be smaller.

I’m going to show you how to break down your words using a sample phrase. This will lead you through my process.

Sketching your design

This is where we take your written phrase and start converting it into a work of art. Work on a few different layouts and use curves, household objects, or anything else to help you plan your design. Don’t get hung up on perfectly drawn text, focus on the shapes and the layout.

We then need to move to the computer and our design software. We are going to set up our preferred design first then work out the application of finishes later. 

Building your file

Start a new document that matches the size of the glass of your frame. Add a margin that matches the inside rim of your frame. Set up inner margins that sit inside your margins to your frame. These mark the outside area of your design.

Screenshot showing setup of initial margins

Start with the first of your focus words, for this first word try a nice basic warp. Type your word and select it with your arrow tool. Go to [Object]-[Envelope Distort][Make with Warp] and choose the warp option that best fits your planned design. Bear in mind you can apply multiple warps to tweak the shape.

Diagram of basic warp options

You can also tweak the size of an object after warping, but you can also go back and tweak a warp without utilising the History / multiple undos using the Properties panel.

Now, type your next focal word (don’t sweat the small stuff yet), this time we look at warping with a mesh. Meshes are great where you need more control over a shape or if a shape isn’t symmetrical.

Screenshot of a word with a mesh applied and being edited

You can also warp with a shape that is already on your art board. This is a useful option if you want to use a shape such as an oval as a base for one of your circled words. Type your text then draw your desired shape {the shape must be on top). Go to [Object]-[Envelope Distort]-[Make with Top Shape] with both the text and shape selected.

Screenshot showing a shape being used to warp

Continue to type, layout, and adapt your remaining words to build your design. Refer back to your reference material for design inspiration for any elements you are unhappy with.

Once you are completely happy with your design, be sure to apply any warps by applying them. This is important to achieve the correct cut. Go to [Object]-[Envelope Distort]-[Expand] to apply the mesh/warp on the currently selected object(s).

Decorating your design

In addition to your text, you can use your pen tool, decorative borders, and strokes, and also dingbat fonts to add decorative elements to your designs. You can use warp with all of these options to help them blend into your design.

Border suggestion

Now we haven’t touched on colour yet… but let’s start considering it now. This is the stage where you focus on your black outline; let’s get ready to vinyl!

Outlining your piece

The black vinyl is going to act as a container for the coloured vinyl, gloss medium, and leafing. This means for some fonts and elements you will want to add a stroke to your element. You then need to change the thickness to your desired border. When you are happy with your outline, you need to expand the stroke into a new object. 

Don’t delete your original element as you can now consider if you want to cut it from coloured translucent or other special finish vinyl… or you can etch or leaf these shapes instead. Note this in the object name or use colour to differentiate between finishes.

Decorative finishes

You have now setup all of your black vinyl outlining to all or most of your shapes. Next, we need to focus on finishing…


You can use etching as an alternative to vinyl outlining, but the etching will be more noticeable if you use it to fill a shape. You can draw a fill if you wish, see part 2 of my fill tutorial. Alternatively, the ScanNCut can fill areas for you. Etching will be more noticeable on the front, but you can get a neater finish if you work from the back. For working on the back, see leafing.


This uses thin metal sheets applied to dry tacky glue. You could apply leafing glue to the back of your panel by hand, but if you prefer to use your ScanNCut…

Export your leafing elements to SVG; import this file into canvas. Flip the elements horizontally and fill them if not already filled. Send to your machine.

On your machine, you can use the Brother foiling pen or a Quickie Glue pen using the Foil (glue) option. This can be turned on in premium functions if not already available to you. You should also use this option if you are using a leafing pen instead.

Colour, translucent, and effect vinyls

These vinyls are used to fill elements of your design. To get a neat finish, you will need to apply a slight inset to your fill shapes. This will help your pieces to fit flush into your design. The amount will vary slightly but try 0.25mm inside to start with.

Other media for manual application

Manual application of products should be done on the back of your acetate. You can use gloss media to mimic the textural effect of vintage glasswork. Use the applicator to swirl the media and allow to dry fully. There are other media you can use such as glitter glues, translucent media, or metallic paints.

You can also use these same exact design techniques for chalk paint, stencilling and so much more. I’ve been inspired to create something totally different with this design, so I’ll be sure to pop up another piece with how this came out.

Finished design screenshot prior to stencilling and embellishment

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