Posts tagged ‘gel pens’
I’ve covered Rapid Resizer before but I want to go into more detail on one of its most useful features, the centerline trace. Let’s say we want to take a line drawing and sketch it with gel pens in our diecutter. If we trace it in our cutting software we will get a double line trace, and our sketch will not look natural. What we need is a way to trace down the center of the line. Rapid Resizer gives us an easy way to do this.
Find an image you want to trace. I picked this coloring book image of dolphins and downloaded it.
Next I opened the Rapid Resizer Raster to Vector Online Converter and clicked the Choose File button and navigated to the image I just downloaded. Select centerline trace from the first pulldown box and SVG from the second (you can also choose DXF if you do not have Silhouette Studio Designer Edition or another program that can open SVGs). Click the trace button.
If you chose SVG, you will see the results of the trace on the next screen. Right click to choose Save File or go to the File menu and choose Save Page As (this may vary slightly depending on your browser) and name and save the SVG to the location of your choice.
Open the SVG in your cutting software and prepare to draw as you would any other SVG sketch file.
While Rapid Resizer is the easiest way I’ve found to do centerline traces, it is limited and won’t work well on all or even most images. The best centerline tracing options are Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw, but there are a couple of other free options. Kristy over at Craftermath has tutorials for the Autotrace web app and for Win Topo.
Now that the Silhouette SD has restored my faith in gel pen drawing with a digital diecutter, I’ve been testing various fonts for that single line look. To recap, many fonts will give a single line look at very small sizes (say a tenth of an inch high or less) but ones that look single line when drawn larger are harder to find. MTC has a cool feature to thin out regular fonts for a single line look but an algorithm is never going to match the aesthetics built in by a skilled typographer so the search continues.
I tested the fonts below with Staples mini gel pens, which have a very fine tip, in the Chomas Creations holder. You’ll get better results at smaller sizes and with broader tip pens such as metallic gel pens, for instance. A sample of my results are shown below. Click the image to enlarge it.
OK at ~ <1 inch tall
OK at ~ <.75 inches tall
OK at ~<.5 inches tall
OK at ~<.3 inches tall
OK at ~ <.25 inches tall
I’ve been waiting for a chance to post this card, but my busy summer has kept me away from the blogging. Thanks for your patience! There a several things I’ve been wanting to show you, all demonstrated in this simple card.
I found a beautiful free dingbat font of state birds that I thought would work great with gel pens and it gave me a great chance to see what I could do with my Silhouette SD and the gel pens and holder from Chomas Creations. As you know from my prior posts, I have been disappointed with the “jiggle” issue when using gel pens in the Cricut. Well, that problem goes away in the smooth drawing Silhouette, opening up all sorts of new possibilities. I love the look I got from the glittery metallic blue ink in the Chomas pens.
The South Carolina shape is from the Every State Cut It set from Lettering Delights. I used 2 identical files deleting the cut outline from one and the drawing image from the other since Silhouette Studio does not have layers. Otherwise the procedure is very similar to what I show in this older SCAL video.
The striped background was extracted from a discontinued Lettering Delights graphic set tag image that did not have a matching background paper or tile. For stripe patterns it is really simple to crop down to a short strip that contains a full repeat (see selection box in graphic below) to create an efficient, seamless tile that works wonderfully in Silhouette Studio, MTC and other programs that support tileable patterns.
Hope you’ll find something in this post you can use in your projects, especially since you had to wait all summer to hear from me.
Here’s a a new video on using Doodlebats from Lettering Delights with your Cricut and gel pens to digistamp. Sound is messed up so you’ll have to turn it all the way up.
Fonts shown in the video:
Some other good Doodlebats for gel pen digistamping:
- DB Beach Doodles
- DB Charlie Calendar
- DBT Grown Up Boys
- DBT Around the World
- DBT My Family
- DBT School Pals
- DB County Fair
- DB Girly Girl
- DB Everything Boy
- DB Teddies
- DB Greeting Card Doodles
Combining layers with the line styles feature in SCAL2 gives you lots of options to work with whether using gel pens or a scoring tool of some kind. Details in the video tutorial below.
All of these are available at fontspace.com. As with the last post, each is rendered at the largest size that will still appear filled in. I’m only printing a few letters of each now for these samples so as to save time and preserve ink.
Another batch of pre-filled fonts for your gel pen enjoyment. Be sure to test a letter or two with the font, size and pen you want before committing to the long drawing process. Take this from someone who has run out one gel pen in the process so far. When you look at the regular printed version of the font, you will see how very different they look rendered with gel pens, and this will help you learn to spot good candidates yourself.
I had a prior post where I gave a rather contorted procedure for filling in the fonts that you draw with Cricut markers, gel pens, etc. Today I had a better idea. Find fonts that already have a “fill” that works with the Cricut. So I tested a bunch of fonts with my gel pens and when one seemed promising, I reduced the size until the fill looked solid. Some look really nice with the crosshatch showing, as well. All of these are freebies from either fonts101.com or dafont.com.
Keep in mind that these take a long time to draw, so plan ahead. If you want to use markers instead of gel pens, there are many more options, or you can use the fonts above at even at larger sizes. Also see this previous post about single line fonts.
I have tried some more tests and find that I get less jiggle with the pastel and neon pens. My results are shown below. Notice that the Staples pastels show up better, but have a skipping problem. To print brighter with the Cri-Kit pens or cover over skipping with the Staples pens use multicut to draw over the lines a second time. (For reference, the top upper case ABC is 1/4 inch tall)
Looks like between Chomas Creations (Custom Crops and/or Staples pens) and Cri-Kits we have the gel pen holder conquered. Both holders and the pens that accompany them will do a fine job on small images cut directly from a cartridge as shown in the image below, drawn at 3/4 inches high.
There remains a significant problem when cutting from a computer however. I compared a Provocraft cartridge image with a similar, node optimized, SVG in SCAL and MTC. As you can see, all of the computer-driven versions have significant “jiggle” compared to the direct cartridge image. (Click on the picture to see the enlarged image, also drawn at 3/4 inches high.)
The Chomas holder with Staples pens seems to do a slightly better job with the computer-driven drawing than the Cri-Kits pen/holder (at least with the dark blue pens I tested) but the results at small sizes are still not very impressive with either. (For reference, the top upper case ABC is 1/4 inch tall)
It helps some to increase the size of your images. Here is the same node-optimized letter at about 1-1/2 inches high using 3 different pens. As you can see, the ballpoint Silhouette Sketch pens do not show the jiggling quite as much. It makes sense that the more free-flowing the ink, the more pronounced the jiggle is.
I also tested various speeds and pressures but could not see any improvement. I also tried optimized images (minimum nodes/control points) and polyline images (many nodes/control points) and the results were still unimpressive. My guess is that the disparity has to do with the coordinate systems for cartridge cutting (perfectly matched) versus computer-driven cutting (imperfect conversion). I am further convinced that this is a machine limitation because I’m told that the same files draw smoothly with a Silhouette cutter, and because no one else has been able to show me an SVG that cuts as smooth on a Cricut as a cartridge.
I also tested the Staples ink tube/tip in the Cri-Kits pen shell and vice-versa. You can enjoy using the inexpensive Staples pen innards as refills in your Cri-Kit holder, just turn up the pressure until you have contact with the paper. Unfortunately, the Cri-Kits ink tubes do not work in the Staples pen barrel, because the exposed tip is too long, even at minimum pressure.
BTW, there are lots of great gel pen ideas hitting the blogs right now like this post from my good friend PapaSue , this one from Denise at PaperPastime, this one from Shelly at Paper Flowers and this one from Samantha the Scrapmaster.