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Custom Acrylic Display Base & Image Transfer




Tutorial almost complete;

remaining will be added soon


Part 1- Making the Acrylic Display Base

1: What you need for making the display base
2: Cutting acrylic to size
3: Measurements
4: Drilling the acrylic for Standoffs
5: Sand edges and sharp corners to round
6: Drilling acrylic for action base attachment & cleaning dust
7: Polish the acrylic
Part 2- Image Transfer to Acrylic Display Base
1: What you need for image transferring to acrylic
2: Transferring your image; method 1 - Using fluid mediums: Cut and Paste
3: Transferring your image; method 2 - Using fluid mediums: True Image Transfer
4: Transferring your image; method 3 - Lazy, cheap method: Cut and Place




Little info about acrylics

Acrylic are known as perspex, plexiglas, lucite, acrylite, pmma, acrylic glass and many other names; they are shatter-resistant and 10 times stronger than glass,  yet have a glass-like appearance, easier to work with, good for display cases, signs, etc.

Most of all; they make your models look more luxury

long story short, you didn't come to this page to learn about how good acrylic is;





I'll teach you how to

cut, measure, drill, attach standoffs, sand, attach action base, polish and image transfer

all in 1 tutorial :)



1: What you need for making the display base



^ One 3mm Clear Acrylic Sheet (Size is up to you) ^



^ One 3mm Gloss Black Acrylic Sheet (Size is up to you, but both of them in same size) ^



^ Metal Standoffs (The 4 screw looking things) ^ 



^ Tamiya Plastic Scriber (for cutting acrylic to custom size) ^



^ Dymo tape (Serves as a guide for cutting acrylic) ^



 ^ A Pencil or Pacer (For drawing measurements) ^



^ A powered portable/wired drill with variable speed control ^



^ A drill guide (This serves as an drill press, but as an cheaper option) ^

you can use an drill press if you have one, but not everybody can afford it,
so I'll be using a drill guide for this tutorial



^ Drill bits, either these Multiconstruction bits or Acrylic/Plastic Drill bits ^

Other bits will crack the plastic due to their different tip designs not made for drilling plastic 



^ Ruler (For measuring precisely) ^



^ F-Clamps or C-Clamps (I prefer F-Clamps, they are easier to adjust) ^



^ Powered Palm Sander or Belt Sander ^

(Powered sander gives you more precision, Belt Sander sands faster, it's up to you)



^ Portable Workbench ^


any table that allows you to drill without damaging the table

i.e.- wooden table with spaced gaps



^ Digital Caliper ^

(optional- for measuring diameters of action base connectors)



^ Action Base (use it as a stand for you gundams) ^



^ Micro-fibre cloth (For cleaning dust after sanding and drilling) ^




^ Plastic Cleaner & Polisher (for cleaning and preventing dust) ^



2: Cutting acrylic to size


This part is an optional process, only apply if you need to cut your acrylic down to a certain size, you will need your tamiya plastic scriber, pencil/pacer and dymo tape.



Start off by drawing a straight line on where you want to cut off,
in this case the right side of the line will cut off.



Cut a strip of Dymo Tape and stick it on the side that doesn't need to be cut
with the marked line visible.



A closer look, I've used clear for a clearer explanation



Start scoring with your tamiya plastic scriber on the marked line like the animation below.


Cutting Acrylic ( Animated Demo )


Score repeatedly like so, until the depth of scoring is a bit more passed than half;



Then break/snap it off like so/ in the 2 pictures above with downward force, 
if scored enough and correctly, it will break off straight.



After breaking, you are left with a clean piece of cut acrylic,
repeat this process for additional pieces of acrylic.




3: Measurements


This part will help you setup the measurements for drilling holes for the
Metal Standoffs, you will need a ruler and pencil.



Align your ruler slightly on the edge of the acrylic,
with "0cm" matching the edge, mark a line/dot on "3cm"




After marking, you are left with a line/dot like the picture above.



Align the ruler again like previous step "0cm" on edge,
but in opposite direction. Again; mark a line/dot on "3cm".



After marking both directions, you are left with something like the picture above.



Realign your ruler again with one of the markings, and draw a line all the way till "3cm".



After drawing the line, you are left with something like above.



Do the same with the other marking, until you make a square like below.



You are left with a square made up by the 2 lines, if you look at the corner.



Draw 2 markings on "1.5cm" at top and bottom, which is the center of the 3cm lines.



Draw a line from marking "A" to "B"



After drawing the line, you are left with 2 rectangles.



Do the same with the opposite direction



After marking the lines, you are left with 4 tiny squares.



This centerpoint is where your standoffs will be attached.



A look at Metal Standoffs detached, basically it's a Flat Screw and a Flat Nut.



Mark a dot in the centerpoint of the marked lines, this dot is where
you will drill your hole for the metal standoffs.



Repeat the measuring process for all corners, you can draw lines to match each corners
like in the picture, so you can check if the measurements are right or off.



Repeat the whole process for additional acrylic sheets


That is all for measurements...



4: Drilling the acrylic for Standoffs


This part will teach you how to drill holes for the metal standoffs, get your
drill, drill guide, drill bits, clamps and workbench/table ready.



I use 8mm Drill bit, again like I mentioned before, use these drill bits like in the picture
or acrylic drill bits,  otherwise it will crack the acrylic if you drill with other bits.

Refer to the size of you standoffs, use correct drill bit size.



Prepare your workbench/ table

You can get one of these foldable workbench at hardware stores for a cheap price



Place 1 piece of your measured acrylic on the workbench/table



Align the centerpoint of your corner with a hole/gap on the table,
so you can drill through the acrylic without damaging the table;

After aligning, clamp your acrylic to the workbench/table.




Mount your drill to your drill guide



Align the drill with the marked centerpoint on the acrylic by
pressing down on drill guide not the trigger,


If it's precisely aligned, then grip your drill guide with other hand and start drilling.



Check your drilled hole



Do the same for all other centerpoints on the acrylic.



Prepare one of your standoffs for test fitting



Detach it



Insert the "Bolt" part from the top through one of the drilled holes



Attach and tighten the "Nut" part from the bottom



Test fit all 4 holes with standoffs, if holes are drilled straight and precise,
the acrylic will stand raised on a flat level evenly on all sides.



Prepare the other piece of acrylic



Repeat the drilling process like before for all 4 centerpoints



Detach the standoffs and reattach with the black piece on the bottom and clear piece on top.
If holes are precisely drilled, the standoffs will fit in nicely



Don't remove the protective adhesive paper on the acrylic yet,
because we need to sand the edges.


Drilling Demonstration


Here's a drilling demo, gives you a clearer understanding on how to drill it


That's all for drilling holes for standoffs on the acrylics...


Next we will sand the edges on the acrylic sheets~



5: Sand edges and sharp corners to round


This part will teach you how to get rid of rough / slightly uneven edges by sanding,
you will need a powered palm sander with the following grit sandpaper attachments
> 40/80/120/240 grits


Sanding Edges


This is what a powered palm sander looks like-
mine is cordless

I suggest you get corded ones,
because mine runs out of battery within 20-30 mins, it's frustrating....



Start off with 40grit sandpaper attached and sand all 4 edges until even, then move up the grit  from 40 > 80 > 120> 240 while repeating the same process for each different grit.



^ A video demo on sanding edges ^



After sanding edges we left with smooth edges

Below is optional: Attempt if you want to make your corners round


Sanding Sharp Corners to Round animation demo



Move your palm sander like in the animation to make corners round


That is all for sanding... tough process but result = stunning :)



Next we will drill holes for attaching an action base display stand...



6: Drilling acrylic for action base attachment & cleaning dust


This part will teach you how to setup and drill holes for attaching an action base stand and clean any dust left over from the sanding. You will need an action base display stand, digital/manual caliper, pencil/pacer, clamps, workbench/table, drill and drill guide like before, a duster and a micro-fibre cloth.



Action base display stand
(We don't need the base part of this, just the stand is needed)



Use your caliper, and tighten it to measure the diameter of the back rod of the stand, in this case
it's 6.92mm, I'll be using a 7mm drill bit, because I don't have 6.92mm



Measure the front rod, it's 7mm at the front.


I positioned mine according to the image that I'm going to transfer onto the acrylic,
position yours anywhere to your liking.




I lifted off my image, while retaining the position



Mark the two rod positions by tracing around each connector



Trace the front rod connector



Clamp your acrylic again for drilling



I needed to detach 2 of my standoffs so it will fit in the table holes
but still retaining two pieces together.



I use 7mm drill bit



Attach drill bit to drill



Attach drill to drill guide



Align the drill to hole again before drilling, if correct; then start drilling



Test fit the drilled hole with the action base



Drill the other hole and test fit it all together



Remove the stand, sweep off any dust with a duster



Remove all the standoffs, It's TIME TO PEEL OFF THE PROTECTIVE PAPER!!!!









KEEP PEELING till it's off, do the same for the other one!



Reattach all the standoffs :) with black acrylic on bottom and clear on top ~



Test fit the stand again! Then stand back and enjoy it for a few mins
before cleaning off the trapped dust inside.



Get your micro-fibre cloth ready



Wipe it around the surface, detach and wipe the insides then reattach everything after cleaning





Next we will learn how to further clean, polish and prevent dust for your acrylic base...



7: Polish the acrylic

This part will teach you to further remove dust and prevent it with a coat of anti-static chemical at the same time-making the acrylic really have that shiny and reflective look.

You will need Plexus Plastic Cleaner, Protectant and Polish Spray or similar brand and a micro-fibre cloth.



^ Plexus Plastic Cleaner Protectant and Polish Spray ^

This cleans, protects from dust and polishes the acrylic all at the same time



^ Micro-fibre cloth ^

This is a dust magnet :)



Wipe all the acrylic surfaces with the micro-fibre cloth,
this step will remove most of the dust but won't prevent it.



After wiping with micro-fibre cloth, shake your plexus plastic cleaner spray,
then spray once-twice onto the acrylic surface, don't hold the nozzle, just press it.



^ After spraying ^



After spraying, wipe it again with the micro-fibre cloth but use a cleaner side.



Repeat with all other surfaces, that's all there is for applying this spray, no special tricks to it.



After wiping all the surfaces, you should be able to see your reflection in the acrylic clearly :)



Reattach the standoffs and action base



Remount your Gundam and enjoy it for the time being :)

until we move on to image transferring to acrylic... 



End of Part 1~

You should have something that looks like this-



We will learn how to transfer some artwork onto acrylic in part 2



Part 2-Image Transfer to Acrylic Display Base

1: What you need for image transferring to acrylic



^ An Image Printed from a Laser Printer or Photocopier ^

(Must be toner printed or from photocopier, no inkjets)



^ Polymer Fluid Medium (AKA Acrylic Gloss Medium) or Fluid Matte Medium ^

Use Gloss Medium if you're transferring to clear acrylic, if solid acrylic use Fluid Matte Medium

This liquid acts as a glue to bond images to acrylic, it retains the ink but discards the white paper when rubbed

Find it in local art stores



^ An flat plastic spreader blade or squeegee or paint roller ^

(This is used to spread the image to the medium evenly when transferring to prevent air bubbles)



^ Water Spray Bottle ^

(Mine is mini version, you can use whatever size as long as it functions the same)



Soft Sponge (Dishwashing type)

For removing excess white last ply of paper in image transfer method 2



^ Foam Brushes or Soft Bristle Synthetic Paint Brushes ^

For spreading the fluid medium evenly on acrylic

I use foam brushes because I hate bristles falling off and brush marks on normal brushes,
alternatively you can use synthetic brushes, their bristles don't fall off and leaves no brush marks.



2: Transferring your image; Method 1 - Using fluid mediums: Cut and Paste

For this method, we will use fluid mediums as a glue to stick our image to the acrylic, this method is good for large images that is a whole, not complex in shapes. 



Remove your gundam from your acrylic base, put the beast back to action base temporary



Remove the standoffs on your acrylic



Take apart your acrylic, you'll only need the clear one



Flip your Clear Acrylic over to the inside, you will be applying the fluid medium here



Cut your image with scissors (sorry didn't list it in "what you need" before),
cut off all the excess white parts



Figure out where to position your image, on where the transfer will go. 



After you figure out where to position your image, place your acrylic on top some cloth
to prevent fluid mediums going onto your table



Get your brush ready!



Pour some fluid medium onto the clear acrylic in the frame of the image below- about the size of a pancake or less, depending on the size of your image



^ Like Above ^



Spread it evenly with your brush, ensure there's no brush marks,
or else it will dry and show up in the finish



Carefully place the image onto the spreaded fluid medium with edges first



^ Like above ^



Use your flat plastic blade or a paint roller and spread on the paper numerous times lightly to get rid of any air bubbles 



Leave it to dry about 30-45 mins before assembling the base together again



Put the clear acrylic back on top with the black acrylic



Mount the standoffs back into the 4 holes then you're done!


Sit back and admire your custom display base!


End of Part 2: Method 1



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