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

Friday, August 10, 2012

Simple steps to a complicated design

 A current project in the shop is a three dimensional crest for a city. The file is somewhat complicated, mostly because it involves so many steps and procedures to build the file using a wide variety of techniques. The most important thing is that they be done in the right order.I received the file from another sign maker who has taken one of our workshops. It was an Illustrator file designed for printing. My job was to adapt it for a dimensional plaque. The piece will be relatively small - measuring approximately 24 inch wide by 36 inches tall and will be routed from a two inch thick 30 lb Precision Board.

The first task was to simplify the AI file, taking out the double and triple borders as well as the highlights and shadows of the printed version. Some parts like the bird and book had extra vectors added to allow me to create the 3D file.

I also added a late pill shaped vector around the image which I would use to round the shield face.

The first step was to create the base vectors as flat shapes.

I forgot to grab a screen shot of the next step but I selected the base reliefs and also the large pill shaped vector which was used to modify the base relief using the dome tool.

Once we had the base relief I created more flat reliefs for the scroll that was under the shield. This was done in five pieces of various heights. These were then merged highest with the background.

The lettering on the scroll was created by selecting the base relief and he lettering vectors and then adding to the relief.

The shield base relief was also modified by adding to it using the next vector.

Then it was time to begin work on the individual shapes of the shield. I first created a flat relief.  Then using the wiener shape vector around it I modified the original reliefs using the dome tool.

The relief was then merged by ADDING it to the base relief. This shaped it to the domed shield.

The shield is now well underway and looking great.

Stay tuned for the next installment as I create and add more elements to the crest...