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

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Drifting along...

Ryan is coming to the workshop from a little closer to home. He lives in beautiful Sydney, British Columbia on Vancouver Island. I've visited there many times. The beautiful, quaint seaside town has one of the best bookstores around. Ryan's plaque would be crated to resemble the driftwood found on the shores nearby. I typeset his name in a jagged 'pirate' style font. I surrounded the lettering with a small flat shoulder to separate it from the woodgrain that would follow. The lettering border was a simple flat relief to which I added the beveled lettering. Then I imported the driftwood bitmap from my collection and drew a rough and jagged outline by tracing a vector around the bitmap.
I used this vector to create a relief but used the doming tool with a 7 degree angle to dome it up nicely. Then the bitmap was applied to this relief with a value of 0.3" This made for a fairly knarly and deep grain on this size of panel.I then drew an oval about the same size and modified the lettering relief to ark the lettering at the same instance over the 'wood' panel.
Here's a side view screen capture to show how the lettering and the panel ark together nicely.
Then it was time to make magic using one of EnRoute's very cool tools which was new to version 4... It is the freehand sculpting tool. I used it to sculpt (virtually) some deeper creases into the panel. The red arrows show the areas and direction I applied the sculpting strokes. It only took a few seconds to modify the panel to my satisfaction.
In this final screen capture we can see how dramatically those few freehand sculpting strokes have affected this panel. Instead of a flat hunk of Precision Board with a woodgrain we have a believable piece of driftwood.
In about ten minutes I created a pretty cool piece of work which would take a long time to pull off by hand. The MultiCam would only take about half an hour to take the file from the virtual world into a physical reality...