When I lent my services to a collegue who was working on a film about 12 years ago, I was introduced to the world of cnc. I remember watching this huge machining centre milling out a slab of mdf and turning it into a fantastic set of gears. I knew that it would have taken me hours to achieve the same thing with traditional power tools. I decided then that I would invest in a cnc router for my own business Oxenham Design. At that time I could turn on a computer, but even to check email seemed like a crazy set of operations. I persevered and learned every piece of relevant software I could get my hands on. I am now fortunate enough to be using Vectric's ASPIRE software, and Techno cnc routers, which has helped us to create some amazing projects, both in part, or in full. I thought that this blog would be a great place to share "behind the scenes" adventures with the software, materials and equipment we use, as well as the projects we build.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Another Tutorial

I have been putting off doing some stuff that I will take with me to some upcoming events I have been lucky enough to guest speak at. The first one is the Ontario User Group Meeting in Guelph on the 15th. So in preparation for this event, I am going to give a tutorial on making a model in Aspire. This should keep my skills sharpened as well! In this next run of tuts, I am going to cover creating textures from scratch, as well as distorting them and applying them to our model. Once we build the model, It can be saved for future projects, but any skills that are acquired in the process can be used on a daily basis with Aspire.

Our project this time is going to be a grouping of 3 cartoon wooden pylons with rope tying them together.

The first step in the process is to create our cartoon wood texture. I could have found a nice woodgrain image online, but the pickings were slim for cartoon life!
I used Photo shop for this part. If you don't have PS, there are other free programs that can be used to create what we need. GIMP is the first one to come to mind.
I start by opening a new 12" wide by 6" high file in PS. I set the DPI to 72 to keep it light on resources. I also opened it as a greyscale image as Aspire converts all the images to this when making a component anyways. Next I took the lasso tool, and with 'anti-alias' checkbox checked, and the feather set to 2px, I started at the bottom left area and drew a smoothish wavy line across the page, then up to the top right, then top left, and then released the mouse button. The lasso tool will connect the start and finish of it's path with a straight line, closing the loop. It should look like the image above when you are done.

I then chose the brush tool, set the size to 41, the hardness to 0, and the opacity and flow set to 100%. I didn't use straight black, but just under halfway to white is a good start. Now draw the brush across the wavy selection, making sure that the brush stays approximately down the middle of the selection outline. This will let the brush stroke fade to white on the top, but be cut off hard at the bottom by the selection outline. If you click any of the images, you will get a much larger/ clearer view of it.
Now we do the very same steps over again, just above the first one. Feel free to vary from what I've done, you may like your results better!

 And over, and over again. You will notice that I am starting to squish the grain together in the middle, this is where we will draw a knot later. Spend some time having a look at woodgrain images online, just to get a feel for how they work.

 I have continued to progress along with the grain, leaving the 'hole' for my knot.

 The knot was first drawn with the lasso tool, then with the same brush settings, I just kissed the edge, slightly darkening the outside of the selection. Now just draw a smaller lasso selection inside that and use the brush tool the same way again.. Finally, I switched the brush down to a size 4-7, and drew the little splits in the knot.

 Now when Aspire converts an image to a relief, it basically interprets the dark values as being lower in height than the lighter values. True black being the lowest, and true white being the highest. I could have just drawn the image with a light brush on a black backgound, but I have a better feel for drawing the way we did. So instead, I just open the "IMAGE-ADJUSTMENTS-CURVES" dropdown menu and reverse the light and dark values as in the image above.

 Here is the final 'Toon-Grain' ready to save and import into Aspire. Tomorrow I will cover the importing and converting our drawing to a relief, as well as drawing our 3D pylons and rope model. I love this stuff!!!

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