More EnRoute 5 fun!

I recently got a job where I had to do some things that previous versions of EnRoute couldn’t handle. My client wanted a horse’s head. I had downloaded an STL mesh file of a horse head some time ago and routed a sample. My client loved it but we needed it to top a post instead of being a wall mount. 
I first imported the mesh file. Unselected it is black. When we select the mesh it turns green.
When we render the mesh file it turns red.
I created a zero height relief, selected both the relief and the mesh, then merged highest. The mesh could now be deleted.
Then I did a zero height slice to remove the background.
Then it was time to give the new distort tool a workout. I decided to do a little at a time rather than go for big moves and create too much distortion.
To distort I grabbed the nodes and pulled. I was careful not to distort through the face area of the horse head relief. As you pull the nodes the grid over the relief distort but what happens is not evident until I hit enter. I pulled and stretched in eight operations to achieve the effect I wanted.
By this point I was liking what I saw. I did one more round of distortion just to widen out the base of the neck.
I wanted to clip off the bottom of the irregular shape to make it flat. The was a simple operation. I created a zero height relief rectangle and then merged lowest.
To get rid of the flat part I used the slice tool once more. then I duplicated the horse’s head and flipped the copy. By machining the two sides I will have two halves to glue together making a complete head.

As quick as that I had a usable horse’s head that I am sure my client will love. The new distortion tool proves to be perfect for this task.


Published with permission from Source.

Playing with new toys

With the next Sign magic Workshop now only a week away we are very busy creating the name plaques we give each attendee. For the first one I wanted to create the look of an old piece of news paper with Darrel’s name on it. The font I used was called American typewriter.
To get an antique look I decided I would give a new tool in EnRoute 5 a try. The tool is called noise distortion. It is found in the transform group, under the subheading of distort. Since it is a new tool to me I had to noodle around a bit to figure out, first how it work, and secondly how to get what I wanted for this file. The preview function proved to be real handy!
Once I had the look I wanted I deleted the original letter vectors. This was looking old and well worn already – and with just the click of a button instead of having to hand draw the wiggly lines as I have always done.
I used the offset tool to create a border around the letters.
I drew up a rectangle with rounded corners, then used the noise distortion tool once more to create the decal edge of the news paper. Once again it was with the click of a button rather than hand drawing it. This distortion tool is cool!
I enlarged the rectangle to form a backer board for the name plaque.
Then I used the point edit tool to quickly grab a few of the nodes to drag them in and form some rips and cracks in the edges of the news paper. It only took a few seconds.
 I snapped a screen shot of the vectors and then opened the file in EnRoute. I would use this outline to produce a quick bitmap that I would use to shape the newspaper. I used a big fuzzy brush with the opacity dropped down to about 50%. I didn’t spend more than a minute or two on the task. As I drew I kept in mind that black does nothing, white will raise up areas and grays do in-between , depending on their relative value. Looking at my bitmap I see that the edges will raise up with a couple of folds while the middle will drop down.
 Then it was time to start in on the reliefs. I used the dome tool initially to create my plaque base.
Then I grabbed my tool outline and used this vector as a mask to modify the original relief.
 I then imported the bitmap I had created and applied it to the relief. In the screen capture below the name and outline is selected as well as the plate and newspaper outline. It shouldn’t be selected so if you are repeating this exercise make sure you don’t do as in the picture.
To add a bit of a hump in the middle of the newspaper I applied a second bitmap. By understanding how the various shapes of white, gray and black affect the relief we can purposely create any effect we want.
To make the newspaper look just a little older I used my faithful SPLOTCHES bitmap using a small value to add some wrinkles to the paper.
The completed paper relief looked like this.
Then it was back to the letter vectors to modify the relief by adding the letter outline first.
The last step was td add the slightly domed letters.
I’ll tweak it slightly with the die grinder as we prepare for paint but it isn’t going to take more than ten seconds for what I want. 
This new distortion tool works pretty cool. It is but one of the many new features in EnRoute 5 that will save me a bunch of work!

Published with permission from Source.

EnRoute 5 – MOST exciting feature so far.

Yesterday I posted about my first impressions of version 5 of EnRoute. I had discovered the warp/distort feature but didn’t have much time to play as of yet. But you can bet my mind was racing with all the new possibilities and added power this gave me to design.
In creating the last job we did I had spent the most time creating the waving British flag at the top. Getting everything tweaked perfectly took me quite a while. Each section had to be done separately. 
With the new distort feature in EnRoute 5 this promised to be a whole lot easier. So I opened a flag vector I already had and gave it a whirl.  The flag vector I had was a trace from a bitmap. Not especially accurate but it would do.
I selected the vector I wanted to trace and then clicked on the distort menu. It is found under transform. EnRoute instantly overlays a grid on my vector.
Then I go over the drawing grabbing the various nodes and pulling them to the shape I desired.
WHen I was happy I hit enter and PRESTO!  What had taken me a great deal of time only the day before yesterday was now possible in seconds. How cool is that!
I am really liking version 5 of EnRoute already! Thanks to the folks who worked so hard and long to make it possible!  
I talked with EJ, EnRoute Product Director, yesterday and he says it is on the way very soon!

Published with permission from Source.

Kicking the tires on EnRoute 5

EnRoute 5 has been eagerly anticipated for some time. Now it is only weeks away. 
Recently, I was asked if I wanted to test drive a pre-release version of the software. I jumped at the opportunity! I loaded it up on my computer and proceeded to give it a whirl. I had heard rumors of some great new features, but like all users of the program my first concern was how would it handle the things I already do with the software every day. 
I was going to work as I always had first and then I would quickly see how things were different. I’ll go exploring and learning the new things a bit later.
The interface looks very similar. The logo and icons are green instead of the familiar blue.There are a few new buttons of course but everything I use is still in it’s familiar location. Being a man of moderation I of course loaded it with a massive mesh – something EnRoute 4 had choked on. I was pleasantly surprised to see the rendering was faster than ever and EnRoute 5 handled the task with relative ease. Good news for the things I do. In fact, everything seemed a little faster – even on my two year old iMac, running Windows through Parallels.
I had heard from Jeff Hartman, one of the writers of the program that a new feature was going to be included that would allow us to distort vector lines automatically. This was a feature I was looking forward to. I found it this morning. It is a button called DISTORT in the transform menu. There are three sub menus. Patch Distort, Taper Distort and Noise Distortion. I was noodling around trying all kinds of things and found something VERY EXCITING. 
I knew it would alter vectors and that is a powerful tool. I know I can use this effectively in our work in the future. But as I played around I discovered the Patch Distortion tool also modifies completed reliefs. 
Below I have a screen capture of my experimentation. The top rectangular vector was modified with the noise distort function. I ramped it up to the extreme to dramatically show the effect but it can be precisely controlled by entering values into the box.
The same rectangle was modified in the second example using the Patch Distort function. Gentle sweeping curves and distortions are instantly possible. This is a cool feature!
The third example caught me by surprise. On a whim I opened a completed relief I was building this morning. I tried the Patch Distort function on it and it worked fabulously! I could distort both within the relief as well as the outside contours. This is COOL and will allow me to modify and tweak my designs after they are done. IMAGINE what it possible now!
There are many other new features in EnRoute 5. I have yet to test drive or even discover all these new things. One thing I have heard some buzz about is the ability to now nest on partial and irregular shaped sheets of material. That should be real handy. I look forward to our Spring Sign Magic Workshop where Jeff will show us everything in person. It is going to be fun!
After only a couple of weeks of use I already know I’ll never open version 4 again. Version 4 was a huge improvement over version 3 and it looks like the folks at EnRoute have done it again. I already like this new version so much better! I can hardly wait to do a little more experimenting! 

Published with permission from Source.