KittenThrasher

Useful, easy to use design software - and it's free.

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Here’s a thing for you,,

 I noticed there are a few posts looking for suitable software for doing leatherwork design on, I found only one post back in 2008 referring to the software I’m going to talk about,

 I am hesitant to even mention the words ‘Computer Aided Design Software’ because I know a lot of people (me included) really struggle with programmes like AutoCad which are immense and highly complex programmes for which you can do almost degree standard training courses.

 I spent quite a lot of time trying to learn that stuff until I quit in exasperation and chucked it out of the window – metaphorically speaking.

 A couple of years ago I had a go with ‘Sketch up’ and quickly learned it is useless unless you spend a fortune on the paid version, the same story with a few other packages; free to try - useless unless you pay.

 Then I found,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, QCAD!! (sound of fanfare and church bells).

 QCAD is an open source computer aided design software package, which I use but am not associated with in any other way.

 The program is free and open source but to get the best out of it you will probably want to spend about $30.00 on the pro version with full printing capabilities and one or two other things. There’s no real need to do that straight away though as it’s useful anyway.

 If you’ve previously looked at CAD software the thing will look a bit familiar, the differences are that it’s primarily a 2D package and it is massively simplified.

Although I utterly failed to work out how to use Autocad after a LOT of effort I was actually printing usable patterns with QCAD in a day or so.

It is now my first ‘go-to’ design aid in most jobs I do. I prefer it to pencil and paper.

You can draw everything at 100% size which makes life very easy for pattern making.

 One of my favorite ways to use it is to print out a design done on QCAD, then laminate the printed pattern and cut it out. you can then draw around the pattern pieces with the added firmness of the laminated,,,, uhm,, laminatedness.  

 Doing it this way provides a pattern or template which is reusable many times over, is extremely cheap and quick to make and doesn’t have the disadvantages of a floppy paper pattern. Also of course you can save the QCAD files in a format which is widely recognizable by pattern makers or click knife makers. (DXF format). You can also save as normal JPG, TIFF, PNG image files or PDF files.

 I confiscated my kids homework laminator for this, told ‘em it was too dangerous, what with it being hot and likely to drag their arms in and rip them off  at the shoulders etc; (health and safety ‘concerns’ always work!)

If you don’t have kids to rob, you can buy one for a few dollars, euros or quid. (or even rubles maybe, do they have such things in Russia?)

 Of course you don’t need to use QCAD to nick your kids homework laminator, it would be quite handy for hand drawn or any other paper patterns.

Just thought I’d mention that before someone else did.

 

Anyway before I get carried away,

If you’re looking for something to use on a computer to help with your leatherwork design and/or pattern making, I reckon this has got to be well worth a good look, it doesn’t require any more than ‘normal’ or domestic computer skills, won’t slow your machine to crawl and is extremely useful.

 Here is where you can get it,

https://qcad.org/en/

PS I will happily answer your questions about my experience using it for leather-working, but I’m not a help-desk of FAQ thingy. I’m not even an expert with it, I love it (but not carnally – Monty Python anyone???)  and use it in a limited way for my own uses.

 attached are a couple of my regular patterns and a squiggle showing it's dead easy to make curvy things symmetrical, which I totally can't do with a pencil.

On the attached patterns for example I first drew the whole thing up fully, then 'copy and pasted' individual elements out into separate items so I could make a very exact pattern including things like reference or location pin holes, pin holes through the pattern also make a good start for drawing up glue lines and things like that.

Have fun!!

Moleskine-large-notebook-soft-cover-01.jpg

Untitled 1.jpeg

small-card-wallet-01.jpg

small card wallet 01.pdf

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Thanks for the information Kitten - I downloaded the trial version and am anxious about trying it out.  I have played a little with other CAD programs and decided the learning curve was too long for me!

Gary

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Thanks for sharing this. This could be a game changer.

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I generally use the AutoCAD software that I have access to at my day job for my patterns...most folks, however, aren't fortunate enough to have access to the software or have an employer that flexible (my lunch hours are not spent relaxing...make hay while the sun's shining). I've also used DraftSight (will create .dwg, dxf, etc) on my home computers since Autodesk products are $$$$$ for the full versions...they're actually monthly/lease/subscription basis only now, as I understand it. I'm always open to trying other options, software-wise...I might give QCAD a try and see what comes of it.

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Thank you! I will certainly have a look.

Also I love the laminate idea. I’ve been cutting my patterns out of 2mm pvc sheeting I have in work, very difficult to cut with a knife.

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1 hour ago, Double Daddy said:

I generally use the AutoCAD software that I have access to at my day job for my patterns...most folks, however, aren't fortunate enough to have access to the software or have an employer that flexible (my lunch hours are not spent relaxing...make hay while the sun's shining). I've also used DraftSight (will create .dwg, dxf, etc) on my home computers since Autodesk products are $$$$$ for the full versions...they're actually monthly/lease/subscription basis only now, as I understand it. I'm always open to trying other options, software-wise...I might give QCAD a try and see what comes of it.

It's a 2D package but if you're used to autodesk stuff you should find it a piece of cake, 

10 minutes ago, KingsCountyLeather said:

Thank you! I will certainly have a look.

Also I love the laminate idea. I’ve been cutting my patterns out of 2mm pvc sheeting I have in work, very difficult to cut with a knife.

I've tried that as well, even gluing the paper pattern onto the pvc, the closest I ever came, was using a fret saw, then a file, then wet-n-dry paper, it was ok but took forever.

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Okay, the most complicated software I've used up until now for drawing was MS Paint. Is there a tutorial I can read somewhere to get started on this? (Yes, I downloaded it already, and am struggling to figure out the basics.)

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9 hours ago, Sheilajeanne said:

Okay, the most complicated software I've used up until now for drawing was MS Paint. Is there a tutorial I can read somewhere to get started on this? (Yes, I downloaded it already, and am struggling to figure out the basics.)

Hi, attached is a brief intro book/pdf it shows how to draw lines and rectangles and some basic stuff, once you've got the idea of how the basics are done you'll  find everything else works in the same way and you should pretty quickly be able to work it out. eg, drawing a circle is pretty much the same method as a square, different shapes 'snap' together and individual lines on shapes can be deleted to make more complex shapes. one of the most useful tools is;  'MODIFY > 'BREAK OUT SEGMENT',  this tool 'breaks bits off' lines and shapes, so if you draw a circle and a line through it you can then use 'break out segment' to chop bits off so you have a half circle, if you stick the half circle in the end of a rectangle you then have a pattern for a rounded strap end. you can join simple rectangles together to form patterns for folding into a box shape, once you get the hang of the most basic shapes and a very few simple ways of modifying them the possibilities get almost endless.

stick with it and have fun  :rockon:

qcad_book_preview_en.pdf

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ps,

the little card wallet drawing above is just a rectangle with a circle overlaid on top, then using 'break out segment' all the bits that didn't look like a card wallet were deleted, would be drawn to exact size and will take about 5 minutes when you get the hang of the basics.

stitch lines added afterwards or I just draw a .5mm circle at the start and end of the stitch line and poke an awl through the pattern to show where to go.

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Thank you very much! :D

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The download site says the trial version shuts down after 15 minutes, but can be restarted. Is there a way to turn that off, short of getting the license? There is mention of a "community version" in the website docs, but can't find it anywhere.

Thanks,

Jeff

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After you install the software, the first time you start the program there is a box on the right hand side that tells you how to remove that limitation. But the program won’t do this automatically for you.

You will have to manually delete the files for the “professional add-on” that are located in the “plugins” folder in the QCAD directory where it was installed on your computer.

Sounds harder to do than it actually is.

By removing those files the software then becomes the community version.

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thanks! I knew I was missing something. 

Jeff

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4 hours ago, alpha2 said:

The download site says the trial version shuts down after 15 minutes, but can be restarted. Is there a way to turn that off, short of getting the license? There is mention of a "community version" in the website docs, but can't find it anywhere.

Thanks,

Jeff

Hi Jeff, 

I'm thinking they've changed it a bit since I had the trial, I think mine went for an hour before I had to restart. if you scroll right to the very bottom of the download page it shows this:

QCAD Community Edition

If you are looking for the free open source QCAD Community Edition, you can download the trial version for your platform (see above) and then remove the QCAD Professional add-on running in trial mode. Alternatively, you may compile your own package from sources below.

I'd never seen it before either, 'might be useful for a few people here. 

the plugins control panel thingy is in the 'Help' > 'about' tab,

 

5a70cbe55e1ff_2018-01-3019_47_09-Untitled1-QCAD.jpg.d53fd6c9760ee365f2e2147e4c9c7b5e.jpg

Good luck,

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Thanks. Got it running now. It's still one huge mystery. This will take some time!

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