How to make a Gobo Monogram

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Custom Gobo Monogram on Dancefloor at The Prado

Custom Gobo Monogram on Dancefloor at The Prado

Gobos and Gobo Monogram lighting have become extremely popular over the years and to no surprise – they can add a huge “wow factor” to your event in regards to custom lighting.  A “gobo” is either a pattern or custom design that is shined onto a particular surface.  They’re not simple, or cheap either and getting your dreams to reality takes a bit of planning, resources, expertise and knowledge. A complete gobo or gobo monogram projection consists of three major elements:

  • The Gobo itself
  • The Projector / Light Fixture
  • The Mounting Equipment

I will break down each of these components below.

The Gobo

The gobo is just a funky word for the actual ‘slide’ that the light shines through.  In fact, the word “gobo” stems from the term “Goes Between” or “Goes Between Optics”.  Typically, it is made of either a metal or glass and are a couple of inches long/round.  There are two types of gobos:

  • Stock Gobos
  • Custom Gobos.
Custom Gobo Monogram

Custom Gobo Monogram placed in Holder

Custom Gobos ones are typically seen for special events, weddings and the like where a custom design must be made – whether it’s the bride & groom’s name/initials or a corporate logo.  The metal ones are laser cut and are typically made of steel or brass.  Glass is used for more detailed/intricate designs and can include shading/gradients (greyscale) and color designs.  Metal ones cost to produce anywhere from $80-150 and glass (greyscale) cost between $150-250 while color glass cost anywhere from $300-400.


After a proper design is finalized, they typically take up to a week to be delivered.  (Important for planning your event)  This gobo is then inserted into the Projector with a special holder.

The actual design is important to the manufacture of your gobo. Not only must it look good and professional, but the amount of details, fine lines, size, etc. depend on the type of gobo you have to order – steel, brass or glass. Similarly, if your corporate guidelines require ALL displays of your logo must be in color, then you will have to order a glass gobo.

Stock gobos are just that – pre-made, fabricated gobos of stock design and can include patterns, florals, stock messages like “Happy New Year” etc. There are thousands of stock gobos available. Prices for stock gobos range from $12-30 on average.

The Projector aka “Light Source”

ETC Source Four Gobo Light Fixture

ETC Source Four Gobo Light Fixture, shown with Standard Lens

The projector is the light source and are typically high end stage/production lighting fixtures sometimes called an ellipsoidal fixture such as the ETC Source Four, or a carefully manufactured, high precision fixture such as the Martin PR-1.  Many models have different features such as bulb type/brightness, zooming ability, size/weight (important for mounting) and other features. These cost anywhere from $300-600 new.  We use ETC Source Four fixtures with various lenses.

Warning – beware of low-power, “cheap” gobo projectors that are advertised online. These may be good for very small ballrooms or a birthday party in your living room – but you’ll be wasting your money using one of thse across a 50ft dancefloor for a 200 person wedding.  They certainly won’t offer results such as the ones shown on this website.

Mounting Your Fixture

This is probably the most overlooked item when it comes to deploying a gobo, and one of the most important in making it successful.

The final product. Gobo Monogram with effects at The Prado in Balboa Park

Location – Not only does your fixture have to be properly and safely mounted, it has to be positioned properly to be displayed correctly.  And with each event custom and unique in regards to layout, the location of lighting gear, stages, bands and guest tables, it can take alot of forethought (and experience) to properly locate and mount your gobo fixture.  If you are not familiar with your venue/layout/arrangement, then a walk through may be in store. Once you determine a location, you then have to determine the distance from fixture to surface, any angles that are created as a result of the location – all against the size of the gobo versus the capabilities of your projector.  NOTE: Angles, mounting locations, distances and the like are not ‘as’ vital when doing pattern gobos, but they are definitely still important and should not be overlooked.

Mounting a Custom Gobo Monogram Fixture

Mounting a Custom Gobo Monogram Fixture from the Ground Level. Dressing up your mounting will improve the overall look too.

Mounting – Physically mounting your fixture also has it’s intricacies.  It can mounted either from the ground, or from above.  If mounted on the ground (common for  mobile and temporary gigs) then a proper stand, mounting mechanism and safety features will be required.  If hung overhead, then proper brackets and fixtures must be used, but only AFTER a suitable mounting location is provided.  (Many venues will not allow or even have the capability to hang fixtures from over head.)

Power & Other – Finally, power supply has to be taken into consideration too as some of the bigger fixtures (like the ones we use) use up to a 750w Lamp which requires almost a dedicated circuit. Additionally, you want your fixture to look good and not just a big, bulky light fixture mounted on top of a pole with a bunch of cables hanging about. Ensure you use proper taping, dressing/skirting, etc. to polish off the final look of the fixture too.

LCD / Computer Gobo Monogram

There has been some instances, possibly a trend by some, to use or want to use a LCD Projector / Computer to display your Gobo Monogram.  And we have used this method on a few occassions – the one thing is that the three key ingredients above are the exact same, just using different devices, technologies and approaches.  I’ll save more details for another post.

Putting Your Gobo All Together

As you can see from above, there are a few different aspects in making a gobo monogram projection for your event.  All in all, it takes skill, knowledge and experience to deploy them properly. Pro Motion Entertainment has provided gobos, both custom and standard, at over 100 events and weddings in San Diego over the years and have been faced with all sorts of obsticals along the way.  If adding a gobo to your event is on your checklist or if you have any questions, please contact us for more information.

If you wish to see additional pictures of events that we supplied gobo mongrams, check out our blog.

View Real Events with Gobos

Gobo Monogram Pictures

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  1. Monogram Gobo

    Nice pictures shared of monogram gobos, and thanks for the helpful details.

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