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 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 I quickly found out that with the relative simplicity of EnRoute, CNC routers were capable of just about anything imaginable. This journal will chronicle that journey to date and continue each week with two or three entries as we continue to explore just what is possible with this wonderful software... -dan

Monday, May 3, 2010

Planning ahead in the design stage to save time in production.

I begin the planning process for painting even when I'm doing my first drawings for the sign. When I'm creating the files in EnRoute each layer is planned to make it easy and quick to paint. Primer is first. We use Coastal Enterprises FSC-88 WB primer. Thick bodied like cream it doesn't shrink or crack as it dries. This allows us to introduce a little more subtle texture to key areas of the sign - like the lettering.
Once the primer is on and dried well it's on to the base colors, painting the lower areas of the sign first. Each color will be cut in using the raised edges. I purposely overpaint, well past where the next color is to go. This means I only have to cut in once with every change of color. The blue was very bright but I'll fix that in the next step.
Then I mixed up a navy blue glaze using a clear base (without any colorant in it) We add custom mixed acrylics at a ratio of about 50/50... then add a dash of water to give us a little more working time. Once the glaze is slopped on we wipe most of it off again with a towel to reveal the highlights of the sign. I went over the the blue two times with the glaze to get the effect I wanted.
The 3D graphic came next. First I painted the green base coats. Once these were dry I dabbed on the colors based on my reference photo of the mountain. Then I used a dirty brown mud colored glaze to tone things down a little.
Painting the scroll was easy. Because I had created a hard and deep edge around the letters I could quickly drag my brush by creating a clean paint line. I'll add another coat of paint yet along with some blends to create age and shadows but it's looking pretty snazzy already!
Then while the scroll dried I painted the copper paint on the outer edge of the sign. It will be hard to believe the sign is made from Precision Board or largely done with a CNC router when we are done.
The sign still has a fair ways to go with second and third coats of paint still to come as well as the gold leaf but it's looking pretty fine already.
Stay tuned!