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

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Routing a rock

A fellow recently set me a picture and asked me to help him out to create a routing file that looked like a specific type of rock. He sent me a bitmap file that was pretty grainy and in fact looked a bit like he had salt and peppered it. These are things that affect the results I would get but I decided to give the file a whirl to see what I would get. This is the original file I was sent.

I opened the file in Photoshop and turned it into gray scale.

I then bumped up the contrast a little until it looked like this.

Then I put a new layer on the rock photo and drew masks and then used a big blurry brush to create the edges of the rock. As I worked I kept in mind that black would do nothing and white would be raised up when a applied the bitmap to a relief,

Then it was time to build a relief in EnRoute. I first created a flat relief.

Then I imported the rock bitmap, selected the relief and the bitmap, opened the apply bitmap command and typed in a value of 0.25". The result was very grainy and not at all what I wanted.

The solution was simple. I took the bitmap back into PhotoShop and added a blur. This would get rid of the graininess. Then I applied it to the flat relief once more. The results were much more to my liking.

Then I imported the bitmap I had created using the large fuzzy brushes. I applied this as a second layer.

This created the sharp layered edges in the rock similar to the photograph I had first been given. By creating and applying more layers I could have achieved a much more dramatic effect with more subtleties.

Then I imported a bitmap from my collection called splotches. This too was applied to the relief.

Here's the result.