By Tom Badley

If you’ve ever handled cash, you’ve touched an engraved portrait with your fingertips. The portraits on banknotes are the ‘soul’ of currency: distinguished portraits of celebrated individuals help to make soulless money known, trusted and liked.

This lost art is exclusively used by the banknote industry... until now...

I combine my engraving skill with the latest in digital imaging and print technology to create this authentic and timeless form of portraiture.

Here's my quick guide on commissioning a piece of this lost art...


First, any subject matter can be engraved – portraits, pets, buildings, still lifes, group scenes… but single portraits are the most requested commission.

This quick guide will help you understand what to keep in mind for the best result and the easiest commission experience…


Due to high demand, the current wait time from commission-to-delivery is 6-7 weeks for banknote-quality projects.


THE HIGHEST QUALITY | Engraving, or etching, is an artform that few are qualified to do. There are plenty of hobbyists, and filters that mimic an engraving effect, but it’s impossible to match the uniqueness of a genuine, banknote-quality portrait. The quality comes from the satisfying precision, and the marvelous details of an authentic intaglio etching – which is only possible with my high resolution etching method.

A PERSONAL GIFT | A portrait is a highly personal gift – every commission is unique; the goal is to capture the incomparable essence of the subject. The expressive properties of an engraving are made even more personal, because of their miniature format.

A CELEBRATION | A good engraving elevates a portrait or scene to the level of trust placed in our financial system; the design of banknotes – even if less used in a ‘cashless society’ – still form an integral part of the public’s feelings of money and value. The portrait is a major visual touchpoint in the ‘brand of money’ – what better way to celebrate a person, pet or event!

HARD TO COPY | The holy grail of art is inimitability. The work of the old masters is prized because it can never be replicated. Unlike most artists, I’m qualified in making a piece of paper impossible to copy: I use specialist papers, non-commercial print methods, and I can even include a range of visual devices that prevent copying. When one considers how widespread counterfeit art is, and how easy most art is to copy, my anticounterfeit methods provide piece of mind that locks in longterm value.


From the start, it’s good to know whether you’d like the final result to be a digital image, or printed…

DIGITAL ARTWORK | If the image is for a digital environment, or if you intend to print it yourself, bear in mind that the details might not be visible if the the image is too small. For example, social media profile avatars aren’t ideal – but zooming into a detail of the image on a social media banner is ok!

Also consider that if the portrait is screenprinted on fabric, or printed on merchandise, the low resolution of commercial printing may miss out the detail. The final artwork is supplied in vector format, so you could print it at any scale on any surface… make sure to discuss the print suitability with your commercial printer of choice.

A PRINTED ETCHING | If you’d like me to print your portrait or scene, it will be printed at banknote-scale using my ultra high resolution etching method… this level of printing isn’t commercially available and is used exclusively by the banknote industry. You’ll never find a print of this quality, except on money!

SUMMARY: If digital only, it’s recommended that the image is shown in a way that the high detail is visible. If you’d like a physical print, the quality and detail will be incredible! You can also request many multiple prints at an affordable rate.


Each engraving is made from source material – here’s a few things to keep in mind when supplying your imagery…

SHARPNESS | make sure your image is a reasonably high resolution, with no blur or ambigious edges. The engraving process is best suited to sharp photos, creating a crisp artwork.

LIGHTING | studio photography with a spotlight and official photos with neutral facial expressions are perfect. High contrast between light and dark will create a more dramatic artwork. Outdoor photography can be great, but if the image is too washed out, it may have to be manipulated to bring out the contrast. AVOID shadows around the eyes at all costs!

BE CLASSY | engraved portraiture is reserved for monarchs and presidents – so be classy! Selfies, obtuse angles, face-pulling, and vulgar imagery can all be engraved, but the results are often dissapointing because the image falls short of the process. For a satisfying result, supply imagery that is dignified and worthy of a lost art… With that said, I’m open to atypical requests – I’ll be able to advise based on the image.

Any high quality photo can be used. Studio photography, or photos with a high level of contrast work the best. As a general rule, if the source image looks great, the engraving will look amazing!

SUMMARY: ANYTHING can be engraved – pets, people, buildings, abstraction – but sharp, well-lit and dignified images get the best results. If your source material needs to be manipulated before it’s engraved, your approval to use the manipulated image will be sought before beginning the process. 


The short answer: it depends on how many lines there are. The more lines, measured from top to bottom, the more detail, the longer the production time. There are other factors, such as: subject matter/image complexity, and of course, whether the artwork is to be supplied as a digital or printed piece.

Digital artwork is supplied in both raster format and vector format. The ‘size’ of a portrait is the printed actual size of the raster file. The vector file can be printed at any large format size without losing any sharpness or detail.

Below is a quick price guide (all prices in USD).

$1000-$1500 | You can expect a bespoke portrait/scene that is around the size of postage stamp when printed. Artwork like this can take 7 to 10 days to complete.

$3000-$5000 | This bracket covers medium to ‘full size’ banknote portraits, measuring 60-100mm and of the same quality as found on circulating paper money. This level of detail requires 3-5 weeks of work to complete.

$5000 – $20,000+ | There are no limits to the size and complexity of an engraving. With that said, it’s unusual for an etched picture to be larger than A3, because the work is so technical and time-consuming.

OPTIONAL & FREE EXTRAS | You can request additional decorative artwork or digital effects, backgrounds, color preferences, and multiple color combinations. These additions are available on request and come at no extra cost.



I once had to print an akward project with space left on the printing plates. I had nothing to fill the space, so I put out an offer to create a portrait at a 70% discount, because I wouldn’t have to pay for additonal materials, design, techniques and setup cost. The response was so overwhelming, that I had enough requests to fill a new plate!

I now offer this deal on a rolling basis. You’ll get:

A stack of 100 bills with an original, hand-engraved portrait.

A customizable US Dollar template [custom text]

Authentic high-res intaglio printing – not commercially available anywhere else!

A range of security features, including invisible ultra violet inks, microtexts, and foils [dependent on availability].

A lifetime supply [available on request at minimal extra cost], dropshipped, whitelabelled, or delivered directly.

A unique, hand-printed and personal work of art.

To request this deal, DM on social media [click the links below], or contact


Authentic engraving is rare and hard to imitate – its a unique gift to celebrate, elevate and glorify.

My hig-res intaglio printing is included in the price, but complex imagery and special requests may add to the cost.

Make sure your source material looks great – well-lit faces and static, high contrast images are best. Avoid shadows around the eyes and blurred edges.

Print timescales can vary, but in general, print and delivery can take as long as 3 weeks (taking account of drying times and current wait lists).


Engraving is just one aspect of currency production. My speciality is combining multiple processes and techniques to create authentic, hard ot counterfiet art prints of the highest quality.

This artwork can range from something that resembles paper money, to completely bespoke prints that include exotic printed devices – invisible ultra violet inks, complex holograms, lenticular effects, and bespoke watermarks.

To to discuss the possibilities, DM on social media [click the social media links below], or contact

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