I do most of my design in Adobe Illustrator. When I'm designing a part I usually make up the parts with boxes, these are quick to draw and easy to edit. The piece here is the upper arm. It is a little rough and ready but is the layout I'm using for the final model. Now to convert it into a usable piece of artwork.
The first thing I added are the guidelines to construct the tabs on the top of the arm piece. I made a V shaped line on either side of a central line...
...then copied it six times rotating it 30° each time.
With the guidelines faded into the background I drew on the tabs. The guidelines ensured that they were neat and evenly spaced.
I then copied the tabs and modified them to fit above the right hand side of the arm. I then completed the outline of the part so that it is a single line incorporating both sets of tabs.
To finish off the part I added the dashed fold lines and grey areas where glue is to be applied.
I then printed out the part, scored the crease lines and cut it out.
And here's the finished thing. Once I'm happy that the rest model goes together properly I'll add colour to the Illustrator file.
The rest of the parts with our new part in place.
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The scales texture in the sssnake! project was created with the aid of a splendid new tool from Astute Graphics. Collider Scribe is a £10 add-on for Adobe Illustrator designed to help lining up and arranging objects in your illustrator projects. It make short work of arranging these various sized circles so that their edges are accurately touching. Here's how.
Create a long thin shape for the snakes body. Draw out some circles of decreasing size. These will be used as a the scales. I used the same fill colour as the body and a lighter colour set at 2pt for the stroke.
<Shift> drag a row of the larger circles up the centre of the body. This is where the Collider Scribe tool comes in. As I shift drag a shape it snaps into position onto any shapes it comes near, This makes it really easy to position shapes so that they are just touching.
Use the Collider Scribe tool to fill in the remaining shapes positioning larger circles in the centre and smaller shapes towards the edges. Let Collider Scribe snap them into position for you!
Once the body is full of circles it is time to change their hues. I used this free script to change the colours randomly. Download it and save it to your computer. Select all the circles, but not the background then select File -> Scripts -> Other Scripts and select the Vary Hues script from your computer.
This is the result after running the script with and input value of 25.
Complete the snake skin by adding a clipping mask to trim off any excess circles.
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I've been working on a project using a crank and pushrod. I use a disk with a circular hole to link the crank shaft to push rod. Adding a tab helps make the join strong. It is fairly straightforward to create the shapes required in Illustrator, It just needs a circle with a circular hole and a rectangle for the tab. Select all the parts and click on the first Pathfinder button to make a single outline.
Adding these curved corners make the part stronger and easier to cut out.
The problem being that adding a curved corner isn't as simple as is looks. You need to construct a circle. Fit it into place. Cut out the arc. Cut the.... etc etc
That's where VectorScribe comes in. This set of plug-ins for Illustrator is produced by Astute Graphics. It comes with a variety of tools that I've found really useful in the construction of projects. The tool I've used here is the Dynamic Corner Tool. It is really simple to use. Select the tool (circled). Click on the corner where you want to add a curve. Boom. Done. You can resize the radius of the curve by dragging the small circle at the end of the red arrows. This tool has been really, really useful. If you design paper toys, go get it.
Here's the end result and a pic showing the part fitted to a crank.
While you're at the Astute Graphics website check out my webcomic robot tutorial :-)
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Chameleon skin is spotty. Lots of spots, lots of colours. I'm no Seurat so the idea of hand drawing hundreds of different coloured spots didn't appeal. I've already started experimenting with a script to do the job for me within Illustrator, more of which here. I've made a couple of modifications to the script to change the colours of the spots as well as changing their lightness and applied the result to this eye piece. Looking good so far!
Don't panic! I'll release the code again when I'm happy with the completed script.
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Thinking ahead here and making plans on how to make the Chameleon skin texture. The thought of individually drawing hundreds of little circles all slightly different size and colour didn't fill me with joy. Then I remembered this article that I had read recently about making a starry sky look random.
Designer Iaroslav Lazunov has written a couple of scripts to randomly change the size and opacity of objects selected in Illustrator. Almost what I was after but I really wanted to scatter the dots around a bit as well so, with Iaroslav's script as an inspiration, I cracked open my text editor and wrote Jitter.js (Right click and click on Save As... I've released it under creative commons so it is free for anyone to use)
Here's how it works.
Start with a grid of dots. If you have Astute Graphic's Phantasm then your work is half done, just create a rectangle and convert it using the halftone tool. If not, you can create a row of circles by repeated copying to make a row then copy the rows to create a grid. It works best with this alternating layout.
If you are using Phantasm you'll need to Object -> Expand Appearance to separate out the dots and then make sure that they are not grouped by clicking <Ctrl><Shift><G>
It'll then look something like the picture below. If you are not using Phantasm, select all the circles with the selection tool.
Here's where the script magic comes in. Go to File->Scripts->Other Scripts... and navigate to where you saved the jitter.js file that you download above.
Three boxes will appear asking you for three variables. These are all 1-100 numbers. The script is rough and ready so there is no error checking. Make sure you stick within the range.
Max Offset: I entered 5. The script takes each dot in turn and moves it left or right and up or down by a random amount up to the Max Offset you enter.
Min Opacity: I entered 50. The script sets the opacity of each circle to a random number between Min Opacity% and 100%
Min Size: I entered 60. The script resizes each circle to a random number between Min Size% and 100% of the original size.
Wait a second or two and... Voila!
At this point you can <CTRL> <Z> and try again with different variables.
Select the circles and change the fill colours to suit your needs. I choose a fetching shade of chameleon green.
To finish off the chameleon skin I've put some large areas of colour underneath. That'll do nicely!
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The logo on the T-shirt in Surly Jack was designed in Illustrator then imported onto the T-shirt texture in Photoshop, more of which later. Here is a walk through of how I created the robot logo.
The logo is white, this makes it tricky to see so the first step is to create a grey rectangle in its own layer to act as a background. Lock the layer by clicking where the padlock shows in the image above. Click on the new layer to start the logo proper.
Using the rectangle tool to create a white rectangle with no outline stroke.
Select the to top points of the rectangle using the direct selection tool (the white arrow) the taper the box using the scale tool (arrowed)
Choose the Add anchor points tool and add a new anchor point top and bottom of the box.
Use the Direct selection tool to move both these new points down then use the Convert anchor point tool to change the top and bottom lines into curves.
<alt><Up arrow> to create a copy of the shape slightly higher on the page than the original.
With the scissors tool, cut the new shape at the points indicated and delete the lower half of the shape leaving only the top curve.
<shift><alt> Drag the top curve to make a copy
With the reflect tool, flip the top copy about the horizontal axis.
Use the arrow keys to move both parts together then lasso both ends and join them together using
Path -> Join
Select the head top and resize it down slightly.
Eyes: Create a circle and two rectangles as shown above. Line up the rectangles so that they pass through the centre of the circle.
Select the circle only and bring it to the front using Object -> Arrange -> Bring to Front
Bring up the Pathfinder tool panel. Windows -> Pathfinder
Select all three objects then click on the Minus Back button to subtract the two rectangles from the circle.
Rotate the eye by 45 degrees then <shift><alt>drag it to copy it.
Position the eyes on the head, resizing if necessary.
Move the eyes to the back using Object -> Arrange -> Move to Back
Select the head and eyes then click on the Minus Back button to cut out the eye holes.
Mouth: Create a rectangle like the one in the picture above then use the pen tool to create a zig-zag line across the mouth.
With the zig-zag selected split the mouth in two using Object -> Path -> Divide Objects Below
Separate the two parts of the mouth slightly
Drag the mouth into place on the head and move it to the back. Object -> Arrange -> Move to Back
Cut the mouth out using the Pathfinder tool
Claws: Create a circle as shown above.
Create a second smaller circle centred above the first and use the Divide Objects Below tool to cut out the smaller hole. Select and delete the smaller circle.
Use the pen tool to create a triangle and again divide the shape to complete the claw shape.
Arm: Use the pen tool to create a short arc as above.
<Shift><Alt> drag to copy the arc.
Open the Stroke palette set the line weight to 3pt and click on the round end cap button.
Windows -> Stroke
To create the arms we'll use the Blend tool.
As the name suggests, the Illustrator blend tool allows you to blend from one shape to another or, as in this case, to make a string of copies of the same shape.
Open the Blend Options window. Object -> Blend Options and set the options as above. In the end I used a 3mm spacing, you can change this value at any point to try out different effects.
Select the top and bottom arc. Make a blend between them. Object -> Blend -> Make
Now to make the arm curved. The line that the blend follows is called the Spine. We are going to replace the straight spine with a curved one. Set the stroke and fill to none and select the pen tool.
Start at the bottom and make a semi circlular curved line with three anchor points, one at each end and one in the middle. (The red line above left)
Select the blend and the new spine then click on Object -> Blend -> Replace Spine.
The initial results don't look promising but hang-in there.
Using the direct selection tool select both ends of the lower arc then select the rotate tool.
Rotate the lower arc as shown. You'll see that the other arcs re-arrange themselves.
Repeat the process with the top arc. Looking better already. Just the spine to tidy up now.
Using the direct selection tool and the convert anchor point tool edit the spine until the arcs are evenly spaced along the line length.
Select the arm and claw and make a copy. Flip it using the reflect tool.
All done! The result is a vector image so you can easily scale and move the image elements to get just the balance that you are looking for.
I hope that was useful. Don't forget to leave a rating / comment below.
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Time to make the Paper Rock model move! My plan is a to add a pendulum drive and hopefully make the head nod up and down and perhaps make an arm strum on the guitar strings. To that end, I need a box into which to fit a mechanism. A loudspeaker cabinet seems the most fitting.
I'm still planning the mechanism. So in the meantime, I'm working on artwork. Here, I'll show how I created the texture effect for the front grill of the loudspeaker cabinet. My starting point is the net of a box 90mm x 85mm x 46mm as an Illustrator file. I've picked a blue-grey for the background colour. I'll be adding the grill texture to the top square of the box. Follow the directions below to complete the texture. Members can download the completed file for free.
Start by drawing a square over the front of the box 5mm smaller all round than the size of the box front. Fill the new square with a radial fill graduating from light grey to dark grey. Add a 3 point off-white border stroke.
Having created the grill background, time now to create the holes in the grill. Start by drawing a small black circle, top left in the grill.
Select the circle the copy it once by <shift><alt> dragging it so that the new circle is roughly half a diameter from the first. Repeatedly press <cmd>d (<ctrl>d on a PC) until the full row of circles is complete. Select them all and group them by clicking <cmd>g.
Select the row of circles. <alt> drag it down and to the right to create a second row of circles between and below the first. Select both rows and again group them.
Select the double row of circles.
<Shift><alt> drag it downwards to create a new double row equally spaced with the first. Repeatedly <cmd>d until you have more than filled the whole box front with rows of circles.
Select all the rows and group them together into one giant group.
Zoom right in then select the circles and <alt> drag them to create a second set of circles.
Select the lower set of circles and set their fill colour to white. Move them just slightly right and down. This will simulate light catching at the bottom edge of the holes in the grill.
Zoom out to take a look!
Group both layers of circles.
Draw a rectangle above your original white rectangle.
Select the circles and the top rectangle then click on object->clipping mask->make. This will make a clipping mask using the top rectangle and will hide any circles that are overlapping the edge of the box.
In true Marshall Amp style, type out the chosen name for your speaker cab. Make three copies and colour them as below. In the objects below the grey writing is at the top of the stack, the black at the bottom.
Drag the white over the black with the overlap shown.
Drag the grey onto the other two and group all three together.
Drag the text onto the grill and resize it if necessary. Quite an effective speaker grill I hope you agree!
Print out and put together the parts.
I'm hoping there will be enough room inside the cab to fit a pendulum and drive linkages. If not I can stack a couple of cabs on top of one another or add an amplifier head.
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I've been experimenting with ratchet design for an up coming project. The previous ratchet I had made had eighteen teeth. I had constructed the main wheel using straight lines, this time I was aiming to create a wheel with between three and five teeth. As will become apparent, the straight line construction technique is no longer suitable. Here's how I created a five tooth ratchet gear in Adobe Illustrator.
The centre square is 8mm across, the inner circle 30mm and the outer circle 38mm making the two black lines top and bottom 4mm long each.
Select the two vertical lines, select the rotate tool, enter 36 degrees and click 'Copy'.
Repeat this process three more times to create a ring of ten lines.
Delete the alternate lines leaving 5. One for each tooth.
At this point on my original eighteen toothed wheel I simply joined these lines together as shown above. I've added the green concentric circles to help clarify the problem. Follow the length of one of the long flats from one tooth to the next starting at the bottom of a tooth. Notice that, in effect, the surface first drops down then raises up rather than rising gradually. To overcome this I added curves to the surface.
First I constructed a circle round the outside of the five lines. Using the scissors tool, I cut the circle leaving the fifth of a circle arc bounded by the blue box.
I deleted the remaining four fifths of the circle. I selected the arc and centred the rotation tooth at the top left of the arc. You can just make out the cross hairs in light blue on the picture above.
I rotated the arc so that it just touched the bottom of the second tooth line.
Then cut the line to length.
I selected the arc again and this time set the rotation tool to rotate around the centre of the centre square. I set the rotation to -72 degrees and clicked copy.
Repeat that process three more times to complete the outline.
Complete the wheel using the 'join' command on each of the joints.
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In a previous post I described how I created the headline text for workshop notes. I was aiming for a cut paper look. I used Illustrator to stack three copies of the title each with a different colour and different line width. It worked well but was difficult to edit. As so often in Illustrator and Photoshop there is a better way! Using the Appearance palette its possible to add more than one outline to a shape and arrange the order that they are displayed. Here's how its done.
Type the text that you are working with over the top of a locked grey rectangle. This is 30pt text using the font HVD Comic Serif Pro.
With the text selected, open the Appearance palette (Windows -> Appearance) and click on Add New Fill
Select an appropriate colour for the fill (This is M65 Y15)
Next click on Add New Stroke, set the colour to M40 Y10 and the width to 5pt. Add another stroke and set it to white and 8pt. Drag the strokes down below the fill in the Appearance Window so that they are in the order shown above.
That's it. Really easy - and it's still editable. And that is why I love Illustrator.
I finished the picture off by dropping it into Photoshop and adding a drop shadow.
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Here's a quick run through of how I created the new Workshop Notes ribbon that runs across the front page. I hope you find it useful/interesting.
I was aiming to create a cut paper look for the text. As if the words had been cut out from paper and pasted into place.
Starting in Illustrator, type out the word. I've used 50pt American Typewriter font. Convert the text into outlines. This isn't strictly necessary but it does make it easier to move things around as the bounding box (the red rectangle in the picture above) is more accurately placed
Create two more copies of the text by <alt> dragging them. Add an outline to the second copy. I used a 7pt line in a dark green. Notice that the Corner setting in the stroke palette needs to be set to curved otherwise you'll end up with weird pointy bits sticking out of the text!
Set the stroke of the third copy to white and 9pt
Stack these three one on top of the other. Use the arrange menu if necessary to get the stacking order right. Once done, group them all together by selecting them and choosing Object -> Group
Drag the result into your waiting PhotoShop file as a smart object and resize it as appropriate.
Compete the effect by adding a small drop shadow in the layers effect palette.
Save the result - done! This technique will work equally well in your paper models, it's great for titles and labels. Quick and easy but quite effective.
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