posts tagged with the keyword ‘inkscape’

2014.01.23

XQuartz

Since I still think Inkscape is the best open source vector editing application for the platforms I use, that means I need an X Window System running on my Macs. With the upgrade to Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) Apple has done away with their X11 release, but luckily XQuartz is there to help out.

And once you’ve got XQuartz installed, you’ll want to go into the preferences and change it from this:

Preferences (Default)

to something much more reasonable, like this:

Preferences (Changed)

Yes, deselect that “Updated Pasteboard when CLIPBOARD changes”, because if you don’t, copy/paste will be all screwed up in Inkscape on Mac OS X.

(I’m hoping this post will help future me fix the problem much faster next time someone asks me about it.)

(There might also be useful info on Inkscape.org.)

2014.01.12

We’ve been using the RED ONE a lot in the past few months over at z2 and while we’ve had the matte box for a year now, we never managed to get top or bottom flags for it, so I finally got around to solving that problem.

RED Flag

Camera accessories are notoriously expensive. For some things, that makes sense, and for others, I’m not sure it does. The top/bottom flag for a RED Matte Box is $90 USD. Well, hey, it’s carbon fiber. Yeah, that stuff is pricey! But, don’t worry…

RED Flag

There’s an aluminum version of the top/bottom flag for just $40USD. Hey, you could get two of the aluminum flags for less than the price of one carbon fiber flag!

RED Flag

While I was perusing the RED store, admiring their well done photography, I noticed that the large version of the photo was clean. Really clean, and at the perfect angle, straight on! So… I engaged in what I now like to call “R3Dverse Engineering”. (That’s “reverse engineering” of RED stuff, if that was too subtle.)

RED Flag

I grabbed the image from the web site, opened it in Photoshop, and started to clean it up.

RED Flag

I got rid of the shadow, added a white layer below so I could see things a bit better, and selected the object…

RED Flag

I then filled the whole thing with black so I had a high contrast image…

Once this was done, I saved the file as a PNG and imported it into Inkscape, where I used the ‘Trace Bitmap’ feature to create vector lines defining the image.

Inkscape Flag

The next step involved a lot of precise measurements with the digital calipers on the part of the matte box where the flag mounts. There were many guide lines added.

Inkscape Flag

The lines helped me determine centering of the slots and how wide the slots/tabs needed to be.

Inkscape Flag

I did a few revisions, and here’s the final cleaned up version. with most of the guide lines removed.

Inkscape Flag

Here’s a visual diff to show the tweaks between the original trace of the image I imported, and how much I ended up adjusting the lines a bit for a better fit. (The reddish hue shows the final. I mainly had to add a bit more space around the larger tab.)

I should mention that with each revision, I was printing out a sample on tabloid size paper and cutting it up to test the fit.

Inkscape Flag

Once my paper prototype was good enough to consider “final”, I ended up sitting on this project for a bit trying to determine what material to use, and how to cut it.

I’m still thinking about it… I’d prefer to go CNC versus trying to cut it by hand. Perhaps using the CNC Router at Milwaukee Makerspace would work. A very thin sheet of aluminum perhaps? I thought about laser cutting something, but didn’t think acrylic or wood would be a good option. I’ll need to keep thinking about materials…

Black Flag

Meanwhile, we have lots of black board at work, so I stuck my paper prototype onto a piece and hand cut it with an X-ACTO blade. (I did not round the corners.)

Black Flag

The tabs and slots are a little messier than I’d like, but again, I’ll call this part of the prototyping stage.

Black Flag

But it also totally works… and is probably less than 1/100 the cost of the carbon fiber version. It may not hold up as long, but then again, I can easily make a bunch of these for next to nothing. (I can also just laser cut the black board instead of sliding an X-ACTO around to do it.)

Black Flag

Update! I ended up laser cutting the black boards, and they works great! You can grab the files from Thingiverse.

2013.11.18

Glass

I’ve been using the sandblaster at Milwaukee Makerspace quite a bit lately, and I figured that I needed to push the limits of what is etchable by sticking vinyl on glass.

DRINK

I started with the word DRINK in Inkscape as text. I wanted something big and bold, so there would be a lot of etched area.

Paths

When exporting any text it’s a good idea to convert the text to art, or outlines. This changes it from editable text to vector artwork consisting of lines. Once this is done, you cannot edit the text anymore. Often I’ll save my original file with text, then make a duplicate I can convert to outlines.

Logo

I then grabbed one of the new logos Mike has been working on. There was some stitching lines inside of the shape, but testing indicated that the Silhouette did not cut it very well at the size I was using. (I should try various sizes, and perhaps a new blade.)

I exported both pieces of art as DXF files, like I usually do.

DXF Files

If I ever need to quickly check my DXF files I use Solidworks eDrawings. Typically I don’t need it, but it’s handy for troubleshooting.

Cutting

Once I have good DXF files I load those into the Silhouette Studio software for cutting, like I usually do.

After the vinyl is cut, I use transfer paper to attach the vinyl to the glass, and then mask off the rest of the glass to protect it in the sandblaster. (Oops! Photo not available!)

Sandblaster

Sandblaster… here we come!

Logo etched

The logo turned out well…

DRINK etched

…as did the “DRINK”.

Drinking Glass

A fine looking glass!

Etched logo

Close-up of the etch. Looks good!

Combining the vinyl cutter with the sandblaster can produce some great results! It’s a pretty simple process, really. I’ve had a few members ask me about this so I may end up doing a demo or a short class showing how it’s all done.

Disclaimer: You should never drink alcohol while operating power tools. Also worth noting is the only beer I really care for is root beer. I got this mug from the dollar store for… one dollar! I just wanted to see how it would look etched.

2013.05.27

OpenClipArt

I (briefly) mentioned the Silhouette Cameo cutter in a previous post, but I thought I should dedicate a full post to it and how I use it.

I treat the Silhouette Cameo like a CNC machine, and have a similar workflow to the one I use with the laser cutters at Milwaukee Makerspace. I know the Silhouette folks have the Silhouette Online Store where you can buy ready-made shapes to cut, but we’re makers, and we make our own things, so I use Inkscape and if I need a shape I hit up OpenClipArt and find what I need. (Note: All the art on OpenClipArt.org is in the Public Domain, which means you can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission, because permission has already been granted.)

My daughter wanted a kangaroo cut out of vinyl to give to her friend, so I found a kangaroo on OpenClipArt and cut it for her.

Kangaroo in Inkscape

The files on OpenClipArt are in SVG format, which are perfect for Inkscape, as they are the native file format, meaning you can open them right up with no conversion necessary. Here’s our kangaroo in Inkscape. (I won’t go too deep into vector artwork, but if you don’t know, you can scale up and down vector art with no loss of quality, as it’s comprised of lines defined by fancy math, and not a set grid of pixels like raster art, or a digital photo.)

Resizing in Inkscape

The final piece was to be about 4 inches wide, or roughly 100 mm. (You can work in Imperial or Metric measurements in Silhouette Studio—and Inkscape—so use whatever you’re comfortable with.)

I resized the document to 4″ x 3″ using the Document Properties dialog box…

Resizing the Kangaroo in Inkscape

You can see our kangaroo will need to be shrunk to fit within the confines of the document…

Resizing the Kangaroo in Inkscape

Resizing something proportionally in Inkscape is pretty simple. Use the arrow tool, hold down the control key, and move one of the corner points. There’s actually more than one way to resize things, but for eyeballing it, this will work.

Resizing in Inkscape

OK, once we have our artwork the proper size, we can save it (still in SVG format) and the we’ll need to save it as a DXF file so we can get it into Silhouette Studio.

Select ‘Save a Copy…” from the file menu…

Kangaroo in Inkscape

Select “Desktop Cutting Plotter” from the file type menu. (You’ll see it has ‘dxf’ in the name as well, and you may have other DXF options depending on your Inkscape installation, but this one works for me.)

Kangaroo in Inkscape

You shouldn’t need to check either checkbox, just leave the options as they are.

I should note that when exporting DXF files for other purposes, such as loading into OpenSCAD for 3D modeling, we would have needed to convert all the curves to straight lines before creating our DXF file, but the Silhouette Studio software will work just fine without this step.

Kangaroo in Silhouette Studio

OK! We now create a new file in Silhouette Studio, and you can just drag and drop your DXF file onto the canvas. Once it’s there you can resize it as desired. (Wait, didn’t we size it in Inkscape already? Yes we did, that was just my way of teaching you one more thing about Inkscape. You’re welcome!)

Once you’ve got your artwork sized and positioned, you can do your cutting with the appropriate settings.

Kangaroo cut from vinyl

Here’s our final version of a white kangaroo, which my daughter gave to her friend. Hooray for CNC machines that can cut vinyl!

(You may be saying, “Hey! That kangaroo looks larger than the 4″ x 3″ one you mentioned above! And yes, it is. After cutting one, a much larger version was requested, so that’s the one you see here.)

2012.11.27

Tennis Man

Here’s a thing I’m calling (for lack of a better name) “Snowflakey”. The idea came from the Kimotion Arts store on Shapeways.

Kimotion Arts

Kimotion Arts has these neat 3D printed ornaments with an object arranged in a circle to make a snowflake-like thing. I dig it, so I decided to dig into it.

Bad Man

The first thing I did was fire up Inkscape and draw a really simple figure. It’s terrible, really, but I did it in less time than it took Inkscape to launch of Mac OS X. I created an SVG file, and then exported it as a DXF file, making sure I converted all the line segments into straight lines first. (Of course there were no curves in this drawing, but if there were, I’d convert them!)

Bad Man Flake

Once I had my DXF file, it was easy to pull that into OpenSCAD, and place six of them in a circle with the following code.


objheight = 4;
objcenterspacing = 20;
objrotate = -70;

for (i = [0:5]) {
  rotate(i*360/6, [0,0,1])
    translate([0, objcenterspacing, 0])
      rotate([0, 0, objrotate]) 
        linear_extrude(height = objheight, center = true) 
          import( "figure.dxf" );
}

The code is not the greatest… in fact there is probably much room for improvement, but it’s the first thing I got working, so I ran with it. My idea for the 3 variables at the top were so you could easily tweak them for different art. Sadly, as you change objcenterspacing and objrotate, they affect each other, so it’s a lot of back and forth between those two values. I also could not find a way to assign a filename to a variable, so your DXF will need to be named “figure.dxf” or you’ll need to edit the import line.

Tennis Man

Since my drawing was so terrible I wanted to try something else, so what better than Land recreation symbols 27, better known as “Tennis Man” by most people.

Tennis Man Flake

A few quick edits and I had this nice Tennis Man Snowflake for that special ball smasher on your list… (Notice the canvas size of 25mm wide by 35mm high. You can do what you want, but the OpenSCAD code will be expecting something close to that. Otherwise you’ll just have to tweak the numbers even more.)

Blobby Man Flake

I decided to try once again to draw something. This one too a little longer than a minute, but turned out just as terrible as the first one I did. Still, maybe you like “Blobby Man” as a snowflake.

Ant Flake

How about ants? This one is interesting. Maybe spiders would have been a better choice. (And yes, I know I could probably do the entire “6 items rotated” think right in Inkscape, but that wasn’t the goal here.)

Horse Flake

What about the old nag? No, I’m not taking about your mother-in-law (kidding!) but this fine old horse from OpenClipArt.org, where I get many of the SVG files I use. Export this as an STL file and you’re ready to print it on your RepRap!

If you’ve got an improvement to this OpenSCAD code, by all means, let me know. I’m still very much in the learning phase with OpenSCAD, so I do these things to learn, and because of that I’m open to any suggestions.

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