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  1. #1
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    Coreldraw or other variants

    I have a very old version of Corel that will not operate on a 64 bit machine.

    I have a very old Microkinetics machine that operates on HPGL so I take .cdr and convert to .hpgl.

    What is the best way to take a photograph and make this conversion? I have had a table since 2000 and have only cut shapes for a job shop. Nothing artsy.

    Thanks,

    Tom

  2. #2
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    You cannot cut a photo on a CNC machine. It has to be turned into lines using "auto Trace" Your Corel should have that feature. Don't expect too much if the image is a photo or continuous tone bitmap (JPG or similar) Either that our you bring it in as a bitmap and use the tools in Corel and "digitize" it (hand trace) There are some methods to do a simulated photo (lithoplate) by pecking holes (thousands) in a surface to form the image. You won't get there with that old Microkinetics machine. It won't run G-code. They have proprietary software and hardware and you cannot drive it with other control software (i.e. MACH3)

    If you do not want the "photo" effect and want to cut shapes from drawings of digital photos make sure they are high contrast and one color scans or photos

    Even with a modern machine that process is mostly a pipe dream (marketing) You might investigate Products - PhotoVCarve and at least dream

  3. #3
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    Tom,

    I guess the term trace would better describe what I would like to do. Using the freehand tool and trying draw the shape proved a failure.

  4. #4
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    Tom,

    I guess the term trace would better describe what I would like to do.
    I would scan the photograph and trace around it. I recall that the CorelTrace system wasn't all that it was cracked up to be. I tried the freehand tool and trying draw the shape proved a failure too.

    I do realize that practice makes perfect and I have little of that

  5. #5
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    May 2013
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    I use Inkscape. It is a free vector graphic software. Works great for CNC cutting.

    It also has a feature called "Trace Bitmap" that I use all the time and works really well to make cut paths out of standard jpg, png, gif images.

  6. #6
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    Ryan,

    You have from me.

    Thanks!

    Tom

  7. #7
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    I have just bought version X4 off Ebay fairly cheap. Someone had bought it to upgrade a previous version they had, but it would not upgrade one that old. I had version 12, which was only two versions back, so it did upgrade mine. I run that X4 on 64 bit, but version 12 would not work correctly.
    I can tell you that trace seems to be much better in X4. I also trialed X6 and it works well in it too as would be expected.
    It has come a long way since much older versions. It will still take a little work to get pristine drawing vectors from a trace, but there are some magic tools that can ease the tracing now. Watch some of the videos on Youtube to see how nice it can work if you decide to get a newer version. I would check out Ebay first.
    Lee

  8. #8
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    The Corel trace works well but it has too many "options" you have to dink with. No Autotrace program is going to work well on color photos with continuous tone low contrast images. The JPG format in purpose "smears" (dithers) the edges because it is more pleasing to the eye to not have hard edges. If you watch most of marketing stuff about scan and cut the images ar simple and high contrast drawings. Doing hand tracing is a learned skill and lets you build a cut file exactly how you want it to cut with plasma.
    The auto trace does particularity poor on things like text because the human eye can spot a flaw in text that would pass in a free form drawing. Over several years of doing decorative plasma cutting as a living we have digitized over a thousand designs. We tried virtually every auto-trace package out there at the time and found to get the quality we needed for our customers we spent as much time cleaning up and editing an auto-trace as we did doing it by hand. You make or lose money based on how long the artwork side takes and how well it cuts. We always took the Corel Draw and made a bitmap or PDF and had the customer okay the final design BEFORE we put it on the table and spent the time doing the powder coat. I guess it all depends on your goals. Making stuff for free for yourself or friends is different than doing it to feed yourself. The job shop environment is different where you are cutting brackets and basic shapes.

    Inkscape has some really nice features (besides being free) and will even open older Corel Draw (CDR) file formats. It lacks some things that make it useful to what we do now. It does handle SVG really well (since that is it's native file format) and if you use SheetCAM TNG you can directly import the SVG into SheetCAM and skip the DXF step entirely. It does not do multi-page documents so if you have a project of several pages (say a gate design where you would like to have the gate itself maybe in isometric view on another page you cannot ; you have to build each file separately. There are a LOT of add-ons for CorelDraw that can greatly enhance its functionality. There are some plug-ins the let you turn your drawing into a isometric view. That can help if you are trying to sell a major gate or sign. In one circumstance we took the huge sign we had designed (in pieces) and super imposed it on the building (photo) and sent it to the customer. It resulted in a 4000.00 job.

    - - - Updated - - -

  9. #9
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    This is one of those situations where you get out the same quality you put in. You just have to learn to create vector drawings and some kind of CAD program is your best bet.

    I actually hand draw things, and then go back and draw them again creating as many actual straight lines and arcs that I can. It can take hours, but it matters. It just does. When the machine swings around an actual curve defined in g-code, it's so smooth and fluid, but if it's cut from a side-stepped, jagged curve the torch jerks and bounces and hesitates... and you get crap. And people start thinking there's something wrong with their machine, but there isn't. There's something wrong with their drawings.

    It's the most important thing you can do in this process. You can have the best equipment in the world, but a bad drawing is a bad drawing and that will ultimately lead to a bad part.

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