Archive for March, 2010

Video: Text on a path in SCAL 2

Here’s a video tutorial to show you how the text on a path tool works in SCAL2.

March 31, 2010 at 4:22 pm 47 comments

Video: Make a font in Inkscape

By popular demand, a video on how to create your own TrueType font with Inkscape.

Written instructions, files and more information here.

March 27, 2010 at 2:35 pm 16 comments

Generate custom hi-rez digipapers

ScrapColoring.com has been a favorite site of mine ever since it came on the scene, as I’ve been fascinated with what French developer Stéphane Gigandet has been doing with SVG. I immediately saw the potential, but the site had limitations preventing my extensive plans for using it from becoming fully realized. :) So naturally I began bombarding Stéphane with suggestions and requests. I am happy to report that he has come through on everything I asked, and the site has gone from very fun toy to digipaper powerhouse.

ScrapColoring’s Pattern Generator features 36 patterns from tartan plaid to zebra skin and any of them can be rendered in your choice of colors and at any of 5 pattern sizes, so you can pick the one that works with your project. Even though there are thousands, maybe millions, of free patterns available on the net, scaling them is always a problem, so this is a wonderful feature to have. Solids and gradient fills are available as well. The recent addition of a full color palette and the ability to download the results in a .png file large enough to print a 12 x 12 page at 300 dpi makes this a dream come true for digipaper enthusiasts.

Not only can you download printable full sheets, but I’ve come up with an easy technique to generate multiple swatches on a page using ScrapColoring’s “Convert images to coloring pages” feature. For instance, to generate a set of 4 matching patterns on one page, I simply uploaded a .jpg with lines dividing the page into 4 equal quadrants.

Why is this so cool? Cricut owners will quickly recognize the 4 quadrants as a useful way to load different colors of paper on the mat. Well, now you can print your own solid, gradient or patterned paper for each quadrant onto a single sheet of paper! Sometimes I just use the quadrants to see how I like the different patterns together, as in the image below.

And we’re not limited to full sheets or quadrants but to any custom configuration we can imagine and upload. Not only that, but once you upload your custom template, a link is generated so you can go back to it or share it with others if you like (copyright restrictions apply, of course). My mind is racing with ideas for how this capability might be used:

  • Generate “fabrics” for paper doll clothing, or patterns for scale modeling, in the scale and amount needed.
  • Layout small areas of a pattern or color to do the intricate layered pieces of a Disney cartridge Cricut cut on one sheet of paper. Perfectly scaled gradients in the right hands would be spectacular for this.
  • Easily color a coloring-book style digistamp or lettering digitally, or just preview/plan your colors before coloring by hand.
  • Make custom paper so that each panel of a card, box, purse etc. would have it’s own color or pattern.
  • Upload a digital card or layout sketch and fill with colors or patterns as a proof sample or to print. (For these last 3, a workaround to remove or tone down the black dividing lines may be necessary.)

The only drawback I have found so far is that ScrapColoring.com’s new color picker has no numerical reference for the colors, so it is impossible to use a Kuler color palette (which non-artists like me rely heavily on), for instance, or to recreate a color you used earlier.

So head on over to ScrapColoring.com and see what ideas you come up with. Don’t forget to leave a little love for Stéphane while you are there.

March 26, 2010 at 4:07 pm 7 comments

SCAL and MTC both get major updates

Craftedge released on update of SureCutsALot that brings Mac users up to parity with their Windows counterparts and also adds such features as text on a path, open path cutting and line styles.

Make the Cut also released version 2.2.0 which features a rebuild of the interface, layers capability the ability to cut to a number of other cutters besides the Cricut through a full color print function. This version of Make the Cut also features the long promised and somewhat controversial feature that allows owners of Cricut Design Studio to back up the images in the carts they own to SVG files.

My comparison chart has been updated. Get the PDF version here.

March 17, 2010 at 3:22 pm 11 comments

Which vinyl do I need?

This is such a common question among diecutter users that I made a flow chart to answer the question. Now get out there and cut some vinyl!

Download the PDF version here.

March 9, 2010 at 12:45 pm 32 comments

Make printable die cut blanks

I have been experimenting with using transfer tape as a carrier to make pre-cut blanks for printing. It is great for printing on odd-shaped cards, for making Avery-compatible blanks and, I’m sure, for other stuff I haven’t thought of yet.

To do this with 12 x 12 stock, here are the (very) general steps. Put tape on the back of your paper, load it onto the mat tape side down and kiss-cut your design along with an 8.5 x 11 rectangle surrounding it which will be the outer edge of your printer page. Remove the new page (with diecuts and tape intact) and use it to develop or verify a matching print template. When you are satisfied with the print design, load the sheet of die cut blanks into the printer and print. Peel the printed die cut off of the tape backing.

An odd-shaped design from Wild Card:

Page of Doodlecharms bus shapes made to print on with Avery business card templates:

The process is a little more labor intensive up front than other methods of cut and print, but less so for subsequent runs any time in the future. Accuracy is excellent this way because you take advantage of the tight tolerances of your printer and eliminate the sloppy tolerances of the Cricut. You do need commercial transfer tape because contact paper or painters tape can damage your paper. I had success with both clear and paper transfer tape and was able to reuse it several times.

You may be wondering if this will work with a Xyron to make die cut printable stickers. Well, possibly, but the backing on the Xyron sheets is too slippery to stick to the mat so you’d have to tape it down. You would also have to recut the rectangle after you remove it from the mat to trim off the backing that extends beyond the page boundary. Guess you could cut it in 2 passes, with kiss cut settings for the design and again with cut through settings for the page boundary.

March 5, 2010 at 7:40 pm 30 comments


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