It is hard to believe that it was almost ten 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

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Complex pub sign - part one

Last week I received a request to build a file for another pub sign for the same fellow I did some for a while back. It is not often I build files that I do not design and route but Dave's work is just so fine and challenging that I find it hard to resist. Dave is in the process of building a new building to house a router of his own. When that happens I know he'll be off and running and we'll see some pretty amazing work in the future. With Dave Barrer's kind permission I will be posting the step by step of building this complex pub routing file.

Like last time he sent me some well crafted and amazing Illustrator files.

Dave asked me to build three versions of the file. He also asked me to keep all the elements of the build separate so he could use them in the future for other projects. This meant I had to learn something new this go around. I would learn about using layers in EnRoute. This would be fun and challenging.

I imported the Illustrator files into EnRoute knowing what would happen. The beautiful blends in Dave's illustrations appeared as black boxes with tight vertical lines. I would need to edit and simplify the vector files considerable before they were usable to create reliefs. Each time I get illustrator files from designers used to working for print I see this kind of thing. It really confused me when I first saw it but now I know what to expect.

Other areas of the design such as the borders and letter outlines also had many extra lines. I carefully went through each area of the file deleting and simplifying the design. In all I spent about an hour making the file usable for routing purposes. This is what I expected from pervious experience.

The file was now ready to begin creating the rather complex design of the sign. I had budgeted four hours for the task of building the relief but it actually took more like six hours before I was done. To do this kind of intricate work requires complete concentration for me. I waited until late in the work day when things quieted down. Then I worked non-stopuntil I was done, save for a couple of quick breaks to walk outside for a breath of fresh air and clear my head. It required the file be built from the bottom up, keeping track of the depths of each piece as the many layers were assembled. The key is to keep going forward, building one element at a time without having to redo any pieces - a task I actually managed to accomplish.

The build of this relief will seem complex without a doubt but in reality it is simply a combination of many of the things I have discussed previously in the blog. For those just starting I would strongly advise not to attempt something this complex until you get a firm grasp on handling files in EnRoute. But for those who like a challenge and have some experience in EnRoute this is the perfect kind of file that will give you a run for your money. Next time we'll begin the process and most likely spread it out over a few posts. 

Stay tuned...