Twisted metal

The second name panel I would create for the Sign Magic Workshop was for Doug from Illinois. I knew he was into rusty, weathered (faux) metal and rivets. I also knew he claimed to be a member of the “Blind Magicians of the Orient.” I would combine these two ideas into one name plaque. The premise of the piece is that it is an old piece of a ship wreck, salvaged from the deep. The name of the ship is ‘DOUG’ of course. A few of the rivets on the slightly stressed and twisted metal are missing. But if you take into account the clues above namely ‘Blind Magicians’ you will notice the triple row of rivets spell out MAGIC in braille.
This vector file was relatively simple, comprised of two panels, a triple row of rivets, and the lettering. It only took minutes to create. I then created simple reliefs in EnRoute adding a simple fade/blend bitmap to create the twist in the metal.
Then I used a second bitmap file from my collection called Splotches 2 which creates a deeply pitted look to faux metal.
The rivets were simple rounded reliefs. The missing reliefs were done as zero height reliefs which effectively drilled holes when I merged lowest with the main relief. The lettering was a simple 0.2″ tall relief.
The file was tool pathed with a rough cut using a 3/8″ ball nose bit and the final pass was done with a 80% overlap using a 1/8″ ball nose bit. As the MultiCam churned away I was back to my desk with another inspiration for the next panel…

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Dan Sawatzky

Dan Sawatzky is best described as a creative force in the sign industry. He and his wife Janis are owners of Sawatzky’s Imagination Corporation – a small family company that specializes in the design and creation of dimensional theme signs and environments. They tackle projects of any size from small signs to entire theme parks. Their work has garnered numerous international awards and Dan’s articles appear frequently in the sign trade publications. Dan and his crew also host Sign Magic and Sculpting Workshops in their studio a number of times each year with attendees coming from around the world. For more information please visit

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