It is hard to believe that it was only seven years ago I witnessed a CNC router in action for the very first time. I was fascinated with what I saw and simply had to have one! Although I had been in the creative end of the three dimensional sign business for most of my life I didn't really know what I would do with one - but I just knew it could do fantastic stuff.

Through extensive research and LOTS of hands-on practice I quickly found out that my MultiCam router was capable of just about anything imaginable.This journal will chronicle that journey to date and continue each week with two or three entries as I continue to explore just what is possible with this wonderful tool... -dan

Friday, October 17, 2014

Phil's Pholly

A while back I posted a how-to on the Treasure Quest sign. In the last installment the sign had been laminated over the framework. The rest of the twisted tree had been lathed and was ready for the concrete. Since then we sculpted the concrete 'wood and bark' and allowed the tee to cure before it was ready to drag back in the shop to finish up. I asked one of our workshop attendees, Phil to sculpt the parrot. It was Phil's fourth visit with us and I knew he could easily handle the task. Phil didn't disappoint. I did up the gold coins and pearls that were draped over the top of the sign and did a little art direction for Phil to make sure his style blended seamlessly with the rest of the pieces.

Once the sculpting was done it was time for the crew to lay on the base colors on the tee and treasure.

Phil also put on the first coats of base colors. Our painting crew did the last coat and then went at Pholly with the glazes. The result was fantastic!

Then the crew tackled the tee with the various shades of glaze required to bring the whole thing to life.

The sign and tree is a wonderful mix of various mediums including welded steel, routed Precision Board, sculpted fiberglass reinforced concrete, sculpted Abracadabra Sculpting Epoxy and many coats of paint and glaze. It will be ready to roll out of the shop on Monday, making room for the next batch of features that still need paint.

Stay tuned for more...


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Piece of eight

Designing and building a theme park is a lot of fun, especially if you get to control all aspects of the design. The rides are being manufactured by a company in Italy but they allowed me to help with the design to help the ride fit into the theme of the park. Unless we want to spend a great deal of our customer's money the changes are limited to cosmetic items alone. In this case we went a little further. 

To make the ride(s) more exciting and to maximize the space available we tucked two rides together. The concern was the safety ride envelope of each ride. This meant we had to have one end of the figure eight ride (spinning coater) enlarged slightly. Our theme in the park is Pirates so we added some theme work to the rides as well. For the spinning drop ride tower we added a crow's nest and a mast at the top- an easy addition. I also specified the colours we wanted.

The spinning coaster we went a little further. We asked the ride manufacturer to redesign the ride cars to look like the bottom portion of a barrel. Stock seats will fit inside.

After I sent off the artwork I got back a proof from the factory to confirm our choices.

We'll also build a small mountain peak inside the second loop to further bring the theme into this area. The ride will be raised substantially to add excitement and also to make it more visible as you approach the park. The very tall rock structure to the right will be Monkey Skull Rock, a world class climbing wall with a fifty foot jump out of the mouth. It will offer a cable controlled descent for those brave enough to try it.
Today's task was to design the gold medallion that will be mounted to the side of each car on the spinning coaster which is name Pieces of Eight. It features the pirate emblem we are using extensively through the park. The design is simple and is to be routed as a simple cutout - with a cool texture of course. We'll route it from 30 lb Precision Board. After it is routed we'll do a little hand sculpting on the skull to make it even more 3D. 

We started with a flat relief 1.5" thick.

I then dropped the centre portion of the coin around the skull 0.2"

I then added a texture using our blotches bitmap. Notice how far it was enlarged. I wanted the coin to have a subtle texture and not just look pitted.

As quick as that it was ready for tool pathing. I used a 1/8" ball nose bit with an 80% overlap. 

We'll make two copies of the piece. One will be sent to Italy to be a master for the mold they will make to cast the eight pieces they will need for the ride. The other piece we make will be painted up real nice and then mounted to our display wall in the shop.

It's always an exciting day to see the giant rides pulled out of the containers and set into position. Then comes the first test rides by our crew! Stay tuned to see how it turns out...


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

2014 Sign Magic Workshop a success!

We had a high energy group assembled for our 2014 Sign Magic Workshop. Our guests were from all over including Nevis - Alberta, Newark - California, Hickory - North Carolina, Jackson - Wyoming, Prior Lake - Minnesota, Invermere - Roberts Creek - Vernon - British Columbia, and Aitkenvale - Australia. Jeff Hartman, one of the creators of EnRoute came from Denver - Colorado to help with the technical side of things.

This eager group soaked up everything we shared, took tons of photos and notes and did up some pretty spectacular projects during the hands-on workshop time. We took the time to tour the group through three of our recent projects and included some hands-on time on the bumper boats and Bucking Bronco rides just for fun.

Each participant learned our painting techniques and discovered how we create the magic with our router in our studio each and every day.

This coming weekend we will be hosting the Sculpture Magic Workshop with a full class signed up and eager to go. It's going to be fun!


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Workshop name plates 2014 - Part eight

I covered the file creation of Philip's name plate back on September 2. It looked great after it was routed from 30 lb Precision Board. The painting crew was ready to give it a cool paint job but I asked them to hold off for I had a little more detail in mind.

They had already applied some FSC-88 WB primer (thick bodied water base primer) using a small brush to add some texturing to the lettering. 

Philip is attending both workshops and rather than make him two name plates I decided I would make him one that was a little more elaborate. Sarah mixed up some Abracadabra Sculpting Epoxy for me and I quickly sculpted some barnacles and a starfish that was slowly making it's way down across the lettering. It took me around fifteen minutes to complete the task.

Tomorrow the epoxy will be rock hard and the painting crew can continue on. I'll post one more picture of the name plaque when it's finished in a few more days as well as some of the others. They are looking mighty fine! Stay tuned...


Friday, September 12, 2014

Workshop name plates 2014 - Part 7

For Torey's name plate I wanted it to look like boards fastened together. I toed out the letters, learned and sized them appropriately then whipped out the rectangles that would become boards. I wasn't worried about sizes or spacing at this point.

I then selected odd number boards and assigned them a height to create the reliefs.

Even number boards got the same treatment with a slightly different height.

I then imported the sandblasted wood bitmap. This bitmap is based on an actual photo of five laminated boards. I positioned the four rectangular reliefs over the boards sizing them to fit on the different pattern boards, assigned a value of 0.15" and added the textures.

I then duplicated two I liked, rotated them 90 degrees and resized them to suit. I also resized and arranged the original four boards at the same time.

Then it was time to add some height to the horizontal boards.

 I didn't want the spaces between the boards to be hollow (for strength reasons) so I created a flat rectangular relief and positioned it vertically under the boards.

Before combining the reliefs I checked the height of all the elements in the front view.

I then combined the vertical board and the lower relief.

Then I combined this relief with the horizontal relief. I also added an offset border around the letters which was made into a nee flat relief.

Since I just guessed at the height this lettering border needed to be I checked it in the front view. It was much too high so I nudged it down using the arrow keys.

Once I has happy with it's position I then merged highest with the base relief.

The last step was to modify the base relief by adding the lettering.

The Torrey name plate was ready to sent to the MultiCam. As always it would be routed from 30 lb Precision Board.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Workshop name plates 2014 - Part six

For Richard's name plaque I wanted a dimensional waving checkered flag. There's lots of ways to accomplish something like this in EnRoute but this is the easiest I can think of. It used the distort tool. I started with a bitmap from the TEXTURE MAGIC COLLECTION.  I then drew a rectangular vector, carefully lining the corners of the rectangle with the squares of the bitmap.

I then used the vector to create a flat relief.

I then modified the relief by applying the bitmap. to the relief using the add to command. Black does nothing, the white raised by the value inputted.

I then selected the relief and opened the distort tool. I used the nodes to wave the flag.

Then I created a new flat relief using the letter outline vectors.

I went to the front view and nudged it into position vertically using the up/down keys as indicated by the line (see arrow)

Once everything checked out I merged highest with the base relief.

Lastly I modified the base relief by adding the letters using the dome tool.

Another name plaque was ready to tool path and send to the MultiCam.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Workshop nameplates 2014 - Part five

Jim's nameplate was pretty straightforward save for one detail. I wanted the background texture to poke through the lettering border and into the lettering. I also wanted it to perfectly match what was around. Once again how and the order we do things in was the key.

As always I started with the vectors.

I first created a shallow domed relief.

I then added the texture of a log end (with splits) using one of my bitmap textures.

Then I created a flat relief using the lettering border. Note I also drew another circle vector around the original log end relief.

This new vector circle was used to modify the lettering border relief using the dome tool at the same angle as the original relief.

 I then went to the front view to position it up vertically so it stuck up above the texture of the log end grain.
 I then modified the original log end (add to command) using the lettering vectors. By adding to the original relief the end grain of the log was pushed upwards within the lettering vectors. This pushed the lettering through the slightly domed lettering border relief.

From the top it looked finished but I wasn't quite done.

We had to merge the lettering border with the base relief using the MERGE HIGHEST command.

This meant the file was now ready for tool pathing and sending off to the MultiCam.

Each time we do something different we have to think hard about the order of creating and merging the parts together to achieve the effects we want. This knowledge is best gained by experimenting and with each result checking to make sure it is what you want. If something unexpected happens go back and change something. Also take note for the technique you used to get the wrong result may be just what you need the next time.