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I have a diorama project that I want to build and need the services of someone that can do sign graphics.  Purely text with a few different fonts that mimic the signs in this photo.

I have a thread called Carpenter's Sandwiches in the Diorama section, but think this is a more logical place to ask.  I would rather deal with a forum member if possible. 

 

gettyimages-587496114-2048x2048.jpg

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Have decided to bite the bullet and get up to speed using Corel Draw. 50 years ago I had to take on artwork duty for product packaging with no experience. Got exposed to Corel about 25 years ago because of customers' inability to come up with camera ready artwork for product they wanted to buy from me in retail package form. I have endured the work and it was never easy for me. I suppose it isn't any more complicated than CAD/CAM and somewhat similar so I may even get to like it, a little.

Ordered the software and downloaded a free trial.  Started watching tutorials on YT.

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I've been using Corel Draw for hobbies for about 25 years.  I;'m sure you'll easily pick it back up.  The latest one I use is version 12 (mostly use version 10).  The difficult part will be to find typeface (font) which is close to what you are looking for.  There are websites that can identify founts, but you need to have a clean sample and they are hit and miss as far as identification goes.  You might also not find a font that is identical, and if you are stickler for details, you will have to convert text to curves, and edit each letter individually (or even trace the letters on that photograph, to create the lettering).

Corel's great feature is that you can easily size the signs exactly to the size you need.  Not messing around with multiple test printing and resizing of your artowrk in MS Paint, MS Word, or PowerPoint.

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What scale is the diorama? 

You might run into the situation where the text would be so small that font wouldn't be noticeable.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks Pete. Already did some font searching and found some that are close enough.  Only problem with searching is finding font lists where the whole alphabet is shown.  Problem learning a different program when I'm geared for another.  The good thing is I have a project to learn with. 

Hope size reduction doesn't cause pixelation.

Diorama is 1/24 scale matching all the Danbury Mint cars I've collected.  Have about 40 cars and trucks that fit the era.

Edited by Flat32

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Reducing font size shouldn't cause pixelation. The majority of fonts are vector based and should change size without a problem. Of course what your printer does to them is another thing.

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Do I have an excuse to get an Alps printer???

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Posted (edited)

Corel Draw is vector-based, and fonts are scalable vectors. At least all the TruType or OpenType fonts I have been using for 30 years.  Pixelation is a bitmap artifact, and it doesn't occur when  reducing size, but when enlarging.

Alps?  Are you planning on making those as waterslide decals?  I thought you would just print the signs on paper (either regular or glossy photo paper). Most consumer grade ink jet or laser printers have resolutions much higher than Alps' 600 dpi.

Edited by peteski

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I've got a Xerox Phaser 6022 printer supposedly 1200 dpi.  No, don't need decals. This Alps printer ad gave me the impression they were capable of 2400 dpi http://www.alps-printer.com/refurbished-md5000-thermal-printer-with-english-windows-98xp-driver-p-6466.html

I'd like to have the capability to print 1/25 gauge faces readable under magnification, but reality is I don't need it and should stop kidding myself.

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Posted (edited)

Alps print head is 600dpi. The pseudo "2400 dpi" resolution is just marketing "feature", because Alps 5000 and 5500 can control the size of the printed dots.  The only printing mode where this is utilized is full color printing in VPhoto mode.  But the dots themselves are still spaced at 600dpi.  And even in VPhoto mode, Alps full color print quality sucks compared to any of today ink jet printers.

The bottom that the thinnest line Alps can print is 0.0017" thick, where a true 2400 dpi printer could print line as fine as 0.0004" thick.

But because Alps is a thermal transfer printer, the printed dots are very sharp, where ink jet or laser dots have a fuzzy "aura" around them (due to ink or toner scatter).  So a 600 dpi image which only uses solid colors will look sharper printed on Alps than on other printers. But is is still 600 dpi.

I owned Alps printers for over 15 years, and have done quite a bit of printing and experimenting with them. Another thing to consider is that the Alps print head is quite fragile, and the most common failure is print head damage.  And of course there is now only one place in the world (in Japan) that has the proper facilities and equipment to replace and re-calibrate them. And it is a pricey repair, and pricey shipping cost.

BTW, I recommend that you stay away from alps-printer.com . It is a Chinese company that swaps parts to fix those printers, and they often sell printers with damaged head as "fully operational".  I have seen several complains about them on the Alps online groups.

Edited by peteski

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CorelDraw since V8.....

You may want to ;learn to modify fonts. Find a font that is close and convert to curves......this will allow you to edit the font itself. As you do this keep a back up of all work so you can go back. Every time I make new edits I duplicate the art and edit it.....when all done I can delete the dups I do not need. Good luck.....if you have Q's ...ask! 

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Thanks to Pete for the firsthand Alps info.  And Dave, I have one question.  There's a cent symbol used on the menu sign boards that is not included in the fonts I've been looking at. Is this something I'll have to create as a separate object and insert where needed or can it be typed with an alt or ascii code??  Another question I'll be immediately looking for the answer to is how to align or space words so that the beginning and ends of the words are aligned. I guess you'd call it variable word spacing, not variable letter spacing.  

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Posted (edited)

Ray,  here is an example of decal artwork I'm working on.  Like Dave mentioned, I start off with a font that is close, convert the letters to curves, then reshape them while keeping working copies.  And when you work with text then you can easily control every aspect like letter and word spacing, justification, etc.  You can even adjust each letter's locations. And of course once you convert text to curves, you have total control of each character's shape and location.

This screen capture also shows that I use scans of decals and photos of the real car when I create the artwork. First I edit the scans or photos in Corel Photo Paint to fix distortion and perspective. I use the layers feature in Corel to import those photos or scans into a layer I call Bitmap. I then lock that layer and draw my artwork over that locked layer.  Kind of like tracing something using drafting film.  What you see is my scratchpad file. Once the various pieces of artwork are completed, I copy them to another file which will be the printable version of the artwork.

ArtworkExample.png.37da3bc45581b4873f014e7c06ea1e53.png

Example of what Dave mentioned is the "Plains, Ga." text.  I found that font Verdana was pretty close to the truck lettering. That is the black text. Then I converted text to curves and modified each letter to be as close as the actual truck lettering as possible.  The pink and light green version are intermediate copies (I kept them in case I wanted to go back to one of them). The gray color is the final version of that text (which I will copy to the printable decal artwork file).

Edited by peteski

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What units of measurement do you use in the raw file??  If I'm going to use a 1200 dpi printer resolution what should I use for the file I'm working on?  Is the "points" I see in the screenshot relatable to dpi??

The sign letters vary in size from about 1" to 4" at1:1.  Can a 1" 1:1 character be readable printed 1/24 scale at 1200 dpi???

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9 hours ago, peteski said:

Ray,  here is an example of decal artwork I'm working on.  Like Dave mentioned, I start off with a font that is close, convert the letters to curves, then reshape them while keeping working copies.  And when you work with text then you can easily control every aspect like letter and word spacing, justification, etc.  You can even adjust each letter's locations. And of course once you convert text to curves, you have total control of each character's shape and location.

This screen capture also shows that I use scans of decals and photos of the real car when I create the artwork. First I edit the scans or photos in Corel Photo Paint to fix distortion and perspective. I use the layers feature in Corel to import those photos or scans into a layer I call Bitmap. I then lock that layer and draw my artwork over that locked layer.  Kind of like tracing something using drafting film.  What you see is my scratchpad file. Once the various pieces of artwork are completed, I copy them to another file which will be the printable version of the artwork.

I've been using CorelDraw for some 25 years now, and my methods are 100% identical to Peteski's. This is the way to do it.

One thing that I haven't read explicitly in this thread: the signs that you want to duplicate are all handpainted. So you will not find a font that matches them 100%. But by changing the fonts to curves, and the manipulating the control points, you can make them look like the handpainted lettering.

Here's one example that I made long time ago. It's a data block as painted on a 1939 Fokker G1 fighter. I started with 'VAG Rounded' and modified nearly each letter to make it look like it was brushpainted. I rotated many letters a bit to add some randomness. Still it might look a bit too perfect.

g1-64.jpg

CorelDraw isn't easy to start with, but you need to learn only a few things to do your decals. The program can do 100x more, but you don't have to learn all that.

Have fun!

Rob

 

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Peter pretty much has it covered.....and said it better than I can! 

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14 hours ago, Flat32 said:

What units of measurement do you use in the raw file??  If I'm going to use a 1200 dpi printer resolution what should I use for the file I'm working on?  Is the "points" I see in the screenshot relatable to dpi??

The sign letters vary in size from about 1" to 4" at1:1.  Can a 1" 1:1 character be readable printed 1/24 scale at 1200 dpi???

In Corel Draw you don't define the drawing's resolution like you would in a bitmap editor (like PhotoPaint). Remember: vector graphics. I use inches (rulers in decimal, not fraction).  The printer's dpi is not even being considered.  No need to worry about it.  If some object in Corel is 1" wide, it will print out that exact size on any printer connected to that computer.  Same with an object which is 0.01" wide.  That's why Corel Draw is so handy.  Remember: WYSIWYG.  Plus, you are working with vector-based objects, so again dpi is  not relevant.

I do have a handy way to get an approximate visual of what the printer will actually print.  I select some object (or multiple objects, or even the entire drawing), then export it as PNG file.  Then in the PNG export dialog box I select 1:1 scale and custom dpi of whatever my printer is capable of.   Also remember to uncheck anti-aliasing.  Next I usually don't  even save the PNG file to view it, I just look at the preview box (scroll and zoom in and out) to see exactly what the printer will put on paper.  PNG is a bitmap format , so each pixel in the PNG file corresponds to a dot printer would put down on paper.

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Pete, Dan, Rob, I 100% understand what you're saying.  I've been using Solidworks for almost 20 years now and it's looking like Corel Draw is a God send for when I'm trying to make a 3D model from a photograph.  I can do this. Gets me a step closer to being able to convert a 3D scan into a parametric model as a bonus. I can feel a passion coming on and THAT is critical to my learning process.

Nodes and curves and screw the pixels.

 

 

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27 minutes ago, Flat32 said:

Nodes and curves and screw the pixels.

That's the spirit!  :D  Vectors are more fun! With that many years of using CAD, you're half way home using Corel Draw. You understand drafting and 2D drawing.  That is sort of what Corel Draw is (of course you can also mix bitmaps and vectors in the Corel drawing).  As for using photos to create 3D models (manually) you might want to look into SketchUp.  It was originally developed for Google to crowd-source converting Google Earth images of buildings into 3D CAD drawings.  I dabbled with SketchUp few years ago, but didn't get very far (I didn't spend much time on it - too many other projects).

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Posted (edited)

This will be my first sign project in Corel.  The image is what I did in Paint from a photo.  I'm fairly sure Corel can do it better, that is getting from an aliased bitmap to an antialiased bitmap prior to the conversion to vector curves.  Not sure I have the terminology correct. The photo is just to show the subject.

Got it backwards.

 

ICE.jpg

Edited by Flat32

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If you want to deal with bitmaps (like cleaning them up, flattening perspective, converting to black/white, etc. Corel PhotoPaint is pretty good).  What you show above will take quite few hours of work to vectorize manually. Corel also includes auto-tracing program, but in my years of working with Corel I never got it to work to my satisfaction.  I always end up tracing manually.

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There's only the word "Fresh" that I need work on. Searched through hundreds of fonts and didn't find any that looked as good as the original.  I can see where a bitmap image editor needs to be used to clean up the word prior to sticking it in Draw for conversion to curves. 95% of the word copy on the signs is common looking all upper case.  Hours don't bother me once I get focused on a personal challenge.

I watched a tutorial on the auto trace and it sure has a bunch of things to tweak.

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Auto-tracing foremost needs fairly high resolution bitmap.  Then you usually end up with either rough rounded outlines of the traced objects, or if you change the settings, you end up with very jagged outline with thousands of line segments,  I have never found a happy medium where the outline would tightly follow the traced graphic, and no have too many line segments (control points).  I tried auto tracing, then cleaning up the traced vectors by removing bunch of control points, but now I find it easier to just manually create a rough outline around the item I'm tracing, then mess around with that outline.  It takes me less time to manually trace than to auto trace and clean up the result.

I've been thinking of your project. How large will the printed version of that sign you posted earlier be?  2-3"? You might be able to get away with just cleaning up the bitmaps and just printing them.  Of course redoing it in a vector format will result in a crisper printout and one that can be easily manipulated without losing any quality.

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From past experience I'll always resize the bitmap image to double or triple the pixel count and make all sharp corners down to one pixel.  Now when I convert to curves the auto trace will lock a node to each sharp as manipulate the total node count.  I want the crispness of vector graphics. No different from dealing with splines in CAD.  I'm very familiar with learning curves and the effectiveness of mastering a meaningful step a day no matter the time it takes. Then I practice what I learned at least seven time, with variations, so it sticks. In the end there will pretty much be manual manipulation so I may use manual tracing from the get go as you do.  I'm hoping to find I can edit a bitmap within Draw, but manual tracing negates the need.  Hmmm

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