Friday, 15 August 2014

Laser cut terrain buildings - 28mm wild west contd

Steve had a great idea about our laser cut wild west buildings - CraftRobo stickers. We'd forgotten all about our trust little blue-and-white cutting machine; it's been sitting in a box in a corner for a while now.

Luckily it can import .dxf files as cutting lines, and accurately place these over a pre-printed image. So all we needed to do was create a series of jpegs (one for each section of the building) and place the cut lines over them (the same cut lines we drew in Inkscrape for the laser cutter, though modified slightly in places).

The most difficult part is resizing the jpeg images in the CraftRobo software; the only information we have about the jpegs is the height and width, as measured in pixels. The CraftRobo software, RoboMaster, only uses only millimetres as units for resizing images, so we had to do some quick conversions.

Our bitmaps/jpegs were created at 600dpi (to get the best quality printed output). So the size of the image in millimetres is: size of image in pixels / 600 * 25.4

Creating the A4 sized sticker sheets was a relatively quick process: create a jpeg and import into RoboMaster. Import a dxf with the original cut lines as sent to the laser cutter. Resize the images in Robomaster to their actual size (using the formula above). Place the cut lines over the correct parts of the images. Each sheet took less than half an hour to produce:

Our CraftRobo is the old-style blue model - one of the very first imported into the UK a number of years ago. As a result, it doesn't have particularly good downward cutting force - it struggles with anything more than even just thick paper. But for sticker inkjet paper, it cuts just fine.

Each cut goes cleanly through the sticker side of the paper, while leaving the backing paper intact - perfectly cut stickers every time!

Some of the stickers needed to be adjusted slightly to get them to fit onto the building, but for a first try, the results were surprisingly effective.

The 28mm playing piece shows the overall scale of the buildings in relation to a board game playing surface.

We're not quite sure how the buildings will work with stickers on the walls and our laser-cut roof shingles (and a mix of painted and non-painted parts) but the stickers seem to work well enough to use on other parts of the building - the roofs and sides of wooden planks on the building fronts, for example.

The plain wood coloured shingles look quite nice on the single-storey building. And the etched planks on the double-storey building canopy could be left as they are - the colour of the 0.8mm birch contrasts quite nicely with the wood-effect patters on the stickers

We'll have to try painting and dry-brushing the "textured" parts of the buildings, and see how they look with the stickered walls. But so far, things are looking very encouraging.

The overall scene will look all the more convincing once we've got a proper floor down, and maybe a few more buildings around the place. But, of course, the whole point it to furnish our electronic board game - so perhaps it's time to park little wild west buildings for a bit, and get on with actually manufacturing something!