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  1. #1
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    Software for decal editing / printing?

    Hi folks,

    I could use some advice on what PC software to use for editing printing prior to printing it on my color inkjet printer. I've encountered some unexpected challenges on what I thought was going to be a simple job.

    I have a PDF scan at acceptable resolution of my Vagabond decals. I'm doing a downscale to BT-55 (replacing a recently lost rocket), which means printing out the decals at about 81%. I can do this easily using a free package called Autodesk Design Review (I have the 2013 version; works fine, gives a % scale during printing that works great).

    However, what I really want to do is take in my PDF of the decals at full scale, mark and select the decals individually, and then scale them individually down to BT55 size (and probably make a set at BT50 size in case I decide to make another lower scale), with more decals on the page than the original scanned in sheet had. I've got Hypersnap 8, Inkscape, and a couple other programs all of which can work with bitmaps, but I've been stymied that Inkscape is hard (for me) to figure out the relevant bits of, and Hypersnap for all I've used it for more than a decade isn't really suited to this task. I need to be able to identify a region of the original bitmap, copy/paste, then scale the pasted portion to a specific percent, which is the part I have found to be tough. Most of the programs allow freehand scaling of the image bigger/smaller but I haven't been able to select a size property and enter say 81%. I have powerpoint, but I encounter issues when copying/pasting in the bitmap; I loose the original size info.

    I'm willing to buy software as long as it is relatively low cost; I'm not willing to invest in say Photoshop or InDesign for my low-end needs.

    I really miss Gordy's ALPS printing at Excelsior Rocketry!

    Anyway, what software do you guys use for this kind of thing? Quite possibly the tools I already have are sufficient; I may just need to learn them better.

    Marc

    Thou shalt not violate causality within my historic light cone. Or Else.
    NAR member 92906

  2. #2
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    After struggling with Inkscape for years, I finally cracked a wobbly and spent $70 - I've been using Affinity Designer on the Mac and I've got to say: this is the best and most intuitive vector based app I've ever used.

    1:1 scale printing is a snap and I've been able to create some (what I think anyway, is) awesome stuff.

    https://affinity.serif.com/en-gb/

    It's available for windows also apparently.

    Reasonably new to rocketry and hailing from the land down under.. I speak metric... I know not of these feet and inches you speak of...

    QRS: #193
    AMRS: #148

  3. #3
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    Forgot to mention: my workflow is to drop an image in, then vector draw over it to recreate it in vector format - basically using it like a light table to trace the original.

    Once it's a vector, scale all you want at full quality.
    Reasonably new to rocketry and hailing from the land down under.. I speak metric... I know not of these feet and inches you speak of...

    QRS: #193
    AMRS: #148

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Hi Marc,

    Inkscape works. I just tried it out on a PDF. Steps:

    1) Import: File > Import from Menu to get your PDF decal(s) into Inkscape.

    2) Select decals: Hit [F2] or click 2nd icon with arrow and path nodes to enter "Edit paths by nodes" mode.
    2a) click to select letter or decals you want; [shift]-click to add/toggle extra letters or decals.
    2b) copy with [Ctrl]-c
    2c) paste with [Ctrl]-v

    3) Select your new decal(s) before scaling:
    3a) Hit [F1] or click 1st icon with select arrow to switch back to "Select and transform objects"
    3b) select your new, copied decal part(s): either draw a selection box around them, or individually [shift]-click them
    (you can optionally group them together with [Ctrl]-g).

    4) Scale: Object > Transform from Menu
    4a) click Scale tab, 2nd one
    4b) click/check Scale proportionally box
    4c) select your up/downscale and click [Apply]

    Voila! Rinse, lather, and repeat steps 2-4 as needed. Note that this only works for vector graphic PDFs; for image PDFs, you may have to a) isolate & scale individual elements, or b) trace & redraw everything in vector format. Good luck & have fun!

    ps - more sci-fi models, please!
    Last edited by grapetang; 11th September 2017 at 07:48 AM. Reason: Procedure is only for vector graphic PDFs
    LUNAR #2688, launches scrubbed, T minus 10 and holding indefinitely...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    9th January 2017
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    I would recommend Corel Paint Shop Pro. You can select part of the image, copy it, and past it in a new window and resize it. After you get all the parts resized go to pint layout and arrange them on the page to be printed. Best part is the 30 day free trial. The only down side is I hate how it opens pdf files, hopefully you can scan it as an image file instead.

  6. #6
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    Thanks guys. I will sort through this over the next day or two. Indeed, my PDF is really just a high res scan bitmap. What I'm trying to do is avoid needing to redraw it as a vector. It's already at acceptable resolution; I just need to copy bits of it and scale down proportionally a certain percentage. Let's see what I can figure out. I have figured out a way to do it in Hypersnap, if I manually calculate the required pixel sizes... The problem with doing that is that then I loose resolution.
    Thou shalt not violate causality within my historic light cone. Or Else.
    NAR member 92906

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by snrkl View Post
    cracked a wobbly
    Translation please.
    1:1 scale printing is a snap and I've been able to create some (what I think anyway, is) awesome stuff.
    You *have* done some really nice work.

    I have used Inkscape to create files for laser cutting, and although I eventually succeeded it was a struggle. I'll give Affinity Designer a look.
    Recently completed: APRO Lander II and Starship Avalon; next up: Accur8-skinned Trajector and Ragnarok Orbital Interceptor
    My design thread; photo albums: fleet pics and OR Models;

  8. #8
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    Definition: https://www.collinsdictionary.com/am...throw-a-wobbly

    This is close enough.
    Reasonably new to rocketry and hailing from the land down under.. I speak metric... I know not of these feet and inches you speak of...

    QRS: #193
    AMRS: #148

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by snrkl View Post
    After struggling with Inkscape for years, I finally cracked a wobbly and spent $70 - I've been using Affinity Designer on the Mac and I've got to say: this is the best and most intuitive vector based app I've ever used.

    1:1 scale printing is a snap and I've been able to create some (what I think anyway, is) awesome stuff.

    https://affinity.serif.com/en-gb/

    It's available for windows also apparently.
    My daughter is a freelance artist and switched from Adobe to Affinity's products and has been very happy with the results and even better she no longer has to pay Adobe a monthly subscription. I switched from Corel Draw Pro/Inkscape/WinPC Sign to Affinity Designer earlier this year to drive my vinyl cutting machine and find it very easy to work with.
    Dennis Kingsley
    NAR #97251, TRA #17554, MDRA #128
    L1 - Madcow Torrent
    L2 - Madcow Sensor
    L3 - Extended Madcow Stinger

  10. #10
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    I'm quite happy to spend a little bit to get a tool that works better than freeware. Not to put down freeware though... I use and enjoy many freeware tools.
    My issue is that my sources are bitmaps inside scaled PDF... Copying the bitmap into matter other programs loses the scale info. Extra work to fix that. And, bitmap editing inside a PDF isn't really a thing, as far as I can tell.

    So as usual my desire to do something simple is confounded by my use case being nonstandard.

    I think I got something working with hypersnap but my first printout before leaving for work was 5% too small or so... Probably a fit to page size box needs to be unchecked. Will play with it tonight.

    Sent from my ONEPLUS A3000 using Tapatalk
    Thou shalt not violate causality within my historic light cone. Or Else.
    NAR member 92906

  11. #11
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    I use Illustrator for this kind of work. I have it for label design - so the business eats the expense. It's handy for working with PDFs, as it can deconstruct the layers and objects. (OpenRocket makes really complicated groups.)

    The Auto Trace is really handy, as is the Capture App on the iPhone. I'll snap a picture of a Neil_W design on the phone, trace it there, save it to the cloud library, pull it up on the laptop, convert it to laser cutting files and email it to my boy to cut at the high school as a 13mm rocket before Neil is done playing with the decal design.

    Powerful - not cheap.
    Charles McGonegal
    Ciderwright at AeppelTreow Winery & Distillery
    www.appletrue.com
    NAR #103560 L1 6/25/17 Estes Leviathan CTI H175-SS
    Ad Astra Tabernamque!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charles_McG View Post
    The Auto Trace is really handy, as is the Capture App on the iPhone. I'll snap a picture of a Neil_W design on the phone, trace it there, save it to the cloud library, pull it up on the laptop, convert it to laser cutting files and email it to my boy to cut at the high school as a 13mm rocket before Neil is done playing with the decal design.
    This is where I'm compelled to ask if you're talking hypothetically here, or have actually done this. In which case... details please!
    Recently completed: APRO Lander II and Starship Avalon; next up: Accur8-skinned Trajector and Ragnarok Orbital Interceptor
    My design thread; photo albums: fleet pics and OR Models;

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by neil_w View Post
    This is where I'm compelled to ask if you're talking hypothetically here, or have actually done this. In which case... details please!
    Only hypothetically so far - though I 've thought really hard about it. I'm still working through my US manned space flight phase, and I haven't gotten back to fantasy scale.

    I could probably knock one out for demonstration purposes, if you 'd like to see it done. Want some cutter ready AI files?
    Charles McGonegal
    Ciderwright at AeppelTreow Winery & Distillery
    www.appletrue.com
    NAR #103560 L1 6/25/17 Estes Leviathan CTI H175-SS
    Ad Astra Tabernamque!

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charles_McG View Post
    Only hypothetically so far - though I 've thought really hard about it. I'm still working through my US manned space flight phase, and I haven't gotten back to fantasy scale.

    I could probably knock one out for demonstration purposes, if you 'd like to see it done. Want some cutter ready AI files?
    No thanks, nothing I'm planning to build at the moment, and I've been hand-cutting most stuff these days anyway. But if you ever build something using this workflow please share.
    Recently completed: APRO Lander II and Starship Avalon; next up: Accur8-skinned Trajector and Ragnarok Orbital Interceptor
    My design thread; photo albums: fleet pics and OR Models;

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc_G View Post
    Indeed, my PDF is really just a high res scan bitmap. What I'm trying to do is avoid needing to redraw it as a vector. It's already at acceptable resolution; I just need to copy bits of it and scale down proportionally a certain percentage. Let's see what I can figure out.
    Oops! You can do that too in Inkscape. After importing your PDF:

    1) Draw a box, circle, closed polygon path (w/ Bezier tool) around the desired bitmap decal.
    2) Select both the box,etc and the full decal.
    3) Object > Clip > Set from Menu
    4) copy, paste, & scale from before

    You can undo the clipping with Object > Clip > Release so you don't have to keep importing. Since you're downscaling, your resolution should be good. If you wanted to upscale, Inkscape does have a trace function as well.

    I own ancient, legit versions of Adobe Photoshop 6 and Illustrator 9 that I use when the need arises, though I'm sure they've been eclipsed by freeware GIMP and Inkscape. I use Inkscape in a pinch.

    Stay free! Good luck!
    LUNAR #2688, launches scrubbed, T minus 10 and holding indefinitely...

  16. #16
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    Great info guys. I will parse through it and keep you updated on progress!

    Sent from my ONEPLUS A3000 using Tapatalk
    Thou shalt not violate causality within my historic light cone. Or Else.
    NAR member 92906

  17. #17
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    Just FYI this thread may go dark at least from me for a few days... limited time in evenings this week then away for the weekend. I'll be back at it next week. I've downloaded several software packages and will poke at them for utility and eventually figure out the best way to do what I need, posting back here for the record. I did get Hypersnap to print out correct scale by manually tweaking it (printing at 106% of the fit to width standard...), but it's really not the right tool for the task. Let me see if I can conquer Inkscape and Gimp, and I've got my eye on Affinity...
    Thou shalt not violate causality within my historic light cone. Or Else.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by grapetang View Post
    Hi Marc,

    Inkscape works. I just tried it out on a PDF. Steps:

    1) Import: File > Import from Menu to get your PDF decal(s) into Inkscape.

    2) Select decals: Hit [F2] or click 2nd icon with arrow and path nodes to enter "Edit paths by nodes" mode.
    2a) click to select letter or decals you want; [shift]-click to add/toggle extra letters or decals.
    2b) copy with [Ctrl]-c
    2c) paste with [Ctrl]-v

    3) Select your new decal(s) before scaling:
    3a) Hit [F1] or click 1st icon with select arrow to switch back to "Select and transform objects"
    3b) select your new, copied decal part(s): either draw a selection box around them, or individually [shift]-click them
    (you can optionally group them together with [Ctrl]-g).

    4) Scale: Object > Transform from Menu
    4a) click Scale tab, 2nd one
    4b) click/check Scale proportionally box
    4c) select your up/downscale and click [Apply]

    Voila! Rinse, lather, and repeat steps 2-4 as needed. Note that this only works for vector graphic PDFs; for image PDFs, you may have to a) isolate & scale individual elements, or b) trace & redraw everything in vector format. Good luck & have fun!

    ps - more sci-fi models, please!
    Quote Originally Posted by grapetang View Post
    Oops! You can do that too in Inkscape. After importing your PDF:

    1) Draw a box, circle, closed polygon path (w/ Bezier tool) around the desired bitmap decal.
    2) Select both the box,etc and the full decal.
    3) Object > Clip > Set from Menu
    4) copy, paste, & scale from before

    You can undo the clipping with Object > Clip > Release so you don't have to keep importing. Since you're downscaling, your resolution should be good. If you wanted to upscale, Inkscape does have a trace function as well.

    I own ancient, legit versions of Adobe Photoshop 6 and Illustrator 9 that I use when the need arises, though I'm sure they've been eclipsed by freeware GIMP and Inkscape. I use Inkscape in a pinch.

    Stay free! Good luck!
    Thanks @grapetang for the assistance. Despite clear directions on your part, it took me about ten tries before I was able to successfully (more or less) follow them and get a clipped decal... it turns out to be very hard for me to select the original decal sheet (which is the whole page) and the box surrounding the part I want to clone. I can draw a box around the decal of interest. Easy. I choose the first tool (select and transform objects). Easy. When I choose this tool, my box which is still the highlighted element, shows arrows and stuff around it. But when I select the main decal as indicated, I lose the selection of my highlighted decal. I figured I would need to control-click my box and the background decal, but it seems to be shift-click is needed. But sometimes that selects other boxes or layers too...

    I'm very clumsy still, but I've figured out at least theoretically how to do it with your help. Much appreciated. Won't have much time to perfect it until next week, but at least I know the operations are possible... :-)
    Thou shalt not violate causality within my historic light cone. Or Else.
    NAR member 92906

  19. #19
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    A short period of time with GIMP gave me the results I needed. It's designed for applications more in line with my use case. I was able to figure it out pretty easily, though the fact that there doesn't seem to be a default selection pointer tool gave me a few fits. Since GIMP isn't really about objects, the lack of that typical arrow pointer thingie isn't a surprise. Though I'm having some copy/paste procedural issues, I've got it working pretty well and have a page that has my decals sized appropriately and scaled properly when printed out.

    Actually printing will wait for next week. I think I need to change my black toner for maximum density... I've been printing on an "empty" toner cartridge for six months. :-) I have a brother 9130CW color laser printer, if anyone is interested.
    Thou shalt not violate causality within my historic light cone. Or Else.
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  20. #20
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    Glad you found something that works for you! Ooo... color laser printer. Would love to see what you can make with that!
    LUNAR #2688, launches scrubbed, T minus 10 and holding indefinitely...

  21. #21
    Join Date
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    I have had tremendous success with CorelDraw, a vector graphics program similar to MicroSoft's MSDraw program. There is a learning curve but once you get the hang of it the sky is the limit (pardon the pun). Here are some renderings I have developed for my current project and just doodles when I get bored. Love being retired.
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    TRA #17397
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  22. #22
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    Glad you found something that works for you! Ooo... color laser printer. Would love to see what you can make with that!
    LUNAR #2688, launches scrubbed, T minus 10 and holding indefinitely...
    Color laser printing is the bomb. Just make sure that you set up for heavyweight high gloss paper with the highest DPI setting you can possibly achieve. Remember to run a test sheet on plane old paper, if satisfied (look at the ink saturation and make sure that it is heavy and opaque) then go for it. Once the sheet is printed hit it with a coat of clear coat to seal the ink and allow to dry thoroughly.
    TRA #17397
    Graduate of the University of Hardknocks
    and Academy of Life Experiences


    "Vestibulum victus aptet"

  23. #23
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    @rockiteer, love your pics!

    Sadly I'm no artist... not even a little bit, from a drawing perspective. I'm content to use tools to scale existing art up and down, in a pinch maybe redraw something existing into a vector, but that's about it for me. I can describe what I want, but making my hand create it is a no go for me. Coreldraw looks awesome but I'm not worthy of it.

    Meanwhile, I was able to print out the decals after changing the toner cartridge to avoid washed out areas.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I printed at 2400 dpi but that's pretty meaningless since the original scan was I think 300 or 600 dpi.

    Looking closely I can see the pixelation but you have to really look to see it. It's fine, though in future projects I'll work to minimize it.

    Thanks all! Great advice here in this thread. Much appreciated.
    Thou shalt not violate causality within my historic light cone. Or Else.
    NAR member 92906

  24. #24
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    Looks good from here!

    Recently completed: APRO Lander II and Starship Avalon; next up: Accur8-skinned Trajector and Ragnarok Orbital Interceptor
    My design thread; photo albums: fleet pics and OR Models;

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