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 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 of these machines - but I just knew it could do fantastic stuff.

Along with the CNC router I discovered the wonderful material called Precision Board and the glues, primers and other companion products they offer. Since then we have gone through many tons of the material using it in most signs and projects we tackle. This journal will chronicle our many adventures both past, present and future. I'll talk from the perspective of someone who pushes these products to the creative limit on a daily basis. I'll be adding to the stories two or three times each week. -dan

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Knarly 'S'

The 'S' letter sample is one I've done before. This would be a little larger upgrade. The file was built entirely in EnRoute. We started with a vector of the letter 'S'.  But the background is to be some knarly driftwood and we wanted the 'S' to have a Pirates of the Carribean kind of feel.

The way to do this was to quickly hand trace the 'S' but purposely add some character and divots. When I use the faceting tool in a bit it will turn out real cool. Then I deleted the original letter vector.

The next step is to open the 'DRIFTWOOD' bitmap. I traced a vector outline by using the woodgrain for reference. I then created a domed relief using this outline. As a last step I applied the bitmap using 0.2" as a value.

Then we came to the fun part. I used the virtual sculpting tool to create more drama and texture in the driftwood relief. The red arrows shows the approximate paths I took. I use a Wacom digital drawing pad instead of a mouse to make it a whole lot easier (once you get by the learning curve)

The 'S' is the next task. I first created an outline 0.2"wide.

I then made a flat relief. The height is arbitrary but I used a value of 0.5" tall. I created a separate relief and then modified it using a circle vector. The dome angle was the same as I used to create the woodgrain panel.

When I rendered the piece it was obvious that the letter border relief was a little low. I simply went to the front view and then adjusted things with the up/down keys until I was happy.

Then it was time to MERGE HIGHEST to make the two relief one.

The last step was to create the letter 'S' I used the bevel tool with a 15 degree angle and a 0.15 base. The jagged vectors I drew created a wonderful faceted look to the letting.

The file was then tool pathed and set to the MultiCam for routing from 1" 30 lb Precision Board.

There's one more piece in this series. Stay tuned...