Art takes many forms. For some, seeing art on printed circuit boards (PCBs) has particular appeal, bridging the design and the geekiness of circuit boards.

While several folks have published methods of transferring their art to PCBs, some guides use software that is out of date or requires a high level of technical skill. This guide uses the latest versions of popular software, so hopefully it will get you started without too much of a learning curve! 

Software

KiCad Version 7.x - KiCad 7 is the latest iteration of the venerable PCB design software. It came out in February, 2023, and so other tutorials using earlier versions are likely out of date as to the steps used to make art. For this tutorial, KiCad 7 is used to import art into a component footprint which is used to define the board files for the PCB manufacturer. The software is free - a donation is requested to keep development going.

Gingerbread - a web-based tool hosted on Winterbloom by Thea Flowers. Taking a specially formatted vector file SVG, Gingerbread parses the file into the footprint layers. The results can be pasted into the KiCad footprint editor to make the art into a PCB. The author notes: "This tool is extremely tailored to Winterbloom's needs. It's not perfect, it's not universal, and it probably won't work the way you think it will. Because of this, it comes with no warranty and no promise of support - again, we won't be providing any free support for this." The code is on GitHub and the GitHub repo notes other similar programs. Free to use without support.

Affinity Designer 2 - used to make SVG files that Gingerbread accepts. Similar programs are Adobe Illustrator and Inkscape, but they may not produce the precise type of file Gingerbread accepts, so substitution would be the user's choice (without support). $70 and there is a free 30 day version that has all the features needed.

This guide was first published on Apr 28, 2023. It was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

This page (Overview) was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

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