Blackey Cole

Computer Drawing Software For Making Leather Patterns

39 posts in this topic

I am want to find a simple to use program that will allow me to draw patterns for my leather items. I like to start with a center line and develop one half then make a mirror copy of that to complete the pattern that way I can get everything symmetrical and reproduce it many times as needed. This would also allow me to print it out on the overhead projector material and go off of it to the leather directly. I have looked at inkscape, photoshop, cadstd, and one other cad program but like photoshop it is steep learning curve to be able to draw anything. I also use a Wacom tablet for drawing with so having it recognized would be nice.

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Your wacom drawing can be copied to Photoshop but you must remember, Photoshop is not a designing platform, you need Illustrator to move your drawing from the tablet. You can resize much easier and keep everything in proportion at the same time. There are some less expensive drawing programs, you need to check the specs to see if they will import from the Wacom.

ferg

I am want to find a simple to use program that will allow me to draw patterns for my leather items. I like to start with a center line and develop one half then make a mirror copy of that to complete the pattern that way I can get everything symmetrical and reproduce it many times as needed. This would also allow me to print it out on the overhead projector material and go off of it to the leather directly. I have looked at inkscape, photoshop, cadstd, and one other cad program but like photoshop it is steep learning curve to be able to draw anything. I also use a Wacom tablet for drawing with so having it recognized would be nice.

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Gimp also has a pretty steep learning curve, but it's incredibly versatile. It's also FREE. There are currently Youtube tutorials on how to use it, and from what I've seen on them, they're pretty thorough. Did I mention it's free?

Granted, it is NOT a CAD program, but it's certainly worth checking out. One of the nice features (I don't know squat about photoshop, so if it's a feature common between them, just disregard this) is the ability to work in layers. Using the layers, you can overlay objects/designs and scale without modifying the whole image.

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I use Illustrator and a Wacom Cintiq, I don't really see the need for a full on cad program for leatherwork unless you are manufacting alot of stuff that needs very precise measurements. If you can't afford Illustrator look for a program that is set up for vector artwork, I've only used Illustrator so aren't sure what else is around. Most programs will allow a Wacom as an input device it's the pressure sensitivity aspect of it that normally won't work, but for patterns you wouldn't need that anyway.

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I use Photoshop extensively at work (and have since the late 90's), and Illustrator equally as long, but considerably less. I also was a CAD operator for nearly 10 years, and only recently was able to migrate into more of a design role moving me away from CAD. All that being said, I find it much more efficient to do my initial leather designs by hand, then scan my drawings and save them to PDF files so they maintain their scale. If I need to edit them, I usually do the edits in Photoshop, but Illustrator would be more appropriate (I don't have Illustrator at home). Sometimes technology can get in the way of creativity.

I downloaded Gimp a few months back... Maybe I didn't give it enough of a chance, but it was totally foreign and awkward for me. But again, I've used Photoshop "forever", so anything else is frustrating to no-end. YMMV

If you're not aware, Adobe has recently come out with a subscription option. Photoshop is $49 per month - renew as needed, if/when needed. Illustrator is $45 per month. Sign up for one year, and those monthly prices are considerably less.

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If you really want CAD, here is a source for a free version.

http://graytechsoftware.com/

For a free, Illustrator like program that works very well.

http://inkscape.org/

These are both 'vector' based programs. They do work with a tablet but can be used with a mouse as well.

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I would really like to be able draw on the computer, however I'm not sure how practical it would really be. If I were only making items whose patterns fit on an 8-1/2" x 11" piece of paper then maybe it would be handy, however I find that an awful lot of what I do requires larger paper than what I can print on at home so I draw my patterns by hand. And when I do have a large pattern that I've drawn, It isn't very practical to try to scan it. I know it can be done, but not with the everyday home equipment that most of us live with and I can't see an advantage to running back and forth to Kinkos and paying them to print out or scan the larger patterns. So I've kind of given up on using the computer to draw with..........

Bobby

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I would really like to be able draw on the computer, however I'm not sure how practical it would really be. If I were only making items whose patterns fit on an 8-1/2" x 11" piece of paper then maybe it would be handy, however I find that an awful lot of what I do requires larger paper than what I can print on at home so I draw my patterns by hand. And when I do have a large pattern that I've drawn, It isn't very practical to try to scan it. I know it can be done, but not with the everyday home equipment that most of us live with and I can't see an advantage to running back and forth to Kinkos and paying them to print out or scan the larger patterns. So I've kind of given up on using the computer to draw with..........

Bobby

There is a way to fix that, at home. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiled_printing

They explain it, and have links to the software.

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Bobby,

I have an Epson printer that will print 13 x 18, very handy for making drawings on Vellum. There is always a down side, this particular printer has a thirst for ink.

Illustrator makes it possible to draw on any size you wish, dependent only on your monitor size. Simply print the actual size you need.

My hand is not steady enough to do much drawing by hand. This is where the drawing programs hit the sweet spot.

ferg

I would really like to be able draw on the computer, however I'm not sure how practical it would really be. If I were only making items whose patterns fit on an 8-1/2" x 11" piece of paper then maybe it would be handy, however I find that an awful lot of what I do requires larger paper than what I can print on at home so I draw my patterns by hand. And when I do have a large pattern that I've drawn, It isn't very practical to try to scan it. I know it can be done, but not with the everyday home equipment that most of us live with and I can't see an advantage to running back and forth to Kinkos and paying them to print out or scan the larger patterns. So I've kind of given up on using the computer to draw with..........

Bobby

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I have Photoshop and have used it for my Photography for years now and fell that I am knowledgeable of it and it took a while to learn it. I love the layers features and stuff but it wasn't designed to be a drawing program it is more of a manipulation program.

I have access to a couple of other applications like photoshop. I also have two printers a Brother Laser and an Epson 1400 which can do 13x19" prints. My Plan would to be print out the pattern on over head projector film once it is complete and use that film to transfer the pattern directly to the leather. That is why I am looking for the computer drawing program. It was years ago when I took my Technical drawing class and back then we use pencil and ink. We drew straight lines and circles to draw the items out. I need a program that will draw circles, arcs and lines to scale and be able to use layers and image manipulation.

I am living and working out of a 40' toy hauler. Space is a minimun with my other activities, Cowboy action Shooting and Photography. I like to keep as much data in digital form since I have a network with closs to 3TB of storage on it. I plan on buying all the digital books that I can so that it is only a keystroke away. I would like my patterns to be the same because using the poster board my patterns only last a few items befoe they start breaking down plus I am working on a new system for transfer points on a pattern and then redrawing the lines to complete the design on the leather. Now i am doing it with paper and pencil. I would like to modernize my process. I guess I will keep looking for a program that I can understand and will fit my needs.

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I have a set of instructions for doing line drawings from photographs in Inkscape. Have a look at INKSCAPE at LEATHERLEARN

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Inkscape is the Right Tool for design work like this. It's free, multi-platform, saves its output in an open standard format (that you'll still be able to open in 10 years), and works.

It has a bit of a learning curve, but the help is pretty good and there are books on it. For symmetrical stuff, explore the clone tool.

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I have Photoshop and have used it for my Photography for years now and fell that I am knowledgeable of it and it took a while to learn it. I love the layers features and stuff but it wasn't designed to be a drawing program it is more of a manipulation program.

I have access to a couple of other applications like photoshop. I also have two printers a Brother Laser and an Epson 1400 which can do 13x19" prints. My Plan would to be print out the pattern on over head projector film once it is complete and use that film to transfer the pattern directly to the leather. That is why I am looking for the computer drawing program. It was years ago when I took my Technical drawing class and back then we use pencil and ink. We drew straight lines and circles to draw the items out. I need a program that will draw circles, arcs and lines to scale and be able to use layers and image manipulation.

I am living and working out of a 40' toy hauler. Space is a minimun with my other activities, Cowboy action Shooting and Photography. I like to keep as much data in digital form since I have a network with closs to 3TB of storage on it. I plan on buying all the digital books that I can so that it is only a keystroke away. I would like my patterns to be the same because using the poster board my patterns only last a few items befoe they start breaking down plus I am working on a new system for transfer points on a pattern and then redrawing the lines to complete the design on the leather. Now i am doing it with paper and pencil. I would like to modernize my process. I guess I will keep looking for a program that I can understand and will fit my needs.

If you are used to Photoshop, Illustrator won't be that hard to pick up most of the Adobe products work the same way in regards to layout you can get some good online videos for it from here though www.lynda.com I think it's $30 a month, you would probably only need a month to learn what you want to do. Illustrator works with measurements you can type in what size you want circles, arcs and lines are all easy to do. Images can be imported and turned into line art and altered as you see fit if thats what you mean by image manipulation otherwise you can use it in conjuction with Photoshop.

Illustrator also has layers and you can turn them on and off for what you want to print, I'm lucky in that I have access to printers that range in size from A4 to A0 (office paper to movie poster) Illustrator can handle any of these sizes with ease. Adobe does a trial version of Illustrator that you can download from their website, the only other program I can think of that may suitable for you would be Corel Draw I've never used it but they should do a trial version as well. I believe lynda.com do training videos for it as well though not as extensive as those for Illustrator.

For patterns under A3 size I work completely digital I use a machine that can trace directly onto the leather www.knkusa.com if you want to check it out I have the 13 inch model but considering your space contraints I'm not sure if you would want another machine but the option is there if you wanted to go completely digital in the future and not have to use printed out patterns at all it uses it's own software which is similiar to Illustrator,Illustrator files can be imported into it though.

Hope this is of some help

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I am living and working out of a 40' toy hauler. Space is a minimun with my other activities....

Sounds like me. I'm doing the same in a 39' 5th wheel bunkroom edition. It seems like every square inch is critical, as well as watching the weight. :)

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I am referencing your third paragraph. I see nothing on this company site that would suggest they have a machine that will trace onto leather. The machines are all "cutters". Can you clarify?

ferg

If you are used to Photoshop, Illustrator won't be that hard to pick up most of the Adobe products work the same way in regards to layout you can get some good online videos for it from here though www.lynda.com I think it's $30 a month, you would probably only need a month to learn what you want to do. Illustrator works with measurements you can type in what size you want circles, arcs and lines are all easy to do. Images can be imported and turned into line art and altered as you see fit if thats what you mean by image manipulation otherwise you can use it in conjuction with Photoshop.

Illustrator also has layers and you can turn them on and off for what you want to print, I'm lucky in that I have access to printers that range in size from A4 to A0 (office paper to movie poster) Illustrator can handle any of these sizes with ease. Adobe does a trial version of Illustrator that you can download from their website, the only other program I can think of that may suitable for you would be Corel Draw I've never used it but they should do a trial version as well. I believe lynda.com do training videos for it as well though not as extensive as those for Illustrator.

For patterns under A3 size I work completely digital I use a machine that can trace directly onto the leather www.knkusa.com if you want to check it out I have the 13 inch model but considering your space contraints I'm not sure if you would want another machine but the option is there if you wanted to go completely digital in the future and not have to use printed out patterns at all it uses it's own software which is similiar to Illustrator,Illustrator files can be imported into it though.

Hope this is of some help

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I am referencing your third paragraph. I see nothing on this company site that would suggest they have a machine that will trace onto leather. The machines are all "cutters". Can you clarify?

ferg

Hi Ferg,

They are cutters but can also be used with pens, stylus etc whatever fits in the holder for marking, there is an option in the software for swapping between the knife and a pen. They have a pressure setting so you can determine how dark the tracing is.

Heres a pic of a tracing

post-4562-096579200 1313371811_thumb.jpg

Before anyone asks about cutting the knives are tiny so aren't suitable for cutting leather, I did managed to cut 1.5mm thick leather once but definately wouldn't try anything thicker.

The flatbed machine they do would cut through thicker leather but are over $5000 I think, definately not something I could afford they use an air suction system to hold down the piece. My model uses grip wheels to move the mat back and forth and the leather needs to fit between the wheels as they are textured and you wouldn't want them to run over the leather, I use double sided tape to hold the leather to the mat.

Let me know if you would like any other info.

Cheers,

Clair

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Curious to know what the financial damage is on the machine you have.

ferg

Hi Ferg,

They are cutters but can also be used with pens, stylus etc whatever fits in the holder for marking, there is an option in the software for swapping between the knife and a pen. They have a pressure setting so you can determine how dark the tracing is.

Heres a pic of a tracing

post-4562-096579200 1313371811_thumb.jpg

Before anyone asks about cutting the knives are tiny so aren't suitable for cutting leather, I did managed to cut 1.5mm thick leather once but definately wouldn't try anything thicker.

The flatbed machine they do would cut through thicker leather but are over $5000 I think, definately not something I could afford they use an air suction system to hold down the piece. My model uses grip wheels to move the mat back and forth and the leather needs to fit between the wheels as they are textured and you wouldn't want them to run over the leather, I use double sided tape to hold the leather to the mat.

Let me know if you would like any other info.

Cheers,

Clair

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Curious to know what the financial damage is on the machine you have.

ferg

Ferg, I think mine was about $1300 don't have the reciept handy at the moment, that was in Australia and from an Australian supplier though so will be higher than the American price, we get charged a higher price on everything in Oz. For the amount of time it has saved me from tracing by hand though I think it has been worth it there are cheaper models around, but I thought this one looked the most robust for leather and being able to import directly from Illustrator was a plus.

Cheers,

Clair

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I see no reason to use Illustrator when your patterns aren't going to change size or be sent to a printhouse. I scan the gun/blue gun then use Photoshop to create the pattern. When printed, it's actual size and easy to reprint for a quick alteration or when the pattern gets too boogered up to use anymore. I've been using Photoshop since v4...I still have the disc! The Gimp is the open-source equivalent - if you don't have the funds for PS, get the Gimp and learn it.

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I have PS CS4 but I would need a full tutorial to be able to use it like you say can you work one up for me. I plan on sending it off to Grey Ghost for having a plastic template made if all works well plus being able to reproduce the pattern as needed and doing away with poster board for patterns print it out from the compute and coat it with self liner or the laminate stuff.

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Blackey Cole - you might check out http://layersmagazine.com/category/photoshop for some good tutorials. Also, in the past I was very pleased with the Photoshop WOW! series of tutorial books. Also, look for the Photoshop Creative publication at your local book store. What file format does Grey Ghost need to cut your templates?

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Hi folks,

I've used AutoCAD for work for the last 15 years or so, so that's my preference when it comes down to making patterns. I still use a VERY old copy of R14, which you should be able to pick up on ebay or the like for less then $100 (I've seen 2008 on there for about that).

I'm also quite fluent in PhotosShop, but less so in Illustrator so I'm not sure how they compare. The advantage of a CAD program over a photo editing program is that in CAD the lines are "alive", and you can interact them with one another. As such, if you want to clip one line where it intersects another, that's pretty easy. Likwise, if you want to extend a line to meet another, meet one perpendicular to another, or blend a curve through a series of points, all are straightforward. In Photoshop you can use layers and overlay things, but the lines don't really interact. It's also very easy to identify the areas where backgrounding is required, because you can get the program to fill those spots with color.

Where I love to integrate Photoshop is in distorting and stretching images, which is does like a champ. Oftentimes I'll start with a base image, manipulate it as I like in Photoshop, then import and trace it in CAD. The lines are then live in CAD, and I can proceed as I'd like from there.

Scanner-wise, I have to admit that I cheat in that I have easy access to the photocopier at work which they don't mind me using. I'll use the scanning bed to scan large objects in sections, then stitch the images back together in photoshop. If I didn't have that, I'd go out an buy a bed scanner that would handle 11x17s (which are becoming harder to find).

Likewise, I print everything on 11x17s, though I just do that at home on an ancient color inkjet. I can them tile them back together with a strip of tape back and front, and I use those directly on the leather. They don't survive more then a single project, but it's easy to just print another rather then having patterns around the shop.

The learning curve is steep with CAD, but with a good book it's not TOO bad if you're a little computer savvy. I'm self-taught, for example, and it created a skill set that I then use at the office too.

I'll attach an example of a pattern I'm developing as my first attempt at a saddle fender, which hopefully is somewhat along the right lines (my first effort from scratch). I scan everything I like, and this one started with the Hape saddle fender shown in a Sheridan carving book along with a set of flower and element patterns included with one of Chan Geer's DVDs.

Even though the saddle fender in the book isn't a scan and so everything is a little distorted due to perspective, it provided a nice means of learning how to flow one grouping into another. Then I arranged the groupings with the proper spacings, and arranged the flowers with their stems blending in properly. I then added in flow lines (red), and adjusted the groupings accordingly (I don't know if it's verboten to use circles of different sizes, but I quite like the effect). Next the leaves got added, and I'm starting to blend their stems into the vines. I've slowly started removing the overlapping lines, and filling in areas of backgrounding in yellow. Blending the vines together seems like it would be easier to do by handso I've printed this out and will do that in the next few days, and then I'll re-scan it and digitize those transitions. Last will be to print a final copy to use as a tracing pattern, and a second as a cheat sheet in where the backgrounding will go (I find that after 5 hours of carving my bleary eyes and tired arms appreciate a cheat sheet there).

Anyways, hope that helps,

Adam

post-5885-041450600 1314797256_thumb.png

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I can work real well in PS it is AutoCad that is my problem. I have version 17 and 18. If you could assist me with learning it I would be greatly appreciative. Adam can you work out some tutorials for me for doing some simple patterns where you have a center line and develop 1/4th of the pattern then copy and flip vertically then copy both sections and flip horizontally. I am working on some loading or stage strips for 38s. I can supply the detail figures and you are more than welcome to my finished design for teaching me what I need to know to built the digital pattern. I have figured how to set the scale and change the units to architectual mode.

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I can work real well in PS it is AutoCad that is my problem. I have version 17 and 18. If you could assist me with learning it I would be greatly appreciative. Adam can you work out some tutorials for me for doing some simple patterns where you have a center line and develop 1/4th of the pattern then copy and flip vertically then copy both sections and flip horizontally. I am working on some loading or stage strips for 38s. I can supply the detail figures and you are more than welcome to my finished design for teaching me what I need to know to built the digital pattern. I have figured how to set the scale and change the units to architectual mode.

I don't have heaps of free time at the moment, but I'll try if I can. You'll need to be able to explain what you'd like to someone whose knowledge of firearms is limited to finding "Top Shot" entertaining, however...never even handled a gun before. Pictures of construction and/or final products would be most helpful so I can get my mind around the geometry involved.

It's lazy, but I don't bother with scales, actually. I just work in generic units (I assume 1 unit = 1 inch). To make sure I don't exceed the print boundaries, I draw a rectangle the size of my output paper (11x17, 8.5x11 etc), then set the print extents by snapping to the corners of the box. If you make a bunch of copies of the rectangle on a different drawing layers, that makes it easy to see how your pages will tile out. When you print, you then just set the printing scale to be 1 unit = 1 inch, and you're done. Getting into scales is important for engineering drawings, but we print everything full size, so there isn't the same need.

Edited by AdamTill

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Adam I will do but it may be this weekend before I am able to get photos taken and scan my hand drawing so you will be able to set what I am trying to draw on the computer. When I said scale I ment ruler habit from my technical drawing class and 13 years of working on Aircraft in the USAF. I have items that are very similar to what I am designing. I will scan my full size completed drawing. I will then try to hand draw the 1/4 pattern so that we you can see the actual size of the item then once we draw it in the computer it will be copy and flip twice.

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