Published: Jun 3, 2023 by K. E. Claytor
Netrunner Laser-Cut Identities
I’ve been using the laser cutter/engraver to generate some Netrunner identities for some time, and finally got some that look really good.
Initially, I started out by turning the standard card art grayscale and etching it into 1/8” acrylic. As you can see from the image below, my first two attempts (bottom) came out inverted, as darker colors in the image are more etching and therefore lighter in the final raster. (Personally, I kinda like the “ghost” look, and these are some of my favorites to play with.) Inverting the image gave nice results for shaper and criminal. You can also see that I was toying with opaque vs. transparent acrylic - I like the look of the transparent, but it does not help the legibility.
As I was etching these, I learned;
- the darker acrylic looks much better as there is higher contrast between the acrylic and etching
- the result is very sensitive to grayscale levels, I could not consistently get a good looking etch
- for the lighter colors you can etch a negative, then paint over it, and wash the paint off the surface to get a neat effect (for a lot of work)
At a circuit opener, I was talking with another player who had brought laser etched ids, and mentioned that I had done some initial experiments with cutting out slices of the acrylic from the card art. While it looked very neat, it was also a lot of work - I had to sub-select specific vertices, split them off from the larger art, and ensure that just the space I wanted would get cut (vs. a larger center area falling out). Thinking it over some more, I decided that it would be great to try with a simpler pattern.
Thankfully, inkscape has a “trace bitmap” tool, so I used that to trace the Jinteki tree logo and, well, it looks awesome:
I had decided to play both PE and Esâ, so I also had do one for xir. The art here was much more detailed, and I was getting large chunks falling out, and not really capturing the image well on the first pass. Subsequently, I went into the vector points, and edited the large “hollow” areas on the hood to be an outline instead, and widened the hair and eyes. I think the result looks fantastic:
(I actually forgot the link and MU icons on the first pass, and had to throw them back in the laser to etch just those portions, nearly making myself late to the CO I was playing in!)
Here are the vector art files if you’d like to make your own: