Categories
Software

Poster printing

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.

Categories
Toy

Affinity Designer failures

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.

 

 

Categories
Software

Affinity Designer, Illustrator, Inkscape

Affinity Designer Export choices

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.

 

Categories
Toy

Plywood Model Trawler

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.

 

 

Categories
Toy

Model Helicopter

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.

3D exploded model helicopter drawn in Illustrator and modified in Affinity Photo

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.

Categories
Software

Affinity and beyond

I recently bought Affinity Photo, a graphics app that costs just £50 and will accept many Photoshop plug-ins.  As with most software this means a learning period during which novel combinations of swear words can be heard echoing from Miller Towers.  But thankfully this has been minimal with Affinity Photo, which is well designed, pretty intuitive, has all the tools and power I require and can do almost everything Photoshop does and some things better.  I’m a quite experienced user of this sort of software having been publishing stuff since the BBC Micro days of the 1980s, on several hardware platforms (including the beloved Amiga 500 and the 1200).  Affinity has emerged from the old Serif  (parent) company and seems to have a similar fair-price philosophy. 

 

So having tried it for a few weeks along with a freebie, the beta version of Affinity Publisher (a desk top publishing app) and been pretty pleased with the results I decided to dig into the usually hermetically sealed wallet and bought the third of the trilogy of apps, Affinity Designer.

Affinity Publisher beta, free for now

The motivation for all this is financial, to get away from the rapacious Adobe and their over-priced products.  Adobe have a near-monopoly in UK art schools and elsewhere, as well as with designers, photographers and artists, and a few years ago they began exploiting that to the max.  They did this with subscription pricing which forces customers to pay them forever, and pay them plenty.

Serif have spotted an opportunity and produced three fixed price products which will do everything most users want, for less than one years payment to Adobe!  Adobe are not the only ones at this racket, Microsoft exploit their monopoly with out any check even though other products, such as the free Open Office, perform just as well for most users.  But it seems that the big companies and their lure of cheap software – cheap for the school –  has got the educational institutions in a fierce grip somewhere below the waist.  Time that grip was broken.

Affinity Designer is a vector drawing app and seems to have some cross-over functions into the raster graphic area.  Like the other apps it is available for Windows, Mac and the iPad.  I have a Win10 Surface Pro which I use with as a tablet and docked as a desktop, so I will be testing these apps with a pen as well as mouse/keyboard.  Plenty of blurb on the Affinity site about Designer, but it is the things that are missing – there’s always something – which will be most revealing I expect.  I will write more fully when I have tried it out.

 

Categories
Toy

Modeling with foamboard

I love using foamboard, cheap of course but it’s main attraction for me is the speed at which I can work – I am an impatient person, at times.

One of the laser-cut plywood construction models I make is a helicopter and as a flat pack it fits on a 30cm square.  But this is too big for letter boxes and the rest of my model/toys fit on three or four A5 sheets.  So a bit of remodeling is called for.

I started with a new blade in the Stanley knife but the tip was quickly blunted on the cutting board.  I was using 5mm foamboard but the actual model is 3mm ply so some of the dimensions are a little off.  Luckily foamboard is very forgiving and can be trimmed easily or just squeezed into the space.  The small pieces are not really needed to prove the changes but it is nice to see the thing as it will look.  Now to get to work in Inkscape, a free vector drawing app, and make the changes to the .svg file.  Once that is done I will print out the revised file on thick card, cut out the pieces and check for fit,  then, if all  seems good send the file to Cut & Burn in Exmouth and get the prototype in a day or two, hopefully without any mistakes on my part.

 

Categories
art

Joyful

On those occasions when I need cheering up – such as after reading the news each morning – I don’t have to look far. These images are by or of my granddaughter Evie, now aged 7, dating from two or three years ago.

Categories
cartoon

Cultural Exports….

Just a thought as the long nights draw in…

Cultural exports, Happy Halloween!

 

Categories
textiles

Welcome to Fukushima

This was my final piece for the MA Multi-Disciplinary Printmaking an it is currently half on display at the Royal West of England gallery as part of their annual open exhibition.  I say half because although I submitted it as a sculpture and wanted it shown in the whole it has been placed against a black curtain.  Still we do what we can and endure what we must.

The work references Japanese Boro coats, hand-me-downs that were patched repeatedly and passed on to succeeding generations.  In the later half of the 20thC they became collectable and examples can be found in museums and galleries, such as Sri, prices on application!  Interestingly the V & A gallery in London has a, ‘Make your own: Japanese ‘Boro’ bag‘ .pdf instruction.

There are many examples of Boro on pinterest, and some excellent information courtesy of Heddels.