Author Topic: Tools for developing decal artwork  (Read 760 times)

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Lemosteam

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Tools for developing decal artwork
« on: February 01, 2019, 10:40:34 AM »
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I want to design my own decal artwork for obvious reasons WRT Keystone Details., and to save costs paying someone else to do so.  Then I can get accurate quotes for printing them.

I know the a vector file type is crucial to the process and I know many use CorelDRAW software.

I have also used a PDF, but I am not sure if the person that printed them used that file directly.  I can actually design decals in CAD (fonts are a bitch) create a CAD drawing, and export that drawing as pdf, dxf dwg, svg, etc.

Here is a list of questions that would help me much  (the word "printer" below refers to the person printing the decals.

- Are there any other software that can accomplish the same task?  Photoshop, etc.?  I don't want to buy Corel if I already have a software that will accomplish the same goal.

- What is the best vector format to save or create to minimize work for the printer?

- What type of fonts are required to print crisp lettering?

- Are True Type fonts already vector based or will I have to draw on top of them?

- Which software is best at fonts?

- Is just a PDF good enough to use for artwork from the printer's perspective?
 
- Are there decal background templates that have the crop markings for decal sheet sizing on them?

- What are the standard decal sheet sizes?

- Are there any colors that should be avoided WRT various printers or printing machines?

- Are there typical print settings I should insist on as a customer?

Please add any more questions and answers in your reply if willing, Tips and tricks?  thanks in advance for our thoughts and opinions.




C855B

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Re: Tools for developing decal artwork
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2019, 11:03:36 AM »
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So many questions! :D

A few answers:

- Unfortunately, CorelDraw is probably your best bet. There are very few programs which allow the degree of font and lettering manipulation that professional graphics programs do. I use Adobe Illustrator, the last shrinkwrap version bought back when I was in the graphics biz. AI is stupid expensive now, under an equally-stupid software rental plan.

- Vector format: PDF is the common coin of the graphics world now. Maximum control for you, minimum hassle for the output provider.

- TrueType is a vector format which uses an internal technique called "hinting".

  - Hinting can be a problem at smaller sizes since it over-smooths the outline. If you're doing lots of small lettering, work at a 2X or better size, and then specify reduction on generating the PDF.

- Pro apps (Corel & AI, for starters) have "outline text" functions that convert them for you to manipulate.

- You'll likely have to create your own decal templates for crop marks.

- Standard size for custom printing is 8.5x11. You're welcome to slice and dice for your own purposes, I usually get 6 to a sheet.

- Subtle differences in shades of brown are difficult to render accurately on CMYKW machines. Not a "don't go there", just be aware of the issue.

- Anybody who does decal work (Circus City, for instance) knows what settings are best for their device. You don't need to be concerned there.

The PDF and CMYKW advice above changes if your objective is, say, Micro Scale, for silk screening larger quantities. They may want PDF for spot color separations, so you'll need to have that conversation with them.
...mike

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Lemosteam

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Re: Tools for developing decal artwork
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2019, 01:28:26 PM »
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@C855B , thank you for your responses VERY helpful.

- So if I had say the whole adobe photoshop 2017 suite (with AI, etc) available to me, this would suffice for CorelDraw? 

- If I understand you correctly the printers exclusively only need a pdf.  I.e. they would not need my master file to print the decals?

     -This definitely opens up the possibility of using CAD for the Decal designs!

- How close to the edge of the 8.5 X 11" can they print waterslides?

- One last question- are the vendors familiar with RR colors, etc or does the pdf have to be the desired color (RGB, etc.)?

bbussey

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Re: Tools for developing decal artwork
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2019, 01:32:01 PM »
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I use CorelDraw and output to PDF at scale size to send to the contractor. I do this for decal artwork and pad printing artwork for injection molded models. I send CDR files outright for etchings.

Convert any fonts in your document to curves to eliminate any deviations at the destination.

In the old days, you would output to the PDF as separate printing plates and include the crop marks and postscript markings in your settings in CorelDraw. But in the here and now, just output the file to PDF, as the contractor can deconstruct the PDF as needed. Also, put each color on a separate layer in Corel, in the proper print sequence.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2019, 01:41:33 PM by bbussey »
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bbussey

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Re: Tools for developing decal artwork
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2019, 01:35:36 PM »
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I use Pantone colors whenever possible. Otherwise I supply paint chip samples, by dipping a styrene stick the dimensions of a tongue depressor into a bottle of paint for a thick coat and labeling the sample with a Sharpie at the other end.
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peteski

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Re: Tools for developing decal artwork
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2019, 03:15:41 PM »
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Corel Draw is my choice too, but Adobe Illustrator is basically the same thing (more expensive to buy).  For a free vector-based alternative see Inkscape.  But make sure that Inkscape can export the drawing in a format which will be acceptable to the vendor doing your decals.

You also do not need the latest-and-greatest version.  I use the now-ancient versions 10 and 12 (they are up to version 18 now) and either of those old versions has more features than I'll even need for decal and etching artwork.  Of course, at some future date, the file format might be unacceptable to the vendors who will be using current versions, but for now I'm all set.
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MVW

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Re: Tools for developing decal artwork
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2019, 04:33:20 PM »
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What about InDesign? With the finished product output as a PDF, of course.

I already use InDesign for some on-going free-lance work I'm doing. I'm paying a monthly fee of $25 to $30 a month, I believe.

Jim

bbussey

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Re: Tools for developing decal artwork
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2019, 05:57:22 PM »
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Corel Draw is my choice too, but Adobe Illustrator is basically the same thing (more expensive to buy).  For a free vector-based alternative see Inkscape.  But make sure that Inkscape can export the drawing in a format which will be acceptable to the vendor doing your decals.

You also do not need the latest-and-greatest version.  I use the now-ancient versions 10 and 12 (they are up to version 18 now) and either of those old versions has more features than I'll even need for decal and etching artwork.  Of course, at some future date, the file format might be unacceptable to the vendors who will be using current versions, but for now I'm all set.

I have versions 8, 12 and 14, which allows me to open file versions 5 through 14. No reason to go higher because PPD accepts version 14 files.
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peteski

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Re: Tools for developing decal artwork
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2019, 06:07:03 PM »
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What about InDesign? With the finished product output as a PDF, of course.

I already use InDesign for some on-going free-lance work I'm doing. I'm paying a monthly fee of $25 to $30 a month, I believe.

Jim

Not familiar with it, but if the output is standard vector-based PDF, and if the company you work with accepts PDF, then that should work for you.

For example, if I was going to receive PDF artwork, my Corel Draw will have problems with importing newer versions of PDFs.  But "real" decal companies usually use latest version of graphic programs which should be more compatible with current versions of PDFs.
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MVW

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Re: Tools for developing decal artwork
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2019, 06:58:50 PM »
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Not familiar with it, but if the output is standard vector-based PDF, and if the company you work with accepts PDF, then that should work for you.

For example, if I was going to receive PDF artwork, my Corel Draw will have problems with importing newer versions of PDFs.  But "real" decal companies usually use latest version of graphic programs which should be more compatible with current versions of PDFs.

If I'm not mistaken, InDesign is the latest iteration of what was originally known as PageMaker (way back in the '80s). Then QuarkXPress came along. Now InDesign seems to be the standard with a lot of the places I work with. I've used all three for newspaper and magazine design, so I have to imagine its robust enough for decals.  :)

Jim

C855B

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Re: Tools for developing decal artwork
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2019, 07:15:32 PM »
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What about InDesign? With the finished product output as a PDF, of course.

Not if you're going to manipulate font outlines. ID can stretch and squeeze and has excellent control of letterspacing, kerning and other type attributes, plus convert fonts to outlines for output, but there are no tools for adjusting character traces. That is unique to the drawing tools, AI and Corel.

Which reminds me - most output services will ask for PDFs with all type converted to outlines. There are hundreds of thousands of fonts out there, and while there are somewhat standard sets that came with your computer, that the vendor's fonts will have the same versions you do is not guaranteed. This is why programs like MSWord can't be used for this kind of work, no outlining tool.
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peteski

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Re: Tools for developing decal artwork
« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2019, 10:56:34 PM »
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Which reminds me - most output services will ask for PDFs with all type converted to outlines. There are hundreds of thousands of fonts out there, and while there are somewhat standard sets that came with your computer, that the vendor's fonts will have the same versions you do is not guaranteed. This is why programs like MSWord can't be used for this kind of work, no outlining tool.

Fonts can be embedded into the PDF file, but yes, it is best to convert all fonts to outlines (or in Corel lingo, to curves).
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C855B

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Re: Tools for developing decal artwork
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2019, 11:20:42 PM »
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Fonts can be embedded into the PDF file, but yes, it is best to convert all fonts to outlines (or in Corel lingo, to curves).

Unfortunately you can't depend on embedding for a couple of reasons. First, font authors can lock their font to prohibit embedding. I don't quite understand the motivation to do so, but I guess in certain creative control environments (high-dollar agencies?) there must be reason to secure the font from non-authorized use. Second is a problem I've run into, not all raster engines support embedded fonts. I had this with Circus City, apparently the CMYKW engine used on their Okidata laser has difficulty with embeds, and I had to resubmit an otherwise correctly rendered PDF with all fonts outlined.
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peteski

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Re: Tools for developing decal artwork
« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2019, 12:12:33 AM »
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Unfortunately you can't depend on embedding for a couple of reasons. First, font authors can lock their font to prohibit embedding. I don't quite understand the motivation to do so, but I guess in certain creative control environments (high-dollar agencies?) there must be reason to secure the font from non-authorized use. Second is a problem I've run into, not all raster engines support embedded fonts. I had this with Circus City, apparently the CMYKW engine used on their Okidata laser has difficulty with embeds, and I had to resubmit an otherwise correctly rendered PDF with all fonts outlined.

Exactly - that's why I agreed that all text should be converted to outlines/curves.  Thanks for explaining the details.
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wm3798

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Re: Tools for developing decal artwork
« Reply #14 on: February 10, 2019, 08:17:48 AM »
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My drafting program has a CAD element to it, but is fairly limited in how it can manipulate fonts ( condensing, elongating, kerning etc...)  but I can lay things out in 1:1 the render a PDF in 1:160.

I guess it bears some experimentation...
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