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

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

We can do corporate too.

Corporate signs are something we do very seldom. They present little opportunity to be truly creative. But every once in a while we need to build such a sign. Our theme park project, Skallywag Bay Adventure Park in Trinidad is owned by a second company, Starburst Parks. I developed the logos for both companies. Skallywag Bay needed to be full on creative and will feature a full blown 3D sculpture of a marvelous pirate ship. It will be a fun project that requires all of our skills. The small sign for the corporate headquarters door needs to be low key and well... corporate. Today I designed the routing file for that business entity. It will be routed small enough to fit into my suitcase on my next trip to Trinidad as a present to my client and generous host when I am visiting.

The logo was designed in Illustrator. It represents a fireworks starburst and also a palm tree. The logo as presented on the letterhead and corporate stationary will be in red and white.

As always the routing file creation starts with the vectors, in this case already complete. I imported then into EnRoute and added the background border.

I then added a sausage shaped vector around the original vector. I would use this vector shape to modify the relief as I built the file.

I first created a flat relief using the plaque border.

I then modified the flat relief using the sausage shape using the dome tool.

I then imported my woodgrain bitmap texture. It opened by default to be the height of the plate.

I stretched it out so my relief was under the woodgrain that best suited this piece. The woodgrain bitmap was applied with a value of 0.15 inch. I used the lettering and logo image as a mask. Because I wanted the woodgrain on the plaque and not in the letter areas I also selected that sausage vector shape. This revered where the woodgrain would go on the relief.


The last step was to raise the lettering and image which I did by modifying the original relief and the add tool.

As simple as that the routing file for the small sign was complete.  It's not super fancy but it is still a sign that will stand out from most corporate identities while still being business like and a little formal. I'll tool path it and route it from a piece of 1.5" thick Precision Board very soon and then we
ll paint it up in official corporate colors. I'll use a darker red glaze to spice it up just a little.


Friday, April 25, 2014

Worth the wait

Back in November of last year we installed the lighthouse sign at the edge of the bumper boat pool.  Here's the POST that covered that part of the project. The weather was turning cold and we had to put off the concrete work around the base until the weather warmed up in spring. We had plenty to do on the (larger) project until then.

Today at last was the day to finish off the concrete work. As always it was a team effort. Marty did the mixing. Jeff was the mud runner. Peter and I applied the mud and the whole crew jumped in for the carving and cleanup.

It will look even better when everything is painted and fabulous with the water and boats in the pool. There's no other bumper boat pool like it anywhere!


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Fun utensil rack

The next routing file I am creating is for the Cookies kitchen. It will be attached to the menu board inside. For those who take a good look at Cookie outside they will see he sports a egg beater instead of a hook on his missing hand.  The joke is he has a whole selection of other implements handy for when he needs them.

The first step was to create the vectors. The font is custom of course and was hand drawn. The rest is a quick trace of the shapes needed.

Then it was time to create some reliefs starting with the main part of the sign. I used the bevel tool but limited the height to create the bevelled edges.

The shelf supports were created in the same fashion adjusting the values some to make them a little taller. They were done as separate reliefs.

The lettering was then incised into the base relief using the bevel tool and subtracting from the relief.

Then it was time for some texture. I used a cartoon woodgrain texture, horizontal for the shelf and vertical with the supports.

The pegs were last as a separate relief and were created once again by using the bevel tool and limiting the height. I'll add the woodgrain later by hand as it is quick and easy.

The elements of the sign were now complete. I first combined the shelf and brackets and then merged highest by modifying the base relief with the pegs. This operation is done one piece at a time.

Then it was on to the cuffs of the utensils. I only needed to create one which I would then duplicate to create five copies. I would use the revolve contours tool to create a mesh.

 This mesh was then placed on a zero height relief

I then selected the mesh and zero height flat relief and used the merge (HIGHEST) tool to combine the mesh with the relief.

I then used the slice tool to get rid of the flat part leaving the relief of half the cuff. I duplicated them to create the pieces I needed.

This is going to be a fun sign to assemble and finish up. I can hardly wait.


Monday, April 21, 2014

More crazy designs

Between working long hours onsite in our current project during the working days and spending evenings and weekends planning the next large project the MultiCam has been idle of late. That of course will change soon as we begin work on the house once again, do all of the remaining smaller signs for our current project and then begin work on the next project right after.

I did the last of the concept art for the Trinidad project last night. Now the construction and engineering drawings are underway. Thankfully they are being done by others although I have a lot of input along the way.

For this project I did over a hundred pieces of concept art. The Skallywag Bay Adventure Park is going to be a pretty cool place when we are done. I thought I would share a few more of the concepts, fresh off the drawing tablet.

As always we'll be using the CNC router to create many of the components and also do a fair amount of hand sculpting as well. You can count on me showing the entire process here.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cookie gets a base

I spent the last two days in meetings with engineers and planners working on the final plans for Skallywag Bay Adventure Park. The project is proceeding and will move from the concept stage through the detailed planning. Today's talk was of the infrastructure and buildings which we will then apply our magic to - when they are done. While that process labors on we will begin the creative work.

Tonight's project was a little more fun. Back in October at our Sculpting Magic Workshop I did the sculpture of Cookie, the head pirate of the eating establishment. Today I would create the routing file for the sign face - at long last.

I first did a quick vector trace of the sign and lettering.

 Then I added borders to the letters using the offset outline tool.

Lastly I added a bent rectangular vector around the sign border and lettering.

The border vector was selected and using the flat relief tool I created a flat relief.

This relief was then modified using dome tool using the bent rectangular vector as a mask.

In the same fashion I created a flat relief of the entering border and then modified it using the bent rectangular shape to dome it up to match the sign background.

The steel bands were then created and modified in similar fashion. These were combined with the sign background reliefs.

Once the bands and sign background was united into one relief I then combined the lettering border with the sign background using the merged highest command.

Then I modified this relief by adding the second raised border.

Lastly the raised and domed lettering was added to the relief.

The sign face was now ready for tool patching and routing from 2" thick - 30 lb Precision Board.

Stay tuned for the next processes on this sign.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Designing for the (near) future

As we come into the home stretch on the urgent large project I am also full blast into the final designs for the next project due to start as soon as this one is done.

The next will be a fun one with all kinds of full blast dimensional signs of course. Here's a sneak peek at a few of the designs coming off the design table...

As much fun as the current project is I do believe the next will be a teeny bit better yet - as it should be. Stay tuned...