I went to Ross-on-Wye yesterday where my son Luke has a lovely organic food shop, Field Fayre.
The town has started having a craft market on Saturdays; Field Fayre has some homemade items and I thought we might sell some of the MixPly models. That did happen but the day was slow regarding sales. But it was most enjoyable sitting in the Spring sunshine. I made some posters and a banner for the stall.
Four boats (more soon) and one helicopter, lots of fun assembling these toys, lots of fun playing with them. Available here, etsy and ebay for just £12 each kit including postage, they are ideal presents for girls and boys.
A trip through the rain to Basically Wooden in Devon to collect many laser-cut toy boats, ready for packaging and hopefully for some sales. Sue and Andrew at Basically Wooden design, laser-cut and assemble fine objects for the gaming world, and some other items. They have just made a new dice tower, really lovely. They use quite a lot of fine, detailed engraving, something I have avoided with these toys.
My toy/models have moving doors and a working winch. They are suitable for children over 3 (small parts), come with visual instructions, glue (not strictly necessary but makes a more permanent toy), and string for the winch. I am selling on Etse and ebay , £11.95 each including UK postage, add £3 for postage worldwide. Buy all five for £50, (plus £5 for shipping outside the UK).
Yours for just £9.95, introductory offer while stocks last. This press-out version is supplied with pva glue.
3mm plywood, laser-cut and sanded on both sides, approx 20cm x 10cm. Instructions included. Contains small parts so not suitable for children under 3. Assembly may need adult assistance. Free postage in the UK, £3 for the European Union.
Working on a steampunk design for a helicopter, I have struggled the last few days to get a look that will translate to plywood. The devil really is in the detail. My plywood laser-cut toys are plain and unadorned but steampunk is not about clean lines.
I spent a while this morning drawing this window in the style of an old diving helmet, here as a .png file (WordPress won’t allow vector files, if anyone wants a copy let me know and I will send).
Affinity Designer is perfectly adequate for 2D drawing like this.
Printing documents that are larger than A4 can be a pain. I find Windows to be way behind the mac in this respect, and most of the cheaper apps don’t have printer dialogue boxes that can handle this.
So third party apps would seem to be the way, but are there any? I tried Wrapcandy Poster – it crashed repeatedly; Easy Poster Printer£2.09 from Microsoft Store but it is a weak and feeble thing which does not print to the correct size. Gimp is supposed to be able to handle poster but it is difficult to work through, I couldn’t get a result.
Then, having wasted about 40 sheets of A4, (even printing both sides) I discovered that Acrobat Reader now has poster print ability. Not the best print dialogue box but it worked and produced an 18 sheet print that was the correct size. So two cheers for Adobe, who I have little time for, generally.
Affinity Designer, Photo and Publisher all lack the ability to print posters, which is a glaring omission.
I have been using Affinity Designer (AD) to make instruction sheets for my plywood construction toys – a process which often seems more painstaking than designing the things themselves.
These are vector files – raster files become huge and slow – and were originally created in Illustrator using the 3D function. But they original won’t open in AD because it wasn’t saved with an associated .pdf, AD can’t make sense of it.
So I took the 3D raster (.jpeg) and traced it using Inkscape then had a vector file I could edit in AD. Whew.
The lack of a trace function in AD is a serious oversight on the part of Serif Eu.
My files are laser cut, currently by Basically Wooden in east Devon and to be accepted by the cutter software they should be in .dxf – drawing exchange format, the most commonly used in Computer Aided Design (CAD), in AutoCad and AutoDesk. These file types are used for CNC routers, plasma cutting, laser cutting, engraving and waterjet cutting, &c. So for a vector drawing program to be useful it should be able to save in this form, unfortunately Affinity Designer cannot do so. Once again Inkscape comes to the rescue, it can accept vectors from AD and save them in .dxf.
But this comes at a cost: file sizes are changed, checks and adjustments must be made and all this adds time and complexity. So I feel Serif Eu. need to get .dxf format added asap if they want to take on the big players. I’m looking forward to an upgrade.
I have been using Affinity Designer (AD) to correct and amend five files – plywood model boats and helicopter, which means opening the Adobe Illustrator .ai file, working on it then ‘Exporting‘ it in .svg format, AD can only Save in it’s own format, .afdesign. This is a weakness in the AD setup and doesn’t make much sense, to me. Files can be exported – just another way of saving – in a wide range of formats, so why not put that function under the Save drop-down? Also, files cannot be saved as .ai – Adobe Illustrator, which is after all the most common low-end vector app.
Those are minor niggles and don’t affect functionality. The lack of a Trace function is a serious issue and a quick check on the Affinity forums shows no signs of any upgrade in the near future. The AD support forums suggest using Inkscape, which is freeware and works pretty well, but has a rather awkward user interface, and this suggestion merely shows the weakness of AD in this important area.
The ability to Trace the outline of a bitmap – raster – object, and then convert it to a vector is one I frequently used in Illustrator and which was high on the agenda at college, it’s an an essential tool. The whole point of apps like these is to use vectors rather than rasters; accuracy, ease of scaling, small file size are among the advantages. AD has plenty of strengths, the user interface is second to none and the assistant, which runs quietly in the background is excellent. I hope Trace gets added soon.
This model is one of four laser-cut boats which I will soon be cutting a batch of, ready to sell. Having recently tidied up the .svg file of this boat – a trawler – using Affinity Designer I thought it would be fun to see if I could add a livery of sorts. I have printed peel-off stickers before and used them for a helicopter, so I revised this set in Affinity Photo ready to print.
But why bother to do this then re-photograph the model when I can just add them virtually? And as I am learning this software this is a good opportunity to try a little perspective distortion. The livery is for my son’s lovely organic food shop, Field Fayre in Ross-on-Wye, England. I actually prefer the models without stickers but they are a selling point, I hope.
No difficulty at all using the distortion/perspective tool in Affinity Photo, accessed through the Filters and I felt it was easier than Photoshop. Now to check and tidy the three other boats .svg files, remove overlapping lines, unnecessary points and so on. If you use a vector drawing app you will know what I mean. No problems at all so far with Affinity Designer, just the usual learning curve but on the whole I find it well structured and logical. I did struggle to change line dimensions from points to millimetres – change the Document – but that’s all.
I have been using Affinity Designer to draw the re-modeled plywood ‘copter, no problems at all although I am still finding my way around. One tool it does not have is 3D view or the ability to move objects around all three planes. This is a useful feature of Illustrator although it can be frustratingly difficult to use. Still, as I don’t subscribe to Adobe products any longer I must find another way.
There are some pretty good 3D apps around, Tinkercad is an on-line one that uses ‘primitives’, basic shapes which you can use to build up complex models; Mesh Mixer and Autodesk 123D are both free and powerful. But sometimes it is just quicker and easier to sketch by hand and colour with watercolours.
So having completed the 2D drawing and checked until my eyes were sore for errors, I sent it to Cut & Burn, laser cutters in East Devon.