Basics: Project 135h
Project name: How to add logo or image on the PCB board silkscreen layer in KiCad v5
Tags: KiCad, KiCad v5, logo on PCB board, image on PCB board, front silkscreen layer, back silkscreen layer
We will learn how to add logo or image on the PCB board silkscreen layer in KiCad v5.
For this DIY project you need three open source tools:
- Inkscape (version 1.0.2, to create logo/image and save it as SVG image)
- Gimp (version 2.10.24, to convert SVG image to bitmap)
- KiCad (version 5, we assume that you have it already installed, to convert bitmap to component)
What is Inkscape?
Inkscape is a Free and open source vector graphics editor for GNU/Linux, Windows and MacOS X. It offers a rich set of features and is widely used for both artistic and technical illustrations such as cartoons, clip art, logos, typography, diagramming and flowcharting. It uses vector graphics to allow for sharp printouts and renderings at unlimited resolution and is not bound to a fixed number of pixels like raster graphics. Inkscape uses the standardized SVG file format as its main format, which is supported by many other applications including web browsers.
It can import and export various file formats, including SVG, AI, EPS, PDF, PS and PNG. It has a comprehensive feature set, a simple interface, multi-lingual support and is designed to be extensible; users can customize Inkscape’s functionality with add-ons.
What is Gimp?
GIMP is a cross-platform image editor available for GNU/Linux, OS X, Windows and more operating systems. It is free software, you can change its source code and distribute your changes.
Whether you are a graphic designer, photographer, illustrator, or scientist, GIMP provides you with sophisticated tools to get your job done.
What is KiCad?
KiCad is a open source, easy to download software that is used for electronic design automation (EDA) and computer-aided design (CAD). While using this program, PCB design schematics can be realized from their electrical circuits. Within, there are tools that allow the creation of a bill of materials (BOM), artwork, 3D view of the PCB + components and Gerber files. From the workflow of KiCad working process, kiCad offers using of import or export methods to make the process of doing the project easier by adding done and completed projects or components and just modifying on them then export them to the wanted file extension.
KiCAD offers us a feature to add customised logos/images on the front (top) of the PCB board silkscreen (F.SilkS) and back (bottom) of the PCB board silkscreen (B.SilkS).
Step by Step instruction
1.Creating your logo or image in Inkscape.
1.First of all we need to create the logo/image in SVG format. The next step is conversion of the SVG image to a bitmap and conversion of the bitmap to a component.
3. Double-click on Inkscape shortcut to open the program. Make your logo now. Please note that the image must be black and white with white background and without the colors mirrored, it is a good practice to have a large image and then scale it down to prevent any detail losses. The larger your image / logo design, the best results will be when it’s converted to bitmap.
4. Go to File -> Save As… or press Ctrl+Shift+S on your keyboard. Give it a name, select the Inkscape SVG format and click on Save button.
6. Double-click on gimp shortcut to open it.
7. Go to File ->Open or press Ctrl+O on your keyboard to open your SVG file. Select file and click on Open button.
8. A window will pop out asking you for some parameters. Use default settings and click on OK button. Please note that you can not edit any of them. If you do, you’ll change the size and proportions of your image. Also, if your drawing don’t have paths, then don’t select the Import paths option; otherwise you’ll get an error.
9. You image / logo designed imported to the program now.
10. To convert your image / logo to bitmap you need to export it. Go to File -> Export As… or press Shift+Ctrl+E. Choose the new format – Windows BMP file and click on Export button. When the Export image as BMP window pops up, choose 24 bit color, Do not write color space information and click on Export button. If you failed at the bit color depth (for example, you choose any of the 32 bits options) the KiCAD’s Bitmap to Component Converter tool won’t be able to load your bitmap image.
11. That’s it with GIMP. You can close it now. We assume that you have the KiCad v5 installed. Double-click on KiCad shortcut.
12. Click on PCB layout editor (Pcbnew) button. When Pcbnew window pops up with your PCB board click on Add dimension button. Bring the cursor and click with mouse on top left corner of your PCB board. The click on the bottom left corner of your PCB board. Move the cursor to the left and click with the mouse. Do the same with other dimension.
13. Go to File ->Save or press Ctrl+S on your keyboard to save the changes.
13. Click on Bitmap to Component Converter button in KiCad project manager. When Bitmap to Component Converter window pops up click on Load Bitmap button.
13. Don’t worry if the image doesn’t show fully. In order to scale the image to the proper size for your PCB board, you need to adjust the Resolution setting which is on the top of Load Bitmap button. The larger resolution, the smaller will be component’s size on the PCB board. Our PCB board size is 15.240 mm x 17.780 mm. Our DPI will be around 1800-1900. Choose in the Format field –Pcbnew (.kicad_mod file), choose Front silk screen in Board Layer for Outline field. As our bitmap image is almost perfect, a Black / White Threshold in the Image options with value 50 is good; otherwise you need to adjust it until you see the image converted when the Black&White Picture tab chosen. Make sure that Negative box is not ticked off. The results would be far different from your expectations. Click on Export button and save your new component to a folder in which you can retrieve it as part of some of your own components library.
14. Close the Bitmap to Component Converter tool. Click on Footprint Editor button in the KiCad project manager.
15. Go to File -> Import Footprint from KiCad File… Select previously saved footprint file and click on Open button.
16. Your logo / image will be loaded into the Footprint Editor.
17. Go to File -> Save As… or press Ctrl+Shift+S on your keyboard. You can change the name and then select the library where you want to save your new logo, for example, Symbol and click on Save button.
18. Close the Footprint Editor tool. Click the PCB Layout Editor (Pcbnew) in the KiCad project manager.
19. Select the layer where your image / logo will be placed. First of all we will show you how to place logo / image on Front (top) silkscreen layer of your PCB board (F.SilkS). Select F.SilkS layer in the Layers of the Layers Manager field.
20. Click on Add footprints icon.
21. Bring your cursor to place where you are going to insert the image / logo on your PCB board. Click with mouse. Select your logo /image (we have acoptexlogo) footprint from Symbol library and click on OK button.
22. Move cursor with your image / logo to proper place and click with mouse. That’s it.
23. Go to View -> 3D Viewer to check the 3D model of your board. As you can see we do not have enough space to put our label on front (top) silkscreen layer (FSilkS). We will show you how to put your logo/image on another layer – back (bottom) silkscreen layer (B.SilkS) now.
24. Let’s remove the logo / image from the PCB board. Click on Select Item icon. Click with mouse on your logo/image. It will be selected. You can move it if you press M on your keyboard. You can rotate it if you press R on your keyboard. Press Backspace on your keyboard to delete it or press the right button of your mouse when cursor is over the logo / image – select Delete.
25. Select back (bottom) silkscreen layer (B.SilkS) in the Layers of the Layers Manager field now.
26. Click on Add footprints icon.
27. Bring your cursor to place where you are going to insert the image / logo on your PCB board. Click with mouse. Select your logo /image (we have acoptexlogo) footprint from Symbol library and click on OK button.
28. Move cursor with your image / logo to proper place. You can rotate it if you press R on your keyboard. You can flip it if you press F on your keyboard. So, we pressed R twice and F once. Click with mouse. That’s it.
29. Go to View -> 3D Viewer to check the 3D model of your board.
30. Go to File -> Save or press Ctrl+S on your keyboard to save your PCB board layout.
We have learnt how to add logo or image on the PCB board in KiCad v5.
Thank you for reading and supporting us.
- See attachments on the beginning of this project description.