Decals using computer question - arising from UP's new direction

On 12/30/03 11:21 PM, in article snipped-for-privacy@mb-m17.aol.com, "JCunington"


MS Paint? MS Photo Editor? I don't get your banter, man.
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Brian Ehni


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the
y'understand.
I've been using Paint Shop Pro. It would seem to me that just about any decent paint program will do decals. The main hurdle is designing them at the right size for printing. You don't always want to take a raw image and shrink it with JPEG - you can get artifacts that way. I would start with JPEG, so that you can have access to anti-aliasing, and then save in GIF format, which will take the current colors used (including the anti-aliasing shades) and reduce to 256 colors, max... but with no artifacting.
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Frank Eva
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Frank Eva wrote:

Neither JPEG or GIF were ever intended to be formats suitable for printing. Both are intended for the presentation of graphics or images on the web, at a reasonable size without sacrificing too much resolution. The artifacts you mention are a fact of life if you attempt to print from JPEGs, as they are a byproduct of the compression that takes place when creating the file. The 256 colours used in GIFs are web palette colours, which don't reproduce all that well on RGB/CYMK printers.
If you wish to produce good quality artwork for logos and car lettering, dispense with the bitmap/pixel editing applications, get a vector drawing application, and save the files in either the program's native format, or EPS/TIFF, depending on the printer used to output the file. Lasers are typically EPS - Encapsulated PostScript - compatible, while inkjet printers are good at handling TIFF images, or native formats for such programs as Illustrator or FreeHand. Scaling the image can be done within most applications without conversion to JPEG.
Another way of improving the quality of your artwork is to use only PostScript fonts for lettering rather than bitmap fonts. An advantage of using a vector application with PS fonts is the ability to edit and modify the letters individually, if you so desire.
I have had a Mac since they came on the market here in the mid 80s, and have been a long time user of applications like Illustrator and FreeHand for exactly this sort of work. I've also used CorelDRAW, and wouldn't recommend it to <anybody>, but that's a matter of personal taste. I've toyed with applications like Canvas, and others, but have insufficient experince of them to make any judgements about their suitability.
If you're a WintelPC user, there are PC versions of these applications, and others that are suitable as well. There will no doubt be someone on r.m.r. with experince of this platform who can advise you.
All the best,
Mark.
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While I agree with most of what Mark says, like sticking with TIFF or the native format of your Vector Editing software.
I must say that after testing both Illustrator and Corel Draw back in 2000, I selected Corel Draw and it has suited all my needs.
I am just getting back into model railroading and I am certain that I can create quality decals with Corel Draw when the time comes.
Both Illustrator and Draw have steep learning curves. There is a new company out there, Media Chance from Ottawa Canada, they have a program called Real Draw Pro. It is $55.00 US, but don't let the price fool you, it is a powerful program, I test drove it this summer and if I did not already own Corel Draw I would now be a Real Draw Pro user. I still may buy it as it is easier to learn and sometimes faster to use.
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Will
HO - Credit Valley Railway
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snipped-for-privacy@CreditValley.Railway wrote:

No doubt it does. And I will readily admit that my opinion of CorelDRAW is entirely subjective.
Ultimately you should choose software applications that you are comfortable using, and that are appropriate to your individual needs. My wife uses CorelDRAW extensively, and swears by it. I swear at it! :-)

Reckon! But in my case, I was thrown in at the deep end producing safety documentation, so I had no choice but to learn Illustrator fast.
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Vector apps are best, but it's fine to work with bitmaps if your bitmaps are large enough. I say this only because it's a whole other system to learn if you're going to start out on vector graphics, not to mention new apps to buy (many bitmap editors are cheap or even free). It's just not completely necessary, though if you really want the most flexibility, it's the way to go.
The thing about model railroad decals is that you're usually printing them at very small physical sizes, so you can use very high resolutions and still have manageable file sizes (and small enough memory footprints when they're open and uncompressed). Printing a 300dpi bitmap would get you a perfect decal if you're using the right printer, and you could even go higher than that if your PC's got the memory and hard drive space for it (hard drive space if you're really planning to do a lot of decals - it'd still take a while to fill up an 80 or 120GB hard drive). It takes a fair bit of memory to work on high resolution bitmaps like this, with many different layers (don't even think of less than 512MB, and 1GB or more is recommended), but you can get perfect quality without learning a new way of doing things.
Obviously, if you use bitmaps you don't ever want to save as jpeg. You generally want to save in whatever the native format is for the application you're using - if it's Photoshop, that would be psd, for example. You'll want to preserve your layers and use non-lossy compression - which is what these native file formats do.
I've never printed my own decals (and doubt I ever will) but I work with bitmaps all the time as part of my job and in my free time. The only real tricks to it are making sure your bitmaps are large enough (by that I mean high resolution - "internally" large) and making sure you preserve all the data when saving out. Working in vector is still better, but just not completely necessary if you're already set up and know how to use bitmap apps.
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On 12/30/03 10:38 PM, in article snipped-for-privacy@corp.supernews.com, "Dave"

Straight text in any word processor; graphics in any graphics program.
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Brian Ehni


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On Wed, 31 Dec 2003 06:55:07 -0600, Brian Paul Ehni

You can get Photoshop Elements for around a hundred bucks, that will do anything you could want as far as decals are concerned. There are other shareware and freeware programs as well. If you can post a question here you have the knowledge to find a graphics program on the net.
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Another program is AutoSketch. Its usually under a $100US and you can design at 1:1 scale. That's nice if you've taken measurements from the prototype. No problems with background because there isn't one. When you print, just select your scale factor 1/87, 1/48, etc.
Jim
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Designing and printing in scale is my biggest stumbling block. Do you have the name of the folks who publish this program, and perhaps a URL to their website?
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Frank Eva
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Frank (and others),
Designing in scale is easy enough if you just take it one step at a time...
1. Measure the prototype... let's say it is 9" tall 2. Divide that by your modeling scale. In my case, that's HO, so, 9"/87=.103 3. In most drawing programs, you have to choose a DPI setting; that's dots (or pixels) per inch. My ALPS outputs at 600dpi, so I use that for the sharpest results. Now multiply the dpi seting by the deximal from Step 2 and you get 61.8 or 62. So... the measurement in pixels is 62 high or wide, whichever way your measurement went.
Give it a try and I think you will find that it's pretty easy.
Another thing that I do is to have a "blank" carside saved on my computer. Whenever I create any lettering design, I create it on that car side. That way, you can tell immediately if it "looks" right.
If you are still interested but still a bit confused, contact me via my email address and we can dig a little deeper...
dlm --------------------------------------

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----- Original Message -----
Newsgroups: rec.models.railroad Sent: Wednesday, December 31, 2003 1:20 PM Subject: Re: Decals using computer question - arising from UP's newdirection

dots
wide,
That
How do you create the car side? Manually, by measuring the prototype?
BTW, thanks for the explanation!!!
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Frank Eva
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Frank Eva wrote:

[snip]
I don't know how Dan does it, but what I do first when making s decal set or laying out the lettering for a kit is take a ruler and a set of calipers to the model and make an actual-size drawing of the car, including the key details (rivet lines, sill tabs, grabs, accessory hardware, etc.). I save it as a separate file, so that I can re-use the drawing as a base for later projects. Then, I copy it and place it on a drawing layer beneath the one I use to lay out the decal artwork. CorelDRAW makes this easy.
Not only does having the car drawing make it easier to lay out the artwork while developing it, it gives me something I can use as the lettering diagram for any of the sets I wish to sell. Often I end up spending as much time on the instruction sheet as I do laying out the decal artwork itself.
-fm Producer of Michigan-prototype HO decals, at http://www.wyomingyard.com/decals
The address in the header of this message is deliberately bogus to foil address-harvesters. See my web sites for my real address.
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And how do you scale the drawing on the computer screen?

Hey, you do good work!
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Frank Eva
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Frank Eva wrote:

[snip]
CorelDRAW shows measurements and positions on the screen in actual inches, so once I've taken the measurements from the car, I just draw it out actual size. It's especially nice for repeated patterns like wood siding: To fill a car side with a pattern of wood siding .03" wide, I draw a line the height of the car side, select it, then use CorelDRAW's Position command to place a copy of it .03" to the left or the right of the original line. Then repeat. This provides nicely-spaced siding.
An example of the sort of diagram I come up with by doing this would be the placement instructions for the haggis reefer, at http://www.wyomingyard.com/haggiscar/graphics/rmr1diag.pdf
The rest of the Haggis Reefer Decal Project site can be found at http://www.wyomingyard.com/haggiscar

Thanks! I'm having a lot of fun with this. I just have to slow down on the new sets until I can finish a couple more models to photograph for the site (specifically the Ludington & Northern and Kendallville Terminal SW8s).
-fm Producer of Michigan-prototype HO decals, at http://www.wyomingyard.com/decals
The address in the header of this message is deliberately bogus to foil address-harvesters. See my web sites for my real address.
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Fritz Milhaupt wrote:

I also use CorelDraw for decal layouts, but I like to use a photo if at all possible. Here's an example of a work in progress:
http://home.mindspring.com/~macindoe/Mattesons.jpg
It's a P2k 8,000 gallon type 21 tank car picture from their web site, with the color added to suit. I have also taken my own pictures of models (at highest zoom and from a distance to flatten it out as much as possible). Import the photo and draw a line on some characteristic dimension, such as the overall length of the tank. Then group the line and the bit map and measure the tank on the model. Then scale the line and bit map until the line length matches the measurement. In this case I had to separate the ladder out as an object, since the lettering is behind it.
I guess if you had a photo of a prototype you were trying to match, you could use a similar method.
This car is fictional, my father-in-law's former home heating oil delivery company gone big business. Hoping to score some points with these.
Bill MacIndoe
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With Paint Shop Pro, I simply figure out the size of the original model (not prototype) then multiply this by the dpi setting that I'm using. For instance, let's just "say" that a 40' car in HO scale is 6" long and 1.25" high. I do all of my artwork at 600dpi because that's the output of the ALPS. So... 6 x 600 = 3600 and 1.25 x 600 = 750; I make a "New Image" that is 3600 pixels long and 750 pixels high. The rest of the details you can rough in the same way... if the doors are 2.5" from one end, just multiply 2.5 x 600 and start drawing the door at the 1500th pixel. The program will give you the doordinates of the cursor, so this is pretty easy to do.
If my enthusiasm shows, I'm sorry... I really like doing this. A side benefit is that I've learned my way around a drawing program that has helped me in my career as well. : )
dlm
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(not
that
will
Thanks for the tips! PSP is the program I use the most in preparing photos for my website!
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That's much more elaborate than what I do... I got my idea from Russ Clover's "Clover House" catalog where he talks about Lettering Area as that area on the side of a car where lettering can easily be applied.
So, for instance on a wooden reefer (I have a weakness for wooden billboard reefers), I measure from the top trim board to the bottom sill, then deduct about 1/8th of an inch to give myself some room to "play." Next, I measure the car's length. I make a "blank" of this size, then use the program to add a boarder in a contrasting color. Then I simply rough in the location of the ladders, grab irons and the doors. For reference purposes, the area in the doors makes a great place to store details about the drawing since very few schemes actually have artwork on the door area.
I use the same basic process for boxcars, gondolas & hoppers, etc. It's none too scientific, but it gets me the desired end result.
If you are working with a simplier drawing program that doesn't allow for layers, simply use this blank car drawing for each project. After you start, do a "Save As" and save your work under another name. This preserves the original. When you are done with your artwork, simply go through and erase/remove any & all signs of the car outline & details then move your artwork elements (pieces) together to save some space on your decal paper when printing. All I'm saying here is that if you have a 40' car with only some reporting marks and a small, say 6' logo, there's no use in "printing" 30' of blank decal paper. Move them together and you can get several more pieces of artwork on the same sheet of decal paper.
If you are printing multiple sets for the same type of car, don't forget to change your car numbers on the original. It is a whole lot easier moving numbers around on the computer screen than moving small pieces of decal around on a car side!
One final suggestion... you may consider it wasteful, but I print three pieces of artwork for each car... two sides and the third for the inevitable screw-up that you KNOW will happen if you only print two! : )
dlm

newdirection
computer.
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wrote:

http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/index?siteID 3112&id'53027
Keith Make friends in the hobby. Visit <http://www.grovenor.dsl.pipex.com/ Garratt photos for the big steam lovers.
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