The Font Thing and Windows 7 64 bit

April 16, 2010

I just switched from XP to Windows 7 64 bit, and discovered that my usual method of opening uninstalled fonts to use in Inkscape doesn’t work with Win7.  When I tried to install The Font Thing I got an error message and it wouldn’t install.  What is a font addict to do?  I found this solution and it works!  Go to The Font Thing website  here and then click on the Download tab.  Download the second link on the download page.  You want the one without the installer since you aren’t going to install the program.  Once you have the files downloaded, unzip them, then for ease of use I pinned the TFT.exe to the taskbar.  Just click on the pinned file to run the program.

When you click on the Browse tab, you might just get a question mark.  If you click on the refresh button it will change to your C drive and you can navigate to where  you have your uninstalled fonts stored.  Then you can preview or temporarily load your uninstalled fonts.  🙂  If you want to use TFT to install fonts, you will have to set it to run as an administrator before you open the program.


New vector creating and editing features in SCAL 2.010

February 4, 2010

Once again we have a great update that was likely driven by competition!  This update is just for Windows, but CE says that they will have an update for Macs soon.  This update added the ability to pause while cutting, two new sets of shapes to the shapes library, and several vector creating and editing options.  I’m going to talk about the vector creating and editing options here.  A new Path section was added to the menu bar.

  1. Convert Text to Outlines.  This converts text from a font to a Path.  Once the text is converted it can still be ungrouped and individual letters rotated or moved, but Tracking and Vertical offset can no longer be used.  This option is mostly for editing the shape of the font characters.
  2. Union.  Permanently joins two or more shapes or objects together.  This will remove any nodes or cut-lines that are inside the filled area (as seen with View/Show Outlines turned off).  It also works for fonts without converting them first.
  3. Intersection.  Results in only the area where the objects overlap.  You can use this on exactly two objects.
  4. Exclude.  Opposite of Intersection.  Any areas where the objects overlap are removed.  You can only use this on exactly two Paths.  This allows you to create frames and weld other objects to the inside of them or create intertwined rings like the Olympic circles or joined wedding rings.
  5. Front Minus Back.  This  a good way to remove part of an object.  You need exactly two paths for this.  Think of the back object as a mask or cookie cutter.   The area where the upper and lower objects overlap is removed from the front object, and the bottom object disappears.  In my examples the blue square is in front of the red circle.
  6. Back Minus Front.  This is just like Path/Difference in Inkscape.  The area where the upper and lower objects overlap is removed from the bottom object, and the top object disappears.  In my examples the blue square is in front of the red circle.

The other two vector tools are in the toolbar.  They are the Node editor and the Drawing tool.

The Node editor lets you move nodes either one at a time by clicking on them, or selecting several by either holding down the shift key while clicking or drawing a box around the nodes.  Either way they can be moved by clicking and dragging the selected nodes to the desired location.  The nodes are the squares and the handles are circles.  The nodes turn blue when selected, and the surrounding handles become visible and can be moved to adjust the curve.  At this point I didn’t see a way to turn a straight line into a curve since they didn’t have visible handles and the lines themselves can’t be changed directly.

The Drawing tool lets you create freehand shapes much like the Bezier tool in Inkscape (or the Pen tool in Illustrator).  You can create a straight line that will cut a single time, but when I tried a curved line it still cut with an extra straight line between the endpoints two out of five times.  Simply press enter to end the drawing as an open line.

You can also add or delete nodes from existing shapes with this tool.  Simply click on nodes with this tool to delete the nodes.  Hover the tool over the line where you want to add a node and click when the plus sign next to the cursor turn bold.


Inkscape Path operations explained – Part 2

January 18, 2010

This is the second half of the Inkscape Path operations.   I will discuss #1-6 in the image below.  See this post for the other Path operations.  Objects don’t need to be converted to Path before Inset, Outset, or Offset operations, but will automatically be converted during Inset and Outset (but not Offset).

  1. Inset.  This will inset or make thinner the selected objects.  This will be done at a fixed amount.  Repeat as needed for the desired look.
  2. Outset.  This will outset or make larger the selected objects.  This one will also be done at a fixed amount, but can be repeated for the desired look.
  3. Dynamic Offset.  This is similar to inset and outset, except the amount is controlled by how much the handle is moved.  Also, the handle  can be moved in or out for an inset or outset.  This tends to round corners more than Outset.  You must convert this to Path for cutting.  See this tutorial at Cutting Time for more information on Dynamic Offset.
  4. Linked Offset.  This is like Dynamic Offset, except it creates a duplicate of the original Object.  The original object is not changed and a new object is created.  Very useful for creating mats behind words or multi-piece artwork since you can edit the original artwork and the Linked Offset will change with it.  Changing the original object with an active Linked Offset can be a little more demanding on your computer’s resources if you are using an older computer.  The Linked Offset needs to be converted to Path for cutting.   If the original was unconverted text, that will also need to be converted to Path for cutting.  I changed the color of the linked offset in the image below for visibility.
  5. Simplify.  This will reduce the amount of nodes in a vector.  It tends to distort corners, so use with caution.  If you are creating artwork from separate pieces that form corners, helps to combine the pieces, simplify, then Path/Union.  Each time simplification (Control L) is repeated within 0.5 seconds, the simplification gets more aggressive.  Also, the more nodes present, the more aggressive the simplification will be.  The severity of simplification can be adjusted using the Inkscape Preferences (from the File menu).
  6. Reverse.  This reverses the direction of the Path.  Useful for Text on Path or Pattern on Path to change the direction of the text or pattern.

Inkscape Path operations explained – Part 1

January 15, 2010

One question that gets asked a lot about Inkscape  is “What is the difference between Path/Union and Path/Combined?”  So I will try to explain the different Path operations.  This is Part 1 of 2 and I will cover #1-11 in the image below.

It is very important that all objects for the Path operations not have Group applied.  Path operations will not work if any of the objects are Grouped.  If this is the case you will see a message in the Ink message bar that says “one of the objects is not a Path.”

  1. Object to Path.  This is used to convert text and shapes to vectors.
  2. Stroke to Path.  Converts the outline of a vector, shape, or text to a vector.  Useful for changing a line into a closed shape for cutting in SCAL.
  3. Trace Bitmap.  Use this to create a vector from an image (bmp, jpg, png, gif, others).  I have a post here with more information on tracing in Inkscape.
  4. Union.  Use this when you want to weld two or more vectors, shapes, or text items together (I will call these Objects for the rest of this tutorial).  This will remove any nodes or cut-lines that are inside the filled area.  It is also dependent on the fill rule.  If the fill rule is set to evenodd, the non-filled areas will not be made solid after Union.  If you want a solid shape, change the fill setting to Nonzero before using Union.

    Union can only be undone by using Edit/Undo or the Undo History.  Once a file is closed the weld cannot be removed.
  5. Difference.  This is a good way to remove part of an object.  You need exactly two paths for this and object order is important.  Think of the top object as a mask or cookie cutter.   The area where the upper and lower objects overlap is removed from the bottom object, and the top object disappears.
  6. Intersection.  Results in only the area where the objects overlap.  You can use this on two or more objects.
  7. Exclusion.  Opposite of Intersection.  Any areas where the objects overlap are removed.  You can only use this on exactly two Paths.
  8. Division.  This is another one where you need exactly two paths and object order is important.  Think of the top object as a mask or cookie cutter.   The object on the bottom is cut into two paths by the top object, and the top object disappears.  Both of the new paths are closed shapes.
  9. Cut Path.  This one is just like Division, except that it results in two open paths.  I can’t think of when I have actually used this one.
  10. Combine.  This puts separate vectors together without removing any nodes or cut-lines.  It is useful for putting inner pieces together before using Exclusion with an outer piece.  Combine can be undone at any point since no information is lost.
  11. Break Apart.  This will make each line or shape into a separate path.