Color Filling Guide

18th May 2023

Color Filling Guide

Color filling awards and personalization items adds interest and value to the finished piece. Sublimation and screen printing are other common options for coloring glass, but paint filling etched or sandcarved glass has a higher perceived value due to the 3D effect it creates when you back blast on clear glass, so use your process to your advantage. Below we walk you through how to get the most out of this process and how to expand your business to include this decorative finish on your sandcarved pieces.

Things To Keep In Mind When Color Filling

Substrates: Color filling works great on glass and will elevate any award to the next level. You can also try it on wood, ceramic, metal and stone.

Color Choices: You do not need to offer every color under the sun. Start with just a few of the basics like gold, silver, black and white. Having a wide variety of colors can create more work and issues, which is not good for production or your bottom line.

What Paint To Use: Oil based paints and water based paints both have their advantages and disadvantages. We have used both Rust-oleum and Rub-n-Buff oil based paints as well as Krylon Professional Paints water based paint for color filling.

Application Options: We recommend an air brush or camel hair paintbrush (if painting by hand) for application. You can also use spray paint, paint pens, or Rub-n-Buff. Find out what look your customers are looking for. Most production shops we visit use water based paints, Rub-n-Buff, acrylic markers, and other easy methods because their customers are not very picky. Do you want to go with the flow or find a new niche for your market? For example, if you want to charge the same but add color filling to the mix, then use water based paints and paint markers, which are the cheaper option for paint filling.

Air Brush Tip: Using an air brush will give you a nice even finish and is easy to apply. Get an air brush for each color offered so you do not need to change out colors and clean as often. Benefits of air brushing are that it can be applied on vertical pieces, it has a professional look, and it will use less paint than other alternatives.

Photoresist Film: We recommend using either our UltraPeel wet process film or our RapidMask dry process film for color filling. You want something that will hold up to a deeper etch when sandcarving, as well as something that will be easy to peel after the paint dries.

Sandcarver & Grit: Any of our CrystalBlast sandcarving machines work great for color filling. We recommend 120-150 grit silicon carbide if you will be color filling with an oil based enamel paint, or 180-220 grit if you will be color filling with a water based enamel paint.

What To Charge: $75.00 per hour is average for paint fill artists. For example, if you paint fill 12 pieces per hour it would add about $6.25 to each piece. Charge more depending on how many colors are used. You can also price by square inch (of paint area), which is more common for smaller shops. For example, .20 more for one color, .50 for two colors, 1.00 for 3 or more colors added. Keep in mind that a reverse etch uses more paint and has a higher perceived value, so if you are doing a reverse etch you can charge more.

Artwork for Color Filling

Make sure artwork is at least 2 point line thickness. You need to create a “pool” for the paint to fill up. If your etch is not deep enough you may have trouble getting the paint to set in correctly. Here are two ways to tell if you blasted deep enough for a pool:

  1. Look for a dark shadow around the outline of the letter or image. This is a good indication and easily seen in white light.
  2. Use your fingernail and rub up to the edge of the blasted area. If your fingernail stops without affecting the mask it is deep enough. If you affect the mask by tearing it or pushing it your blast is not deep enough.

If you did not etch deep enough, you might lose some paint when you peel up the mask. No problem. Just put a dab of paint in the area, let dry, then scrap off excess paint with sharp razor blade.

Contact IKONICS Imaging

If you have any additional questions about color filling, please contact our support team today.