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The design and development of deal toys can be a confusing process.  We use a lot of words you might not find in everyday conversations. Some terms are industry specific, while others are commonly used design, manufacturing and typographical terms. We want to be completely transparent and speak a common language.  It’s a fast paced, ever evolving field and we hope our lexicon can keep you up to date.

2D ETCHTechnique

Process using lasers to reproduce two-dimensional shapes and objects inside of crystal.  Works best on clear crystal.
*Does not work on lucite, acrylic or plexi.
Synonym: Inner etch


3D ETCHTechnique

Process using lasers to reproduce three-dimensional shapes and objects inside of crystal.  Utilizes custom digital 3D Models to capture complex 3D objects. Allows for high detail and customization. Works best on clear crystal. For best results the piece must be at least 1.5” thick.
*Does not work on acrylic or plexi.
Synonym: Inner etch


3D MODELTechnique 

Process of developing a fully dimensional digital model. Used for 3D etching, 3D printing and pewter. Our fully qualified staff of professional 3D artists can prepare a wide variety of fully custom 3D models for use in your next design. All designs at Buttonwood are presented in stunning life like 3D.
Synonym: Replica


3D PRINT Technique

Process that builds a three-dimensional object from a digital 3D model. This is usually done by successively adding material layer by layer.
Synonym: Additive manufacturing




ACETATE - Material

Transparent film can be embedded in acrylic. Film almost disappears once embedded, creating an impression of floating artwork or text. Can be frosted to produce a semi transparent effect, allowing the background to be partially visible while providing for more legible text.


ACRYLIC - Material

Transparent or opaque thermoplastic used to make mementos, tombstones and deal toys. Lightweight, shatter-resistant alternative to glass. Very versatile. Molds can be made for amazing custom shapes. Many objects and materials can be embedded. Available in any color. Can be translucent or solid or have granite and marble textures. Artwork onto can be screened onto the surfaces of acrylic and it can be painted with metallic and antiqued finishes.

Synonym: Poly(methyl methacrylate), acrylic glass
Trade names: Crylux, Plexiglas, Acrylite, Astariglas, Lucite, Perclax, and Perspex


ACRYSTONE - Material

Acrylic made to look like stone, granite or marble. 


AIFile Type

Abbreviation for Adobe Illustrator . The name also refers to the corresponding file format.

Synonym: Adobe Illustrator File


AIR BRUSHTechnique

Process using compressed air to spray paint. Allows for smooth surfaces and smooth blends without brush strokes. 



Metal sheet or plate with artwork screened or printed onto surface.  Can be cut into custom shapes, mounted on materials and embedded in acrylic.

Synonym: Metal Plate



Printing process where ink is transferred onto a material through mesh, the artwork or pattern is masked to form a design. One color is printed at a time, so multiple screens can be used to produce an image or design with more than one color.



Describes when artwork and text are not equally represented on both sides of a design. There is still balance, but it is achieved using symmetry.




A raster graphics image file format where each pixel (bit) is defined by a single color. All the bits combined together (map) make up the larger image. Quality decrease with size, dependent upon resolution. Raster image files are generally larger in size than vector graphic files. Most commonly used for high resolution photographs and images.

Common raster file formats are JPEG, PNG, GIF, and PSD.

Synonym: Raster Image

BEVEL Design Element 

Angled edge, with a varying surface widths from around 1/8” to 3/4” depending on design. 


BLEED Design Element

Describes when artwork extends past its printed edge so there’s no chance of white borders.

Synonym: Full Bleed


BRANDDesign Term

The overall impact produced by the collective contacts, feelings and influences of a customers cumulative interactions with a company.  Encapsulates a company’s values, vision and mission.  Visual identity is a representation of this.  A logo is not a brand.



The visual representation of your brand (see definition above) in a way that represents the values, content and ethos of the company. Including but not limited to: logos, packaging, websites, brochures, apps, letterhead, etc.


BRANDMARK - Design Term

A symbol used to represent a company, i.e. the NIKE Swoosh. Brandmarks are sometimes paired with a logotype, but not always.



COLOR PALETTEColor / Design Term

The range of colors used in a design. Consist of colors that work well together and are can be aesthetically pleasing. Color Palettes create consistency and evoke a specific feelings.



The intensity of a given color



In crystal designs it is a separate piece of colored crystal attached to the bottom of a larger piece of crystal. In acrylic it is poured or embedded acrylic. Can be straight or slanted.



Process where color is added to laser-engraved images or text. The color fills the engraved spaces. Used on crystal, metal and glass.



The degree of difference between two closely associated elements. Some common types of contrast are dark vs. light, thick vs. thin, rough vs. smooth, etc.


CMYK - Printing / Color Term

‘Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key’, is a printing color model. 

Synonym: Four Color Process


CRYSTAL - Material

A glass of superior quality.  The primary difference between crystal vs. glass is that crystal glass contains anywhere from 2–30% minerals (lead or lead-free). Can be colored, transparent or semi-transparent.

Trade names: Tombstone, Deal Toy, Memento, Corporate Gift


Lasers or sharp steel blades cut a specific shape from aluminum. Can have artwork surface printed as well.

Synonym: Cut Metal



DEAL TOY - Industry Term

Commemorate financial transactions closed by financial institutions, real estate and law firms. Typically made of crystal, acrylic, wood, metal and stone, or a combination of those materials.

Synonym: Tombstone, Corporate Gift, Deal Gift, Lucite®, Memento


DESIGN BRIEF - Design Term

A document used to outline the key elements and deliverables for creative work. It is a helpful document to reference throughout the design process and helps to focus and clarify the project as it evolves.



The use of lasers or sharp steel blades to cut custom shapes into and out of materials. Often used for paper, aluinum and brass. 



A CMYK printed sticker that can be wrapped around a material. Allows for artwork and test to be applied to rounded and other surfaces.



A high-resolution image printed on paper, film or a metal plate. Does not work for exact color matching.

Synonym: DP



A clear piece of film used for digitally printing artwork in CMYK. Can be embedded in clear acrylic.



This method is used to print text or images directly onto a flat surface. It can be done on Lucite, crystal, wood, or metal. 



A high-resolution digital print that is baked onto the surface of the piece. It often has a coating of white on the back to make it more opaque (direct surface print + white). A surface print cannot go all the way to the edge of a lucite—there needs to be a 1/32” tolerance on all sides.



A high-resolution digital decal that is baked onto the surface of a piece. It often has a coating of white on the back to make it more opaque (direct transfer print + white). Transfer prints can go all the way to the edges, which makes it more versatile than an embedded print or a Direct Surface Print. 


DPIDesign Term

Dots Per Inch, is a measure of print quality. For high-quality printing, a minimum of 300dpi is recommended.



EMBEDMENTDesign Element

The process of setting an object inside acrylic permanently. Acrylic  is poured completely over the object and then baked in high-temperature pressured ovens. An embedment creates the illusion that the object is floating inside the shape. Embedments can be metal (softer metals, like pewter, work best), wood, thermoplastic, or paper. Unusual items requested for embedment are subject to a factory test.


Engraving text or art into a material using a laser. Many different depths and textures of etch and high levels of detail can be achieved, including 2D and 3D etches which can depict objects “in the round” (limited to crystal). 
Synonym: Laser etch, laser engrave



A laser is used to engrave an area, usually text, which is then filled with color. Used on crystal, metal and glass.


EPSFile Type

EPS stands for Encapsulated Post Script. This is a resizable file format that is commonly used for vector designs. Due to its high quality, it’s commonly used with print elements such as logos, business cards or brochures.





FACETDesign Element

Refers to one of the flat “faces” of a diamond or cut crystal. 


FEASIBILITYDesign / Business Term 

The difficulty level of something being designed within realistic technical constraints, using available resources and budgetary limitations, inside a given timeline.



Minimalistic approach that focuses on simplicity, usability bright colors and two-dimensional illustrations. Features open space, crisp edges.


FONTTypography Term

A file for installing and using a set of type in a particular weight and style.


FONT FAMILYTypography Term

A typeface with multiple weights, that each have a font, as a group make up a font family.


FROST - Technique

Sand blasting or printing a thin coat of white ink that creates a semi-opaque effect on clear acrylic or glass.



Semi-opaque film can be embedded in acrylic. Produces a semi transparent effect, allowing the background to be partially visible while providing for more legible text.


This digital printing method is used on flat surfaces of either Lucite or crystal deal toys. The outcome is very similar to the sandblasting effect, which adds a frosted look to the piece. 





GOLDEN RATIO - Design Term

“Is a mathematical ratio that can be used to create visually-pleasing, organic-looking compositions. It’s commonly found in nature. It Describes the perfectly symmetrical relationship between two proportions. The golden ratio occurs with two objects which, once you divide the larger by the smaller, result in the number 1.6180. The most famous golden ratio is the golden rectangle, which can be split into a perfect square and a rectangle the same aspect ratio as the original rectangle.”

Synonym: The Golden Mean, The Golden Section

GRADIENT - Color Term

A gradual change in color from one color into another. Two common types of gradients are the linear gradient where each color sits on opposite sides of the frame, and a radial gradient where one color sits in the middle, and another at the edge.


GRID - Design Term

Helps designers arrange elements in a consistent way. Constructed from columns and rows. Can use symmetrical or asymmetrical balance.





HEX - Color Term
A hex is a six-digit number used predominantly in web documents to represent colors.





KERNING - Typography Term

The adjustment of space between two type characters. Meant to achieve a more proportional and pleasing balance of distance between each character.


KNOLLING - Design Term

The concept of arranging different objects so that they are at 90-degree angles from each other, then photographing them from above. Images often have a high contrast solid background.





LASER ETCH – Technique

A process used to engrave text or art into materials. Deep etch specifies a more dimensional etch. Multiple depths of etch can be used on the same piece. 

Synonym: Laser engrave, etch

LEADING - Typography Term

Line spacing, the vertical space between lines of text.

The adjustment of space between between lines of text. Meant to achieve a more proportional and pleasing balance of distance between lines of text. Term has it's origins in the  lead strips that were put between set lines of lead type, therefore it is pronounced "ledding".

LUCITE® - Material

Trade name used by Dupont for Acrylic. Transparent or opaque thermoplastic used to make mementos, tombstones and deal toys. Lightweight, shatter-resistant alternative to glass. Available in any PMS color as well as almost any translucent or solid shade and in granite and marble textures. You can embed many objects and materials, and screen artwork onto it’s surfaces. Can be painted to create metallic and antiqued finishes.  It can also be molded into custom shapes. “Lucite” is often used to describe deal toys in general.

Synonym: Acrylic, Poly(methyl methacrylate), acrylic glass






MARBLE - Material 

A hard form of limestone, can have mottlings or streaks of color. Comes in multiple colors and offers elegant appeal.  Text and artwork can be etched and color-filled.


METAL PLATE - Material

Aluminum or brass sheet or plate with artwork screened or printed onto surface.  Can be cut into custom shapes, mounted on materials and embedded in acrylic.

Synonym: Aluminum Plate



Process fro creating miniature metal objects and figurines. Can be used as an embedments, stand alone pieces and as accents. Usually made of a soft metal such as pewter, which can then be plated in different finishes and metal colors. 



A very shiny and reflective ink that creates a mirror when printed on acrylic or crystal. Sometimes used to hide glue when connecting two clear pieces of acrylic or crystal. 


MOCK-UP - Design Term

A mock-up is a real or digital model used to display and test early design ideas and see how they could look in the real world.


MONOCHROME - Design Term

A color scheme built out of only one color, including lighter and darker tones of that color.


MONOSPACE FONT - Typography Term

A font whose letters and characters each occupy the same amount of horizontal space






Unused space or white space.





OPACITY - Design Term

The degree of transparency an element has. The lower the opacity, the more transparent an element is.







A standardized collection of colors with numbers assigned to them so that designers, printers and manufacturers can be assured they are printing the exact color(s) required. 

Synonym: PMS, PMS Color


PDF - File Type

A PDF is a Portable Document Format developed by Adobe that can be universally downloaded and viewed by any computer. PDFs are most suitable for sharing previews of work and are universally viewable.


PEWTER - Material 

Metal miniatures with a gold or silver color finish, (and capable of withstanding the high temperatures of the autoclave process) that are commonly used as design elements inside deal toys. 



PHOTO ETCHTechnique 

Process in which a photo images is etched inside a piece of crystal.




Process in which a photo image covers one entire surface of a piece.



Acrylic sheets available in different thicknesses and many colors, including translucent and Pantone. Often laser-cut into shapes or used as embedments in acrylic. 

Synonym: Plexi


POINTS - Typography Term

A standard measurement in typography for length, leading, font size, or other units.



Type with spacing apportioned according to the shape and width of the character .


PROTOTYPE - Design Term

A mock-up or demo of what a product will look like often used to test a concept. Prototypes can be digital or physical. 


PROXIMITY - Design Term

The process of grouping related elements together in a design concept.

Proximity to can be used to create connections between elements. It can also be used to break organizational structure.






Pixel-based graphics, raster graphics are digital images composed of a grid of pixels. Quality decrease with size, dependent upon resolution. Raster image files are generally larger in size than vector graphic files. Most commonly used for high resolution photographs and images.

Common raster file formats are JPEG, PNG, GIF, and PSD.

Synonym: Bitmap


RESIN - Material

Generally refers to raw materials, such as polyethylene resin, polypropylene resin, polyester resin. Opaque plastic like substance that can be molded and painted. More detailed and accurate models can be made using resin. Used in high budget projects.



A radial design is one in which elements radiate from a central point, creating balance.


RESOLUTION - Imagery Term

The amount of detail an image has. Generally speaking, the higher your resolution, the better your images appear, and the more detail is rendered. Whereas lower resolution images or graphic tend to appear blurry, pixelated or muddy.


RGB - Color Term

‘Red, Green, Blue’ is a color model that is used for on-screen purposes. RGB is an additive color, meaning that when mixing colors, we start with black and end up with white as more color is added.


RULE OF THIRDS - Design Term

Rule of Thirds is a theory that if you divide your image with two vertical and two horizontal lines, the areas where your lines intersect will become focal points of your design.





SANDBLAST - Industry Term

Used to create a semi-opaque surface or frosted look on the surface of a clear piece. Occasionally used when the deal terms are printed on acetate, to make type more legible. 

Synonym: Frosted


SANDWICH PIECE - Industry Term

Design in which an element is placed between two separate pieces of material (usuaslly clear) connected by screws or magnets.


SANS SERIF TYPEFACE - Typography Term 

A typeface without the small decorative serif strokes. Sans serifs tend to look more modern, stylish, and cleaner than their serif counterparts.


SCALE - Design Term

The change of size of an object while keeping its shape and proportions intact. Large scale can create drama, and smaller scale can create fine detail.



Art that is printed directly onto the surface of the material. 

Synonym: Surface Print


SERIF  TYPEFACE - Typography Term 

A typeface with small decorative strokes (called ‘serifs’) found at the end of horizontal and vertical lines. Serif typefaces tend to look professional, authoritative, and traditional in appearance.



Spot color printing. Especially useful when exact colors need to be replicated, including Pantones. 

Synonym: Surface screen



Describes the style of designing a digital element to look like a replica of a physical object.



Licensed images created by a third party. Using stock images saves on the cost of a having a professional photo shoot.


STROKE - Design Term

The visual characteristic of a path or vector. 

Synonym: Line


STYLE GUIDE - Design Term

A set of standards for the design of anything related to a brand. Can include logos, web sites, letterhead, packaging, etc. Helps to ensure uniformity in style and formatting wherever the brand is used to ensure no dilution of that brand.

Synonym: Brand Guide


SURFACE PRINT - Industry Term

Art that is printed directly onto the surface of the material. 

Synonym: Screening


SVG - File Type

Scalable Vector Graphics.  Vector graphics file format.



Describes when all design elements are equally distributed on both sides of a central line.





TRACKING - Typography Term 

The space between letters. To track bodies of text, you are adjusting space between every letter in a word in order to change the density or appearance of a large block of type. Tracking is not to be confused with kerning. Kerning is the adjustment of space between individual pairs of letters.



A small copy of a larger image.



Rough drawings of potential design concepts or solutions. Used to visualize and expand various ideas and concepts by hand before moving forward.



Processes in which the artwork or text is first printed on to a flexible substrate and later transferred by another process onto a material. Used to add artwork and details to curved surfaces. Sticks and molds to any shape. 


TOMBSTONE - Industry Term 

Formal printed notice that announces and gives basic details of important financial transactions made by investment banks, real estate and law firms. Examples include: Initial public offerings, mergers and acquisitions, debt deals, bankruptcies, etc.

Synonym: Deal Terms, Terms, Deal Info, TS


TYPEFACE - Typography Term

A set of letterforms and glyphs that are related by similar design features. Each font in the typeface has a specific identity through its style, weights, slant, ornamentation, and other elements.

Synonym: Font Family


TYPOGRAPHY - Typography Term 

The artistic arrangement of type in a readable and visually appealing way.  Usually concerns the design and use of various typefaces in a way that helps to better visually communicate ideas.





VECTOR - Design Term

Graphics that can be scaled to any size or examined at extreme zoom levels. The coordinate and path mathematical data is interpreted and rendered by browsers and creative tools. Vector files are the preferred format for artists and designers because they are fully scalable, and therefore logos contained in these files can be enlarged and manipulated without loss of resolution.

Common vector file formats are EPS, PDF, and SVG.


VIABILITY - Design / Business Term 

Ability to generate profit based on business goals





WATER JET CUT - Technique

Used to cut crystal, Lucite, stone, and metal. Allows for a high level of precision. Materials are cut by a water and sand jet. Custom shapes with precise cuts out are possible. Edges are frosted. 


WEIGHT - Typography Term

The thickness of a stroke or a letterform’s stroke.

Strokes are generally measured in points.


WHITE SPACE - Design Term

The use of blank or empty space to promote design.

Synonym: Negative Space


References, Links & Resources

Photo by: Fabio Santaniello on Unsplash

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