1HDC 09.01 - Discussion Forum

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Laser-cut Grip Tape Inlay for a Longboard!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

After a string of increasingly complex 1HDCs we figure it’s time for a simpler task: make a graphic for a longboard skateboard! The twist here is that the design will be produced by laser-cutting grip tape for use on the top of the board (not the customary printing of a design on the underside of the board).

There’s also a functional element to consider with this one. Grip tape coverage of the top of the board has to be pretty complete, especially since grip-tape (aka sticky-backed 80-grit sandpaper) is what keeps the board attached to one’s feet, or vice-versa.

This is where the inlay technique comes in. Both black and clear rolls of tape are available to be laser-cut for your design, so you have two colors to play with: a positive and a negative; a foreground and a background. Laser-precision and computer control means that these two colors can be perfectly inlaid with each other for a seamless expanse of grip across the board. That said, please keep in mind that you should keep your design simple. Remember that the elements of your design (the individual pieces of laser-cut grip tape) will be applied to the board “by hand,” so tiny, very complex pieces will be impossible to execute.

Not that you have to go for this full coverage: if you have some super-cool pattern that could do with a little grip-free room to breath, then go for it. Just remember that tape is there for a reason, so coverage needs to be fairly complete. (If you want specifics, let’s set the safety-bar at around 80% coverage minimum.)

This should be considered a freeform exercise in self-expression, styling, novelty and/or wit. Submit one or submit a dozen designs if you can! Three winners will get their designs cut by Ponoko and mounted on Bustin Boards skateboards, which will be theirs to keep!


  1. Download the skateboard deck template here: http://www.core77.com/competitions/1hdc/1hdc_griptape.psd
  2. Work your graphic magic on the indicated Photoshop layer
  3. Save your image as a jpeg and post it to the discussion forum

Winning designs will be made and promoted by Ponoko and applied to 3 sweet longboards provided by the folks at Bustin Boards, furnished with Randal trucks and Bustin Bocas wheels. We’ll then ship out the completed boards to the winners!

Designs must be black and clear only.

Participants must execute their design in only 1 hour, based on an honor system. If you’d like to submit more than 1 design, take an hour on each.

Winners will be selected by Dan Emery, designer from Ponoko, Ryan Daughtridge, founder of Bustin Boards, and representatives from Core77. Community discussion is encouraged to help ensure that the best designs win.

Judging will be based on graphic design excellence and strength of concept.

1st, 2nd, and 3rd place designs will receive their winning design laser cut by Ponoko and applied to a Bustin Board longboard! They will also be featured in the Core77 Newsletter, on the Core77 Blog, on the Ponoko blog and newsletter, and on the Bustin Boards website.

Good Luck!

Hey, just wondering if the ‘bustin’ logo’ can be moved around or if it has to remain where it is on the photoshop template?

You are free to move the logo.

I think that the PS template is pretty distracting to any design applied into the image. Is there
Any freedom to manipulate the background,lower logos, layout. While still keeping everything within the board/wheel border consistant of course. Anyone else feel the same way?

We have removed the Bustin logo from the template; it is not a requirement for your design. Also, please keep your graphics simple: Remember that the elements of your design (the individual pieces of laser-cut grip tape) will be applied to the board “by hand,” so tiny, very complex pieces will be impossible to execute. Sorry this wasn’t made clearer in the original brief–we’ll update it now.

Some questions-

You mention small pieces are hard to apply. Would the griptape not be applied similar to how cut vinyl graphics are applied with a semi-adhesive topsheet so that all spaces are preserved on application? If not, I don’t rally see the point of being able to do small bits on griptape with laser cutting if they can’t be applied…?

Also, are we to approach this more as a functional problem (ie. small pieces may look nice but would likely peel off easy), or a graphic one?

You also mentioned there is black and clear grip tape. If so, wouldn’t it be OK to have less than 80% coverage of the black (positive) tape, if the negative is clear griptape? Or am I misunderstanding it and the negative space is actually wood showing thru, not clear tape?

One further thing…What’s the deal with using other people’s graphics in the application? I would think this is a no-no (copyright infringement to say the least), but it does seem that several concepts grab a pic/illustration from the internet and stick it on… you might want to clarify this…

Good 1HDC BTW, I will for sure be entering a bunch!


I agree with Richard’s comments on logos outside those of the sponsors. Also, what about grabbing graphics off the net. I think some of the entries already are cut&paste vectors. Or maybe I need to spend more time with Illustrator!

I agree with the idea that using other’s logos is a no-no…but from a having fun and cool factor, I enjoy seeing them.

I expected a pretty decent turn out on this one…but man, this is out of control. I love it. Damn good stuff, it is going to be friggin’ impossible to judge this one…going to come down to a subjective “I like it or don’t” finish, methinks.

I like what’s going on with the consistency and the size of the output from the template. Please try and stay within these constraints.

I secretly want the Milwaukee logo board to win, even after I said logos shouldn’t be allowed hehe.

yeah, a lot of the entries seem to be just ‘oh here is a great picture, i’ll put it on’. Please clarify the rules for this one. I can see a flood of internet memes if this is not done. Also to echo rk’s q, how feasible is it to have lots of small pieces of different tapes? Having spent years riding a skateboard around, I can definitely say that this would NOT work. your shoes scuff the board (and vice versa) like nothing else.

This is difficult to pick i know, but just from a practicality viewpoint…

I dig benny’s male and female idea, i like the tux.

Hey all,
Great discussion, and there are some really impressive designs so early on. I just wanted to share my ideas and advice on this subject, as I have been an avid skateboarder for many years, and have hand cut many grip tape graphics by hand.

I have found that grip tape is some of the stickiest stuff out there, and when designing graphics, don’t worry about small pieces of tape falling or rubbing off, because they won’t.

That said, this is much like cutting vinyl graphics, so the weeding is the hardest and most time consuming part. When designing any stencil like this, you should be conscious of how many pieces of material there are. If you can connect the different pieces grip tape with solid lines or amalgamate the pieces somehow, it really helps. But at the same time, don’t compromise the graphics just to make it easier to apply.

The expressed concern on how to apply the more complicated designs onto the long-board makes me wonder why to create a competition where the designs will be laser cut, as this has the distinct advantage of being able to easily cut intricate graphics. But anyways, I love the competition, and will be submitting many I hope. Thanks!


Richard: Ce n’est pas une longboard :wink:

Magritte style :slight_smile: Did I get the french right? wasn’t sure if a longboard was a “un” or “une”, …


Richard: CORE77 08 BUSTIN, shouldn’t that be 09? :wink: You beat me to the barcode theme, was thinking about it all day during work! Need to move fast on this comp!

Your design with the coordinates is one of my favorites so far, along with benny’s tox and the philly blunt.

I’ve been chatting with Admin and here’s a couple things to keep in mind:

Branding is NOT mandatory. Feel free to keep any/all branding out of this competition.

Fine details are an issue from the perspective of quality of final product. At the end of the day, emphasis should be placed on graphic quality with an understanding that small details may lower your chances for winning.

Keep them coming, this is fun to watch!

Longboard is an anglicism, so it doesn’t matter if it is male of female.

The correct term for skateboard is une planche à roulettes.

oops. fixed that. thanks.


I think my fave so far is Hyma-Time’s evolution. I think Richard’s latest entry also catches the spirit of skateboarding very well.

I really feel sorry for IP and whoever else has to judge this. I don’t think I could only pick three, and we’re just starting!