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  2. DIY Gobos

While the results will not be quite as good as a stock or custom gobo manufactured by Gam, Rosco, Apollo, Lee, or Goboman, homemade gobos can be satisfactory when time or budget does not allow the purchase of manufactured units.


There are many methods for making your own Gobos, here are some suggestions I found on CB. Please also bear in mind that making your own gobos, especially when using acid is dangerous. Please also beware that when using your home made gobos that they can snag and get caught inside the gate of your fixture.

Soundman suggested this method:
Basic gobos can be easily made out of disposable cookie sheets cut with a hobbie knife or a razor. Anything with a lot of detail will be hard be hand.
Footer suggested doing this with Radiator Grate, but this limits you the the shapes they come in. Some examples of available ones are:


Quaterfront gave some advice on how to & why not to, make your own acid sketch gobos.
Back in the dark ages, before you could just Photoshop your gobo up and email it off to Rosco/Apollo/Gobos-R-Us, I did some acid bath etching. I was rarely happy with the results. The process was balky, and moreover it was messy enough that I never could justify going to the trouble of refining it, particularly with regard to the ratio of water to acid in the etching bath.

Now, the acid I was using wasn't a professional etching compound, it was just hardware store stuff. I won't bother naming the acid I used because I think you should choose not to bother attempting to do this process, but to satisfy any curiosity you might have, and to convince you that this is a boondoggle....

The basic procedure was to get old aluminium printers plate, sand any coating off of both sides, draw your design on the plate with pencil or fine point sharpie or whatever, then coat the entire sheet with clear acrylic spray paint. Next, you'd take an exacto knife and cut your pattern through the acrylic. Finally, you'd immerse the plate in a bath of acid and water and let it burn through the metal where you'd cut the acrylic layer.

The big problem was that if the acid was too strong (or the plate was too thick) the acid would etch sideways under the paint, not just straight through the metal. So the lines wouldn't be nice and sharp, they'd have pits and bumps and such. And, the paint had a tendency to peel up off the metal if you didn't prep everything just so, or maybe even if you did.

But the biggest problems, and these are substantial, have been mentioned above in this thread: 1) You're working with nasty toxic stuff, and 2) what do you do with the used acid? The fumes coming off the bath were definitely in the "DON'T INHALE ANY OF THIS EVER" category, and when you're done with the stuff you can't just dump it down the drain. You don't want to spill it on yourself, you don't want to spill it on your kid brother, you don't want to spill it on anything, which begs the question, "Where do I dump this out?".

What I'm trying to communicate is this: Back in the day, before commercial custom gobo fabrication was a matter of 20 minutes in PhotoShop, one email and a small fee, as a young and intrepid LD I felt pretty darn proud of myself that I could burn a mediocre gobo on the concrete slab outside my garage. It was slick and clever and I felt like a cowboy. Woo woo. But at the end of the day, the gobos I made sucked, even by the standards of that time; and the process of producing those lousy gobos that sucked was dirty, hazardous to my health and environmentally irresponsible.

Stick with cutting foil cookie sheets with an exacto or move up to having gobos etched by a shop like Apollo that's set up to handle the process safely and cleanly. The "etch it yourself" option is a really lousy in-between kludge option that you should kybosh.
Please if you do try this, remember to wear all the necessary PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) before attempting this, and make sure it is done in a well ventilated area. Please also dispose of the acid in the correct way by phoning your local council and finding out the correct procedure for disposing of the acid and you try this at your own risk. As you have probably guessed, it is a lot of hassle to make your own.

quarterfront also mentioned that Apollo will make your custom metal gobos for around $60 (US) so maybe if you are spending hours and hours on this, you may be able to buy them cheaper.

Please add your ideas of material to make D-I-Y gobos from below:
Pie tin
Cookie sheet
Pizza pan
"Flashing"... in the roofing department at your hardware store comes in 20' rolls as well as small squares

Another option is the Rosco Image Pro but this product has some major downsides. As it goes in the iris slot you may not get the crispness that you are looking for. The image can only be keystoned on the computer and therefore the light must be directly in front of whatever it is projecting onto.

[imgl]http://www.seleconlight.com/images/stories/Anew/features/pac_heat_diagram.gif[/imgl]Another option is to use a Selecon Pacific. The Pacific range has a specialized cooling system that means that the gate of the fixture stays relatively cool, allowing gobos to be printed, via inkjet or laser printer, onto Overhead Projector transparency media, and then inserted into the fixture. The procedure is rather simple, make sure the fixture is using the blue base (not red) make your gobo on the computer, print it off to the size gobo you desire, place it into the Plastic Image Projection holder (Normal gobo holders will not hold them) and place it into the gate of your fixture. More detailed instructions can be found on this page of the Selecon website. As with the Rosco Image Pro the image can only be keystoned on the computer and therefore the light must be directly in front of whatever it is projecting onto.





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Another option that has been recommended; if you wish to have images, or colorful patterns, but don't have access to a glass gobo, Pacific, or Ipro, then consider using a projector, this can work very well especially if rear projecting.



Images of Radiator Grate from McNichols
Image of Selecon Pacifc cooling system from SeleconLight

Original posts are:
Making your own Gobos
Home Made Gobos
Gobos how to make

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