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Thread: Guide to re-creating a backglass or translite

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    Guide to re-creating a backglass or translite

    This has been done piecemeal in the past, I?ve decided to collate all information here under one sticky as a resource for anyone interested.

    It is intended to be a guide and advisory resource to connect you with others who have already re-created a backglass or translite, to share your knowledge and skills.

    No copyright infringement intended.

    As other people re-create backglasses or translites, I'll add them to the list of people who may be able to assist other members:

    User/Machine - Man. - Created as

    Darksoul
    Pinball Pool - Gottlieb - Backglass
    Superman - Atari - Backglass
    Kiss - Bally - Backglass
    Gorgar - Williams - Backglass
    Lost World - Bally - Translite



    INTRODUCTION

    One of the biggest bugbears of owing solid state (SS) machines and electromechanical (EM) machines is the eternal search for a backglass in any condition let alone good condition. Backglasses were made by screen printing ink onto the rear of the glass. Heat from the globes behind the backglass often damage the paint as does repeated careless removal of the backglass from the machine.

    Thankfully most translites are still easily available, though sometimes expensive. These can also re reproduced.

    Backglasses can also be re-created as a translite. Though not as original, they are often of a reasonable quality and will satisfy many owners with a bit of additonal effort.


    PART 1 ? RE-CREATING A BACKGLASS

    SCANNING THE ORIGINAL

    Backglass scanning poses some difficulties. The image on a glass is screened on the rear, about 3-4 mm below the front surface. Two options are available:

    1) HP4600/4670 scanner ? An A4 size scanner that I use at home. No longer made but often comes up on eBay. Has no ?lip? where the plastic surround meets the scanning bed. It can be placed flush against a surface. Ideal for scanning plastics, playfields or translites. Still has the issue of 3-4mm thick glass when scanning a backglass. This will lead to the A4 scans which you will have to stitch together being slightly blurry on edge detail. You will have to touch this up with artwork programs, taking anywhere from a few to many hours.

    2) Large format scanner ? take your glass to a copier or printing shop. Have them scan it in one pass. Many stores now have large scanners that can adjust scan depth, commonly known as ?depth of field? to overcome the fact the image is 3-4mm deep behind the glass. One pass, one file, quick, no stitching.

    I?d suggest scanning at 300dpi. Below this level you start to lose fine detail, above this the file becomes huge. Use a non-lossy file format like BMP or TIFF for all your work. You will be doing many saves during your touchups, JPEG is no good as it is a ?lossy? format, the picture will degrade slightly with each save.

    Translites have few difficulties when it comes to scanning. Just remember it will most likely be cheaper or only cost a little more to buy an original if available. I?d suggest saving your time if this is the case.


    TOUCHING UP

    Any art program you are comfortable with. Photoshop series is most popular.
    If you have a backglass that is in poor condition but most of the detail is still there, congratulations! Touching up will be easy. Difficulties arise where you have pieces where the artwork is totally gone, either flaked or scraped off.

    If this is the case, I can only suggest you either work from images you can find on the internet to ascertain the missing detail or shout out on a pinball forum for someone to send you a photo/image of the missing artwork.


    FILES NEEDED TO REPRODUCE A BACKGLASS

    Now comes the tricky part.
    You are going to have to use your complete image to produce several files.

    Most EM backglasses are generally a lot easier to reproduce for one reason. They have no chrome. Most SS backglasses have blingy chrome on them, adding some more complexity to their reproduction. However, a chrome layer can also be used as a ?mask? at the same time.

    We need 3 files to accurately produce a backglass:

    A) Colour layer ? self explanatory. This layer holds most of what you see when you look at the image.

    B) White translucent layer ? this vinyl layer has the effect of smoothing out the light from the globes in the backbox, giving you an even spread of light rather than concentrated points of light. Take a look on your old backglass, those areas that allow light through will have a whitish layer over them. This is what we are trying to emulate. The concept is similar to a lightbox used by artists and for advertising signs.

    This file will need to be converted to a vector format that can be read by a vinyl cutting machine such as EPS.

    C) Chrome layer ? this vinyl layer can serve two purposes. Firstly as the layer to block areas that do not have light coming through them and/or secondly to emulate those areas of chrome you often see in many SS backglasses from the front.

    This file will need to be converted to a vector format that can be read by a vinyl cutting machine such as EPS.

    There are two ways of laying the image down on the glass (I prefer polycarb as it will not break) either on the front of the glass or on the rear of the glass. I have generally used the rear of the glass which requires you to reverse the images so the writing will be in reverse.

    I?ll use an example of laying down from the front to keep the explanations simple. The order of the layers when laying from the front will be polycarb on the bottom, layer C (chrome), layer B (translucent white), with the top layer being layer A (colour)

    Using my Gorgar backglass as an example. My original glass was in terrible condition and I was unable to source a reasonable glass locally.

    Note the chrome around the demon and around the word ?GORGAR?.

    gorgarfront.jpggorgarrear.jpg


    Here is the completed image after scanning and many hours of stitching and touching up.
    Any area that is to be chrome is now white in the file (around ?GORGAR?, demon etc) along with score windows etc. Dimensions of the image were checked multiple times to ensure the overall size and location of score windows are accurate. This is LAYER A (file A)

    gorgarcolor.jpg


    From LAYER A we now create the other two layers (translucent white and chrome layers).

    Layer C (Chrome). This layer sticks against the polycarb. Any area in grey (representing the chrome) will block the light, areas in white are cut out to allow light through. Remember this needs to be a vector format to be cut by the machine. Different backglasses have varying amounts of detail with regards to lighting and chrome effects. You may or may not be able to reproduce all of them. Very detailed effects may be almost impossible to replicate. I decided to remove some of the more detailed areas on my backglass for ease of printing and cutting by my printer. You may need to discuss this with your printer.

    chromelayer.jpg


    Layer B (translucent white). This layer is stuck down on top of the chrome layer (Layer C). The image below is a negative, so think that the black is the uncut white vinyl, and the white areas are cut out and discarded. Where the cut out areas are the same as the chrome layer (layer C), you can see right through to the polycarb. Where the cut out areas don?t align with those in layer C, you will see chrome.

    whiteeps.jpg


    Layer A (colour). This layer is printed on a clear adhesive vinyl and is stuck down on top of the white layer (Layer B). Those areas with no printing on them (score windows etc) will show whatever is behind the colour image as it is clear, whether that be chrome (around ?GORGAR? etc), white vinyl around ?1st? or straight through to the score displays.

    Here is the completed file, assembled in the backbox.

    gorgarlight.jpg


    And with the lights off. Colours are a little washed out. There are several solutions to this problem. Have the printer double print/double strike the image (lay down two layers of ink on the image), replace #44 globes with dimmer #47 globes or a mix of LEDs, use a less translucent white layer.

    gorgar dark.jpg


    PART 2 ? RE-CREATING A BACKGLASS AS A TRANSLITE


    Printing a backglass as a translite offers a quicker solution, lower cost and less work but also means a loss of accuracy as compared to an original backglass. However, it is a reasonable alternative and better than nothing.

    After buying a Bally Lost World interstate it arrived with a smashed backglass. I was unable to locate another backglass despite several years of searching. Eventually another Lost World came up locally that I bought. This had a backglass, in poor condition. Once again, a decent glass was nowhere to be found.

    I decided to see how it would look as a translite rather than backglass. Here is a completed scan of Lost World, printed on similar substrate as that used on modern translites.

    lw trans1.jpg


    Trimmed to size, it is sandwiched between 2 sheets of 2mm polycarb. With a bit of ambient illumination in the room it looks OK. However, all areas of the translite light up, just like a modern translite.

    lw trans2.jpg


    Difficulties with a backglass such as Lost World is the intricate detail and scroll work in the mask that allows light through the front. The white areas on the rear of the glass show just how detailed it is.

    aIMG_0785.jpg


    As a proof of concept I bought some thin posterboard from Officeworks, re-printed the backglass in very light grey (for tracing). Out with the hobby knife and start cutting. Objective is to create a screen mask that will somewhat imitate what the original backglass looked like. A lot of the fiddly work was left out obviously.

    lw trans5.jpg


    Behold, the final image. Tail area not completed in this shot, but you end up with a reasonable "backglass" that you would otherwise not likely be able to source for this machine. I may leave it as is, or work with the original image to supply the printer with a file that can be cut out on a cutter/plotter machine to give a more accurate screen mask. Still looks slightly washed out but not as much as it appears to be in the pic, but it is OK.

    lw trans4.jpg
    Last edited by Darksoul; 11th October 2013 at 08:12 AM.

  2. #2
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    Great read mate, pretty soon you will have given away all of your secrets
    Dave
    ************************************************** *******************
    Remember--The early bird catches the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese!

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    Quote Originally Posted by furballx View Post
    Great read mate, pretty soon you will have given away all of your secrets
    Dave
    The more pins we can resurrect the better. If more people keep getting into the hobby (as appears to be happening), we need to increase the numbers available.
    If we don't, it will become just that little bit harder to get machines in the long run.

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    Lots of this went way over my head having never done anything like it before but by just reading it is a start to know it's possible.
    I applaud your attitude in sharing this knowledge and any other pinball or arcade related knowledge and do also agree that by sharing knowledge can only be a good thing for the hobbie as whole. As an example in the past three or so years that I have been involved in the hobbie I have owned and restored over ten machines and would have kept them all if I had the space. I do what I can but then also engage with the pros to help out when Iam at my limit of understanding and so have provided lots of work for techs and spent lots of cash at pinball parts supplier both here and os. Have sold a few pins to friends that might not of otherwise even considered owning one and to other first pinball buyers as well always with the offer to contact me if there is any problems to see if I might be able to help in some way. So thanks Darksoul and to others like yourself for taking the time to help out/provide information it is much appreciated.

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    Great guide thanks for sharing


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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    Thanks Brad. I now have a Lost world that needs a BG. I have a plan A already but your method will be plan B for sure.

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    Amazing post. I have been working on a few custom ones and will continue to post here as I find someone that can screen. The problem is if you are going to do one you kind have to do 20-30 to make it worth while. Looking at work from http://www.bholderman.com it's possible, just have to find the right people.

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    Quote Originally Posted by puck View Post
    Amazing post. I have been working on a few custom ones and will continue to post here as I find someone that can screen. The problem is if you are going to do one you kind have to do 20-30 to make it worth while. Looking at work from http://www.bholderman.com it's possible, just have to find the right people.
    to AA.

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    Quote Originally Posted by toads View Post
    to AA.
    Thanks Toads.

    I also have spend lots of time and money to find the right paper to print on for inkjet transites that have a good balance of color saturation and light diffusion. If anyone is interested I can put that up here.


    Sent from my iPad using Aussie Arcade

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    Quote Originally Posted by puck View Post
    Thanks Toads.

    I also have spend lots of time and money to find the right paper to print on for inkjet transites that have a good balance of color saturation and light diffusion. If anyone is interested I can put that up here.


    Sent from my iPad using Aussie Arcade
    Looking to do a few translites more than likely paying a printing shop. What is the best materials I can suggest to them to use thanks?


    Sent from my iPad using Aussie Arcade


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