The Serpentine Top Opening- Practical Mat Decoration

Sometimes our mental image of a decorated mat includes frills and swirls and patterns on every square inch.  However impressive this may seem, a better idea is to add just a small touch.  This column will focus on decorative ideas you might use every day.  We all have skills and we should use them regularly – to keep our work interesting and to keep our customers thrilled.

Sometimes our mental image of a decorated mat includes frills and swirls and patterns on every square inch. However impressive this may seem, a better idea is to add just a small touch. This column will focus on decorative ideas you might use every day. We all have skills and we should use them regularly – to keep our work interesting and to keep our customers thrilled.

 

 

The Serpentine Top Opening

Probably the most widely used shaped openings are rectangles with shaped tops.  There is a shape with a gentle arc across the top and there is the ubiquitous round top opening.

Serpentine Top Example

In an earlier column, there was a matted example with an opening shape from this family that framers found interesting but elusive.  It was a rectangle with a serpentine curve across the top.  The shapes mentioned above can be made directly using templates, but this serpentine top opening requires an alternative view of this particular template to see the possibility, then one small alteration – an alteration that, happily, can be done in the design program.

Like all templates in most programs, one template can be transformed into several shapes by adjusting the parameters.  This particular template in the Wizard program can make a flared corner opening, a serpentine top opening, and in a previous column we used it to make a Kobe corner opening.

Beginning the Design

When you use this template shape, the default parameter settings suggest the flared corners together with the serpentine top and bottom.  It then falls to the designer to refine the shape by changing the parameters.

01 Temp 314

Design the opening.  In this illustration, we have set the size, the number of layers, the reveal sizes, and the border sizes.  The template is number 314.

Click the Parameters tab at the bottom and look over the array of settings.  What do all these settings do?

Refining the Shape

When you are curious about a particular parameter, click the question mark beside the template ID number at the top.  This opens the Parameter Map.  This particular one is fairly complicated because there are seven parameters, but the illustrations are helpful.

02 Parameter Map

Then click the plus and minus buttons beside each parameter, enter new values in the fields, and watch the changes to get a better idea of how the parameters work.

 

We want to have only the serpentine curve across the top.  No flared corners, no Kobe corners.

03 New Parameters

Change all the parameters to zero except the top one – Arc Height.  You will see only the serpentine curve at the top and bottom.  Change the Arc Height setting to suit your vision.

Experiment with the next two parameters, too.  Side Arc Offset moves the beginning of the curves to the inside of the opening.  Here it is set quite small - a quarter inch.

To complete the project, we want to remove the serpentine curve from the bottom of the opening.

The Auxiliary Opening

We will add another opening at the bottom to simply cover the curve along the bottom.

04 copy opening

Copy and Paste to duplicate the opening.  This is the easiest way to get an opening with the same width and the same reveals.

Its placement does not concern us at this point.  But do not disturb the original opening.

Changing the Shape

Next, change the new opening into a rectangle.  Click the Change Template button and select the rectangular shape from the template menu.

05 changes to rectangle

It is handy to know that you are also able to enter the template number to change the template shape.  In this illustration the yellow field at the top reads 101 – the ID number of the rectangular template in the Wizard program.

 

This rectangular opening must be exactly as wide as the original opening, and all the mat layers must line up, but it needs to be shorter.  Remember that it needs to be tall enough to cover the bottom curve, but not so tall that it covers any of the top serpentine curve.

06 shorter

Either drag the handle at the top of the opening down to make it shorter, or enter a smaller value in the Height field.

Aligning the Openings

Now snap the rectangular opening into place with its bottom against the bottom of the original opening and its sides against the sides of the original opening.

07 snap into place

Actually, you are using the snapping properties of the borders.  If you are not feeling that positive snap as the bottoms and sides pop into alignment, check to make sure the borders are properly against the original opening.

Merging the Openings

The final step is to merge the two openings.

08 openings selected

Select both the openings.

Click the Advanced tab at the top.

At the left there is a button labeled Group Selection.

Every mat design program has a merge feature like this.  The glamour part of this function is to form new shapes with overlapping openings like this example, but its primary use is to lock a number of items together as you are designing a complicated array.

 

When you click the Group Selection button, the program merges the paths of the two openings and the design is finally as we imagined.  It is ready to cut.

09 grouped

It is possible that you would look at the serpentine curve across the top and want to make changes.  If you click the Properties tab for the opening, you will find that the parameters are no longer available now that this is a grouped opening.

You can still adjust parameters.  Note that the Group Selection button is now the Ungroup Selection button.  If you ungroup the openings, you will be able to select the serpentine opening and make further parameter adjustments.

As is normal for this column, this explanation shows the steps in the Wizard software.  Perhaps the software you use has direct parameters for this particular shape – a fortunate turn of events.  But perhaps this device of using an auxiliary opening to cover unnecessary details is just the solution you were searching for in order to accomplish some other design in your imagination.

As is normal for this column, this explanation shows the steps in the Wizard software.  Perhaps the software you use has direct parameters for this particular shape – a fortunate turn of events.  But perhaps this device of using an auxiliary opening to cover unnecessary details is just the solution you were searching for in order to accomplish some other design in your imagination.

Brian Wolf has been a picture framing educator since 1979, specializing in decorative matting techniques. He is the artistry ambassador for Wizard International, Inc. Contact him at WizardU@wizardint.com  Brian’s column is sponsored by Wizard.  www.wizardint.com or call 1-888-855-3335

Pencil Captions – Practical Mat Decoration – December 2013

Sometimes our mental image of a decorated mat includes frills and swirls and patterns on every square inch.  However impressive this may seem, a better idea is to add just a small touch.  This column will focus on decorative ideas you might use every day.  We all have skills and we should use them regularly – to keep our work interesting and to keep our customers thrilled.

Sometimes our mental image of a decorated mat includes frills and swirls and patterns on every square inch. However impressive this may seem, a better idea is to add just a small touch. This column will focus on decorative ideas you might use every day. We all have skills and we should use them regularly – to keep our work interesting and to keep our customers thrilled.

Pencil Captions

There were a few questions about a suggestion made at the end of a recent column.  The suggestion called to mind the fact that small captions under pictures were once hand lettered with a hard pencil.  So many of us learned engineering script as students.  It was never perfect printing, it always had the hallmarks of handwork, but it was always quite small and it was always legible.  This early training in careful letter formation turned out to be useful for writing captions on mats.

101 Date

We use engineering script here as a starting point because so many of us are fairly well practiced with it.  But it remains engineering script in all its connotations – the most disconcerting of which is that it is a trifle sterile.  We can look in many places for ideas to dress up our lettering.

Ornament Ideas

There are a number of thin line fonts we can copy for ideas.  The fonts illustrated here are called Calamity Jane and Speedball 1, 2, and 3.  Look over the details of the letters and you will see a few variations adaptable for your lettering.

04 Calamity Jane01 Speedball 103 Speedball 302 Speedball 2

Keep in mind that there is a fine line between ornamentation and affectation.  A few flourishes on these tiny letters are generally sufficient to give a caption its individuality.  You will find that lower case letters will be almost always the same.  Perhaps you will vary the lengths of the ending strokes of the f, j, or y.  The upper case letters offer many more possibilities for variation.  Finishing strokes like the tail of the R, the Q, or the K can have extensions or flourishes.  Some letters – the A, E, F, G, Q, and S, for example – can take completely different forms from font to font.

The placement of the letters is another variation to consider.  Review the column from a few months ago.  One caption was all upper case letters.  It had larger beginning and ending letters.  The letters were even across the top, too.  Another caption had exaggerated capital letters that floated to where they looked best, regardless of the baseline.  Any of these typographical devices would add a different character to the caption.

Mechanical Hints: Guide Lines

Begin by drawing guide lines for the baseline, the x height, and the top of the upper case letters.  Draw several vertical lines, too, to use as a reference as you draw vertical letter strokes.  Use a soft pencil for the guide lines and draw them faintly.  You will be lettering with a hard pencil and you will be able to erase the faint guide lines without disturbing the lettering.

102 With Guides

Sizes

Everyone will have their own size preferences.  Some people prefer larger letters because slight errors are not quite so glaring.  Others prefer smaller letters because smaller circles and curves are easier to draw accurately when they are smaller.  The x height of the letters in these examples is not quite a sixteenth inch high.  The total height of the upper case letters is about an eighth inch.

The Matboard

Choose the matboard for these lettering projects for its handling properties as much as for the color - Can you erase the guide lines without a trace?  Will the matboard’s surface be marred as you work on it?  Will the matboard’s texture be a factor as you draw?  Heavy textures may force the pencil point into an angled or curved line, rather than the straight vertical line you intended.

The Pencil

Use a 2H, 4H, 6H, or harder graphite for the lettering.  Traditional wooden pencils work better for this than modern mechanical pencils.  The graphite has more support and is much less likely to break as you make small curves or press hard.  Sharpen the pencils with a file or fine sandpaper.

The graphite for these examples was 2H.  This is a bit darker than normal, so that the letters would show better in the photography.  4H graphite is preferable.  It leaves a more understated caption and it still has plenty of contrast to be easily legible.

As you letter, press to deboss as much as to write.  This allows no way to erase a mistake, but you will find that you will letter slowly and carefully enough that mistakes will be rare.

Centering

When you want to center a hand lettered caption, begin by lettering the caption exactly as the final caption will be on a scrap.  Measure its length and calculate the starting point so that the final caption will be centered on the mat.  Realize that with small variations in the letters’ sizes and spacing, the caption could easily end up as much as an eighth inch off center.

With this in mind, consider the option of positioning the caption well to the left or to the right.  The presentation may not have that completely formal look, but it will be clear to all that the caption is meant to be off center.

Write Things Correctly

When you are lettering by hand, you will be writing names, dates, places, and possibly short sentences.  Do not let the extra effort of hand lettering be your excuse for using abbreviations, though.  We are writing captions for pictures to be admired for years to come.  Write entire names.  If there is a military academic designation, write it completely and correctly.  Write out the entire names of months, and write out the entire names of cities, states, and countries.  Always include necessary punctuation.

103 With Lines

This may be the most impractical advice you have ever gotten.  In the face of technological devices that can draw letters for us, what is the sense of presenting ideas on how lettering can be done by hand?  The validity of any answers to this question will depend on the ins and outs of your shop.

How else can we add such a small caption under a picture, though?  The smallest practical CMC lettering is around three-sixteenths of an inch high.  And, how else can we make a caption this understated?

We often overstate the efficiency of computerized processes.  When we want to add a caption under a picture with the computerized mat cutter, there will be design and refinement time.  Once we are practiced and confident with hand lettering, there are guide lines to draw, a little measuring, and the lettering itself.  The time spent will probably be equal.  The obvious difference is that with a computerized mat cutter, everyone in the shop will be equally competent at lettering.

Hand lettering, however, gives every framer an answer to one of the saddest stories in all of our experiences.  A customer presents us with a photo to frame.  It may be beautiful or it may be tattered, but we hear that it is the only known image of some relative.  The customer is probably thinking how nice it would be to add something that would identify the picture to every viewer.  We, at the same moment, might be thinking that without any identification, this could easily become known as “The odd picture Aunt Mabel had hanging in her hallway.”  It would be relegated to a garage sale once its significance is forgotten.

And of course, if we can draw letters by hand with a pencil, why can we not draw pencil lines around the opening?...lines that are broken to include the inscription, lines whose ends have a small decorative element?

Brian Wolf has been a picture framing educator since 1979, specializing in decorative matting techniques. He is the artistry ambassador for Wizard International, Inc. Contact him at WizardU@wizardint.com  Brian’s column is sponsored by Wizard.  www.wizardint.com or call 1-888-855-3335

Step Up Your Game

As a sales rep and a true custom framer at heart, I enjoy seeing the creative designs and problem solving exhibited by you. I wanted to post a "brag column" allowing framers to show off proud accomplishments. A focus of this guild is education, and through the photos posted monthly in this feature, I wish to get our creative juices flowing and hopefully teach an old dog a new trick or even a new pup and old trick every now and then. I promise to always have a camera with me, plus invite you to email your own photos to me at JenniferJPatterson1@yahoo.com

As a sales rep and a true custom framer at heart, I enjoy seeing the creative designs and problem solving exhibited by you. I wanted to post a "brag column" allowing framers to show off proud accomplishments. A focus of this guild is education, and through the photos posted monthly in this feature, I wish to get our creative juices flowing and hopefully teach an old dog a new trick or even a new pup and old trick every now and then. I promise to always have a camera with me, plus invite you to email your own photos to me at JenniferJPatterson1@yahoo.com

There is a two for one lesson here.  The first is an out of the box approach to matting.

photo 2

In this sea shell grouping done by Juanita Schmidt of Frame It, Ltd., 2 of the frames have unique weighting to break up the sameness of everything being even.  In the second picture, Holly of Daniel Smith gave the bird more perching room by bottom weighting her mat.

photo 1

The second lesson here and quite possibly the more important one, is the use of Museum Glass in ALL of these store displays.  I believe to show this glass is to have customers fall in love with it, and want it - seeing its performance helps to justify its price tag.  Very sadly and alarmingly, I recently heard two different framers describe Museum Glass to their clients as something to use and attempt to sell only on heirlooms.  My response to that is the opposite - anti-reflective glasses are for when you want to actually see what's on your walls!   Having art you cannot see is like having a favorite comfy chair you cannot sit in!

Decorative Breaks – Practical Mat Decoration

Sometimes our mental image of a decorated mat includes frills and swirls and patterns on every square inch.  However impressive this may seem, a better idea is to add just a small touch.  This column will focus on decorative ideas you might use every day.  We all have skills and we should use them regularly – to keep our work interesting and to keep our customers thrilled.

Sometimes our mental image of a decorated mat includes frills and swirls and patterns on every square inch. However impressive this may seem, a better idea is to add just a small touch. This column will focus on decorative ideas you might use every day. We all have skills and we should use them regularly – to keep our work interesting and to keep our customers thrilled.

 

Decorative Breaks in a Narrow Reveal

As we are looking for ways to use the computerized mat cutter to its fullest, we see that the standard corner treatments and ornamental cutouts are often not the answer.  How can we include decorative cutting in a different way?

This idea begins as a triple mat.  The top and bottom layers are rectangular.  There is a decorative break in the narrow middle layer.  The eighth inch of color is broken and a decorative element peeks from the break between the top and bottom layers.

201 Beginning Photo

This idea is not part of any standard computerized mat cutter program.  Making a mat like this requires the use of the drawing program – both to draw the decorative breaks and to integrate them into the middle layer of the mat.

Drawing the Decorative Breaks

This is a very good beginning drawing project.  You will learn and exercise a number of the drawing functions.  There are not line by line drawing instructions to follow, but the hints offer a good start as you learn more about drawing.

001 Breaks Graphic

Here is a picture of six variations on this idea.  Copy it and save it as a graphic file.  The first design is the decorative break used in the photograph at the beginning.  The next three variations change only the crown of the break.  The last variation is the break used in the photograph at the end.  They have all been tested and they cut nicely provided they are in these proportions and they are 1.5 inches high.

Using the Image

Put this image into the background of PathTrace and draw lines and arcs that follow the lines and arcs in the picture.

002 Path Trace Drawing

When the image is in the background, make it 1.75 inches high and 3.85 inches wide.  This will make the picture the proper size and proportion so that the images of the decorative breaks themselves will be 1.5 inches high.

This illustration of the drawing in progress is zoomed in on the element on the left to get a closer look.  Note the Height and Width settings of the image at the lower left.

There is an Opacity slider above the size field to make the image more faint so that you can see the lines you are drawing more clearly.  The element on the right is only the image.  You can see the darker gray lines we are drawing on the element on the left.

The Decorative Breaks’ Construction

All these breaks are drawn with only lines and arcs.

The vertical line at the top of each one needs to be exactly in line with the vertical line at its bottom.

The arcs and lines at the tops of all these breaks are identical to the arcs and lines at their bottoms.

A Few Drawing Reminders

To draw perfectly horizontal or vertical lines, hold the Control key on the keyboard as you draw.

To snap the beginning of a line or an arc to specific point, move the cursor near that point and right-click.  The beginning point will snap exactly onto the closest point to the cursor.

Zoom in very close to see that lines and arcs flow together without an angle.

Use the Move Point function to refine the shapes of arcs.

Use the Tangification function and the program will smooth the junctions of lines and arcs.

Draw the top half of the break, then mirror it across a horizontal center line.

Join all the segments and set each finished break to cut as a V-Groove.

Save each decorative break as its own CutArt file.  This is how you will add it to a mat design.

There will be a few more drawing reminders in the details that follow.

Integrating the Break

The decorative break has been drawn and saved as a CutArt.  To use the break in the mat design, we now need to replace the sides of the middle layer of the opening with the CutArt we have drawn.

101 In MD

Design the opening in MatDesigner.

Include the CutArt anywhere in the design.  There is no way to snap the CutArt to the correct spot on the opening here in the design program so its placement is not critical.  We will be able to snap the CutArt into its exact place in PathTrace.

Send the design to PathTrace.

In PathTrace: Positioning the CutArt

Use Copy Object to move the CutArt into place.

103 Snapped to Side

Move the cursor near the top of the CutArt and right-click when you select it in order to grab it by the point at the top.

Hold the Shift key and the original will disappear as you move the copy around.

Move the CutArt near the midpoint of the left side of the middle layer of the opening.

Right-click to snap the top point of the CutArt to the midpoint of the side of the middle layer.

Now that the CutArt is snapped to the side of the middle layer, we need to move it up or down to a place where we think it looks best.104 Positioned

Still using Copy Object, hold the Control key so that the CutArt will move perfectly vertically.  Hold the Shift key, too, so that only the copy remains.

Move the CutArt to its final vertical position.  In this example, it is just a little below the center.

Deleting the Sides of the Opening

The CutArt will replace the sides of the middle layer.  First we need to delete the existing sides of the middle layer.

105 Exploded and Deleted

Explode the middle layer of opening.

Delete the sides of the exploded opening.

Extending the Endpoints

This is not a critical step, but the segments of the opening will join better if the endpoints of the CutArt are extended to be closer to the corners.

106 Extended

Hold the Control key on the keyboard so that the sides of the CutArt remain perfectly vertical.

Use Move Point and move the endpoints of the CutArt closer to the corners.

In this illustration both endpoints have been moved.

Mirroring

Next, mirror the CutArt onto the other side of the opening.

107 Center Line

Mirroring works by using a reference line as a mirror axis, so we need to draw a vertical center line.

Move the cursor near the midpoint of the top of the opening.  Right-click to snap the beginning of the line to the midpoint.

Hold the Control key to keep the line vertical and end the line anywhere.

Mirror the CutArt on the left across the vertical center line onto the right side of the opening.

108 Mirrored

Mirroring is a two step function, but it is very simple.  First select the item to be mirrored, then select the line that is the mirror axis.  The mirrored copy will appear on the other side of the opening.

Finishing

Join the four new sides of the middle layer.

109 Joined

Set the new shape to cut as a normal bevel.

110 Set to Cut

Make sure that you set the new shape to cut as the middle layer of this opening.  At the bottom left, note that the Current Layer is set to Layer 2.

The mat is ready to cut.

As usual, these steps use the Wizard software.  Your program’s functions may have different names, but the process will be the same no matter which program you use.

202 Ending Photo

It appears as if there are many steps to this process of integrating these decorative breaks into the sides of the mat.  Explanations often mask reality, though.  Once you understand the process, you will find that all the steps are quite simple and the procedure will take only a minute.

The fact remains that this idea of mat decoration is outside of the kinds of things computerized mat cutter programs do normally - so of course we are required to do things manually.  New ideas will always require a little extra effort, but the results will be something special.

Brian Wolf has been a picture framing educator since 1979, specializing in decorative matting techniques. He is the artistry ambassador for Wizard International, Inc. Contact him at WizardU@wizardint.com  Brian’s column is sponsored by Wizard.  www.wizardint.com or call 1-888-855-3335

Caption Tweaks – Practical Mat Decoration

Sometimes our mental image of a decorated mat includes frills and swirls and patterns on every square inch.  However impressive this may seem, a better idea is to add just a small touch.  This column will focus on decorative ideas you might use every day.  We all have skills and we should use them regularly – to keep our work interesting and to keep our customers thrilled.

Sometimes our mental image of a decorated mat includes frills and swirls and patterns on every square inch. However impressive this may seem, a better idea is to add just a small touch. This column will focus on decorative ideas you might use every day. We all have skills and we should use them regularly – to keep our work interesting and to keep our customers thrilled.

 

Caption Tweaks

Framers have always had many opportunities to add captions to pictures.  Customers always appreciate when the people in photographs are identified and there is a long tradition of labeling artwork.  Though writing a caption and centering it under the opening is pretty straightforward using the computerized mat cutter programs, we can take a few extra steps and refine the caption and make it a real attraction.

 

Size

We see captions all day long under pictures of all descriptions.  We do not often stop to measure exactly how small the type actually is.  In mat design, we think a half inch is pretty small, but for a caption under a picture, that is jumbo sized.  Begin by thinking of captions a quarter inch high.  This will help you in a couple ways.  First, it will help the picture remain the focus of the presentation.  Next, it will preserve the vertical space we have – the mat width along the bottom.  If we include a large caption along the bottom, it will create the illusion that the bottom is more narrow.

Also, making the caption less tall will allow us to make longer captions.  With this extra length we can write more correct captions.  When we have used the computerized mat cutter to cut letters as openings, we are abbreviated words and excluded symbols to preserve horizontal space.  When the caption is a date, for example, with smaller letters, we can write out the name of the month, write all four digits of the year, and include punctuation - and the caption will still be a manageable length.

 

Pen Width

Hand in hand with the height of the letters goes the pen width.  When the pen is more narrow, the letters can be smaller.  Experiment with 0.5mm and 0.3mm pens.  With a 0.3mm pen, the x-height of some fonts can be as small as an eighth inch.  Mechanical pencils also draw very nicely in computerized mat cutters.  There are 0.5mm leads available in various hardness grades.  They can easily draw letters less than a quarter inch high.  Plus, the silvery look of the graphite is a softer alternative to the stark black we normally use for captions.

 

Spacing

Few of us are type experts, but we all can see when the spacing between letters is incorrect.  Some typefaces are worse than others, but just about every caption can be made to look more polished by moving a few letters.

These spacing anomalies occur because mat cutter programs use “bounding rectangles” to calculate the space between objects.  This is best because we cut rectangles almost every time we use the machine.  Text programs use “kerning pairs” to accommodate adjacent slanting letters, rounded letters, and letters with horizontal protrusions.

Publication1

Type the word Avalon into the Text field.  You will see that the alon portion looks pretty good, but the Ava portion cold use some refinement.  The slanting strokes of the A and the v, and the roundness of the a create some wide separations between the letters.  Correcting the spacing is easy.

No matter which program you use, begin by separating the letters.  In the Wizard program, click the Advanced tab.  Under Other Options at the left, there is an Explode Font button.  Before you click it, the entire word is one item.  After you click it, each letter will be a separate item and can then be manipulated independently.

Publication2

Select one letter and use the arrow keys on the keyboard so that you are certain to move the letter only right or left.  You can select several letters and move them as a group, too.  Hold the Shift key or the Control key and select all the letters you want.  Most importantly, remember that if you hold the Alt key on the keyboard, items move 0.01 inch per click as you use the arrow keys.  This is much more precise that the usual sixteenth inch.  It will take about 20 clicks to correct the spacing of this word.

Never worry about how precisely you refine the spacing.  First, any improvements you make will make the caption looks better than the original.  Next, no matter how great the caption looks on the design screen, it is important to see how it looks when the machine draws it with the pen you have chosen.  Design a test cut using the newly spaced caption without an opening.  This way you are able to evaluate every aspect of the caption – how nice the pen line itself looks, the caption’s size relative to the picture, and the spacing of the letters.

 

Typography

In printed work, there are a dozen tricks that add sparkle to a caption.  We do not have such programs, nor do we have such a luxury of time, but there are a few things we can do quite easily to add interest to a caption.

 

A Script Caption

Publication3

The first example is obvious.  Make the capital letters overly large.  This is a script font and large flourishing capital letters are almost expected, but the extra size allows the flourishing stroke at the bottom of the L to tuck more comfortably under a.  The extra height allows the details at the tops of the letters to tower above the lower case letters, and the strokes below the baseline can be well below the lower case letters.  Here, the y’s are a little oversized, too, so that their tails can curl under the previous letters more nicely.

 

A Few Hints on the Procedure

Though every decorative caption’s construction will be different, there are a few clues here that may prove to be helpful.  This caption began as two separate LetterMat openings: a capital L and ady.  Set the size and spacing of the lower case letters then make the L large enough so that it nestles nicely with the a.  Adjust the vertical position of the L as you change its size, too.

Copy and Paste the two items then change their text to be F and lorence.  Copy and Paste adds a touch of efficiency because the font and the sizes of the new items will be identical to the originals.  This is easier than adding a new LetterMat opening, then changing the sizes, the font, and the text.  Here, all you need to change is the text.  Adjust the spacing so that the Lady Florence portion of the caption is in order.

Paste the two items again and change the text to be G and ray.  Use the arrow keys and the alignment tools to arrange all six parts of the caption to your liking.  In this example, all the lower case letters are on the same baseline.  The capital letters are positioned at slightly different heights, and they are slightly different sizes, too.

It will be obvious to you at this point that the spacing of the y’s need adjustment.  Explode the font as we explained in the Spacing section.  Then make the necessary spacing adjustments.  Now, as long as the y’s are separate, why not take the opportunity to make them a little more dramatic, too.  Both y’s are a little taller – so that their tails are longer - and they are slightly wider.

 

A Flat Top Caption

The second typography idea could be thought of as little dated - it has an early 20th century architectural look - but it has some practical application to some of the problems of picture framing.  It is a caption in all capital letters.  The letters at the ends are slightly larger and the tops of all the letters are all in a line.

Publication4

Most often, we are aligning captions at the bottoms of rectangular pictures.  Very often, we want to place the caption as close to the opening as we can without the layout seeming crowded.  The flat top of a caption like this allows the caption to be as close as it can be to the opening.  The larger letters at the ends give the caption some flair beyond the Spartan feeling of writing in all caps.

As you might imagine, the procedure here is to adjust the Kerning (the size of the spaces between letters) and Tracking (the size of the spaces between words) first.  Then explode the caption, in order to change the size of the letters at the ends.  The classic formula is to have only the letters at the ends larger.  On this longer caption, notice that the V and the final O are also slightly larger – though not quite as large as the A and the L at the ends - to give the caption the look of a rounded baseline.

 

True Type Fonts

Keep your eyes open for other typographical devices that you might use to enhance captions.  You will see clever type everywhere.  Keep your eyes open, too, for interesting fonts.

Computerized mat cutter programs make use of true type fonts for some, if not most, lettering.  These fonts are easy to find and easy to add to your computer.  Some of them are wonderfully decorative and the font itself will be a typographical device without any manipulation.  There is no cutting with a blade, so the only limit to how small a caption can be lies with the pen you choose.

There is one warning here.  O’s and the dots of i’s are generally circles.  Computerized mat cutters cut circles (actually, any shape composed of curves without any angular corners to use as a starting point) with a preprogrammed overrun beyond the initial point of the cut.  You will not notice this as you watch a normal oval being cut, but when you watch the computerized mat cutter draw the dot of an i with the pen, it may go round and round six times before it stops.  This is not a fatal flaw, but it does not always look as nice as it could.

 

The Correction

It is not always necessary to fix this, but when you feel it is best to fix it, the procedure is straightforward.  Send the caption to the drawing program.  In this example in the Wizard program, this is PathTrace.  Here is a thumbnail sketch of the procedure:

Publication5

Draw a line through each circle (or curved shape) in question.

Use the Offset Object function under the Prep Design tab and offset the line 0.005 inch. In the illustration you see the pairs of gray vertical lines.

Break the intersections that the lines have with the circles.

Join the segments of the circle, leaving out the 0.005 inch break.

Set the broken circle to draw with the pen.  The circle will now draw only one time around.

In this illustration, the dot of the i and the inside circuit of the o have been set to draw with the pen.  The outside of the o has been broken and joined, but still needs to be set to draw with the pen.  The vertical lines that were drawn to break the circles are still in the drawing.

Once the breaks are made and the bevels are set, save the altered caption and add it to the design.

Publication6

This is a good example of a decorative font that works great for captions.  It is sometimes called Calamity Jane.  This particular word required no manual spacing beyond changing the Kerning setting.  All the upper case letters in this font are intentionally oversized and have some very attractive ornaments.

 

Debossing and…

Though these comments were written with computerized pen drawing in mind, all the ideas apply to debossed captions, too.  The spacing anomalies will not appear as severe because debossed letters are not as small as pen letters, but spacing improvements always add to the professional appearance of any captions.

And let us not forget that before there were computerized mat cutters, talented patient people wrote captions under pictures using calligraphy.  One incarnation of this was an adaptation of engineering lettering.  Tiny letters (eighth inch high) were drawn using a hard pencil – 4H or 6H lead, for example.  The idea behind the hard lead was for the pencil to deboss the mat in addition to writing the caption.  The letters were often even smaller and the captions could be quietly ornamented, too.  Surely this is not a lost art, and it comes to mind that these – and other - typographical devices could be put to use in this hand work, too.

Brian Wolf has been a picture framing educator since 1979, specializing in decorative matting techniques. He is the artistry ambassador for Wizard International, Inc. Contact him at WizardU@wizardint.com  Brian’s column is sponsored by Wizard.  www.wizardint.com or call 1-888-855-3335

Step Up Your Game

As a sales rep and a true custom framer at heart, I enjoy seeing the creative designs and problem solving exhibited by you. I wanted to post a "brag column" allowing framers to show off proud accomplishments. A focus of this guild is education, and through the photos posted monthly in this feature, I wish to get our creative juices flowing and hopefully teach an old dog a new trick or even a new pup and old trick every now and then. I promise to always have a camera with me, plus invite you to email your own photos to me at JenniferJPatterson1@yahoo.com

As a sales rep and a true custom framer at heart, I enjoy seeing the creative designs and problem solving exhibited by you. I wanted to post a "brag column" allowing framers to show off proud accomplishments. A focus of this guild is education, and through the photos posted monthly in this feature, I wish to get our creative juices flowing and hopefully teach an old dog a new trick or even a new pup and old trick every now and then. I promise to always have a camera with me, plus invite you to email your own photos to me at JenniferJPatterson1@yahoo.com

 

This creative and fun design by Anna Johnson of Tacoma Framemakers, demonstrates both a practical and a whimsical technique.

photo 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the practical, the glass has been placed between the textured scoop liner moulding and the top block cap frame which creates a natural lift or shadow box effect. This is a very attractive, easy and effective trick to do when the art is lifted and floated. Using two mouldings can be an intimidating proposition to sell, but considering there is no matting here, the united inches are much lower.  All the money saved in keeping it smaller can go towards a flashier fantastic frame design.

photo 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The whimsical factor here is the hand painted "blood spatter" on the linen mat, which did a great job in soaking up the red paint. A thinner paint wash was applied first then more concentrated dripping created this look.

The Zero Setting – Practical Mat Decoration

Sometimes our mental image of a decorated mat includes frills and swirls and patterns on every square inch.  However impressive this may seem, a better idea is to add just a small touch.  This column will focus on decorative ideas you might use every day.  We all have skills and we should use them regularly – to keep our work interesting and to keep our customers thrilled.

Sometimes our mental image of a decorated mat includes frills and swirls and patterns on every square inch. However impressive this may seem, a better idea is to add just a small touch. This column will focus on decorative ideas you might use every day. We all have skills and we should use them regularly – to keep our work interesting and to keep our customers thrilled.

 

 

The Zero Setting

Normally you read articles in this space dealing with some aspect of the computerized mat cutter.  There is no argument that they are more efficient and more widely used.  Add to that the fact that there are many features – for decoration and for efficiency - that have great potential, but need a little explanation or a reminder, and you see the sense for concentration on the computerized mat cutter.

However, most of us also do a few things regularly with the manual mat cutter.  After all, there is a certain pride in the craft that keeps old skills alive for just about everyone.  There was an occasion recently to cut a multiple opening mat with a manual mat cutter and it brought to mind one clever tip that always made life easier.

Well adjusted stops and a nicely aligned guide take the guesswork out of cutting.  They helped us cut a perfect double mat every time when the manual mat cutter was state-of-the-art technology.  We depend on stops now that we do not use the manual mat cutter every day.  We depend on them even more when we are cutting more difficult things – multiple opening mats, for example – even though their use may be tedious.  The settings of the guide and each stop will probably be different for every cut.  Most of us feel this tediousness is a small price to pay for the assurance stops give us.  The old adage is: If you don’t take the time to do it right, you’ll need to make the time to do it over.

Mat 1

Still, with multiple opening mats, there are always cuts that are out of reach for the stops - settings beyond the 7 or 8 inch maximum for most machines – where you will need to estimate the endpoints.  Most often these will be the cuts that form the separation between two openings.  The arrows on the illustration of the finished mat indicate these cuts.  The trick that follows will cut the guesswork in half.

The Typical Scenario

We always measure and draw pencil lines on the back of the mat for these cuts.  We cut along these lines, but equally important, we use them as the stopping and starting points for adjacent cuts.  In the photograph of the mat in the machine, the two pencil lines on the back of the mat are the lines indicated by the arrows in the illustration of the finished mat.

photo 2

In the photograph, the mat is in the machine ready to make the cuts for the bottoms (or the tops) of the two openings.  The side of the mat is against the guide as normal.  There will be two cuts with the mat in this position.

To begin the first cut, set the front stop as normal and begin cutting.  The stopping point of this first cut is the first pencil line – the upper line in the photograph.  It is out of the range of the back stop, so we must rely on our experience to gauge the exact stopping point.  However, to make the second cut, we will be able use the stops to determine both the correct starting point and the correct ending point - even though the starting point is beyond the range of the front stop’s settings.

Using the Zero Setting

Set the front stop to zero.

Move the foot of the stop – the part of the stop that normally is set to the edge of the matboard – so that it is exactly on the line.

As you hold the foot of the stop in place, tighten the stop into place on the bar of the machine.

The photograph shows the details of these three steps on the Fletcher mat cutter.  Your particular machine will likely be a bit different, but every machine is capable of this.

Photo 3

Making the Cut

Move the cutting head into place against the front stop and begin the cut as normal.  With a simple two opening mat, you will certainly be able to set the back stop as normal.

This works pretty well with most machines, but it is clear that the manufacturers did not intend this.  There is almost always a little clashing of parts - sometimes as the head moves into place, sometimes as you are plunging the blade, sometimes as you are cutting the first inch.  Live with it.  The assurance of stops is worth the trouble.

Another Hint

We mentioned drawing pencil lines a few times.  Drawing and using these lines are the most common stumbling blocks for cutting multiple opening mats with manual machines.  These lines need to be drawn with care.  You will use these lines to position the mat in the machine (when you are unable to use the guide) to make these middle cuts.  So use a precise ruler, a sharp pencil, and a careful eye as you make marks, line up the ruler, and draw.  Draw razor thin lines so that there is never a question of exactly where the blade should cut.  Draw the lines all the way across the mat.

When you are positioning the mat in the machine (without the aid of the guide) to cut along these pencil lines, test with the point of the blade - at both ends of the cut - to make sure the cut will be precisely on the line.

Now…With or without the zero setting idea, with or without the zeal to keep traditional skills sharp, is it any wonder that computerized mat cutters have become so crucial to efficiency?

Brian Wolf has been a picture framing educator since 1979, specializing in decorative matting techniques. He is the artistry ambassador for Wizard International, Inc. Contact him at WizardU@wizardint.com  Brian’s column is sponsored by Wizard.  www.wizardint.com or call 1-888-855-3335

Adorning Cuts – Practical Mat Decoration

Sometimes our mental image of a decorated mat includes frills and swirls and patterns on every square inch.  However impressive this may seem, a better idea is to add just a small touch.  This column will focus on decorative ideas you might use every day.  We all have skills and we should use them regularly – to keep our work interesting and to keep our customers thrilled.

Sometimes our mental image of a decorated mat includes frills and swirls and patterns on every square inch. However impressive this may seem, a better idea is to add just a small touch. This column will focus on decorative ideas you might use every day. We all have skills and we should use them regularly – to keep our work interesting and to keep our customers thrilled.

 

 

Adorning Cutouts

Decorative cutting.  Perhaps the first thing that comes to mind is the thousand silhouette cutouts that are in every computerized mat cutter program.  There are sports symbols, animal outlines, and geometric shapes, to name only a few.  We add them to reinforce the significance of the picture we are presenting.  These silhouettes cut as an opening and a contrasting color shows through the cutout.  Often we look over the finished mat and think that this idea falls a bit flat.  Aside from questions about ornaments overshadowing a serious piece of art, a big part of our uncertainty is that the cutout does not nestle naturally with the opening for the picture.

One idea for helping the silhouette relate to the other openings is to frame it with an opening of its own.  A rectangle will be cut on the top layer (or layers) and the silhouette will be cut in the bottom layer.

This idea is nothing new.  It has been presented in many other places.  Here we will concentrate less on the design and more on the process of making sure that each item cuts on the proper layer of the mat.  As usual in this column, the steps will be detailed using the Wizard software, but every computerized mat cutter program will have an equivalent process for making these kinds of changes to the cutting instructions.

 

Beginning in the Design Screen101 In MD

Here are three stars framed by a rectangle.  The final ornament in its opening is small enough – 2 x 4.25 inches - to be added with just about any size picture.  In this array, the stars are 2 inches, 1.25 inches, and 1 inch across.  The CMC is capable of cutting very small geometric shapes such as stars.  Experiment to see how smaller items cut – if delicacy is a concern.

An obvious beginning for a project like this would be to use one of the thousand silhouette cutouts in the program.  Any one of them could be enhanced this way, too, but it is important to show that you are not limited to just the prefabricated designs – nor are you limited to just one shape inside the rectangle.  These stars are designed using the template shapes.  There are also circles, hearts, and diamonds in the template library.

It looks promising in the design screen.  There is a double mat opening framing the stars.  The left point of the big star will be cropped under the opening.  That is an intention of the design.  Then when the three layers are cut and assembled, it will come out just as we intended.  Right?

 

The Need for Cutting Changes102 In Cut Screen.TIF

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It looks promising in the design screen, yes, but the cutting preview screen shows us a problem.  Look at the items in red in the illustration.  The stars and the outer layer of the rectangle will all cut on the top layer.

Let us quickly clarify exactly how we want this to be cut.  There will be three layers to this ornament.  The top layer of the rectangular opening will cut on the top layer.  The inner reveal of the rectangular opening will cut on the middle layer.  The stars will cut on the bottom layer.

We need to give the shapes new cutting instructions so that they all cut on the correct layers.  In some programs, you will open the design in a drawing program, but in the Wizard program, you will send the design to PathTrace.

 

New Cutting Instructions

Before we begin making changes, let’s review a few points about PathTrace.  Look at the tabs across the top.  Under each tab, there is a list on the left and you can select the exact operation you need.  The Prep Design tab and the Trace and Draw tab have the operations you need to make changes to the shapes of the objects.  The Set Bevel tab and the Order Cuts tab have the functions you need to change the cutting instructions.

Along the right side there are several functions you will use no matter which tab you are under.  Zoom functions are at the top and the Undo button is the fourth button under Tools.  Hover over each button and a tool tip will appear in a few seconds to remind you of its function.

Here, the Set Bevels tab is selected.  On the left under Bevel Type, Normal Bevel is chosen.  We will use only Normal Bevel for this entire project.201 Start in PT

At the bottom, under Current Layer, Layer 1 is specified.  In PathTrace, Layer 1 is always the bottom layer.

When a particular layer is specified, the items set to cut on that layer will be displayed in dark colors.  All the items set to cut on other layers will be displayed in faint colors.  The inner reveal of the rectangle is now the only item set to cut on this layer.  (If an item has no cutting instructions, it will be displayed as gray or black.)

As you move the cursor around the design, you will see a blue arrow point move from spot to spot.  In this illustration, the blue arrow point is at the corner of the bottom star.

 

Setting the Bevels for Layer 1202 Layer 1 Set

To set the stars to cut on Layer 1 (the bottom layer), move the cursor so that the blue arrow point is at a point on one star.  The point you choose will be the starting point of the cut for this star.  This design is not so intricate that we need to worry about which corner we choose for a star, nor do we need to worry about which star cuts first, second, or third.

Click one time.  You will see that star change from faint blue to dark blue indicating that this star will now cut as a normal bevel on Layer 1.

Move the cursor and click points on the other stars, too.  In this illustration all three stars have been set to cut on Layer 1.

Note that the inner rectangle is still set to cut on Layer 1.  Do not be concerned by this.  We will change this in the next step.

 

Layer 2203 Start Layer 2

Change the Current Layer at the lower left to 2.  This is what you will see.  Every shape will turn faint blue except the outer rectangle.

Move the cursor so that the blue arrow point is a corner of the inner rectangle.  Traditionally, we choose the lower left corner to begin the cut of a rectangle.  This is because of the placement of the clamps that hold the matboard in place in the machine, but that is not critical with something as small as this.204 Layer 2 Set

Click one time.  The inner rectangle will change from faint blue to dark blue indicating that this rectangle will now cut as a normal bevel on Layer 2.

Once again, note that the outer rectangle is also set to cut on Layer 2.  We will change this in the next step.

 

Layer 3

Change the Current Layer to 3.  This is what you will see.  Every shape will now turn faint blue.  Here we will be creating an entirely new Layer 3.205 Start Layer 3

Move the cursor so that the blue arrow point is a corner of the outer rectangle.

Click one time.  The outer rectangle will change from faint blue to dark blue indicating that this rectangle will now cut as a normal bevel on Layer 3.206 Layer 3 Set

Save the design.  In almost every program, you will save these new items in the format of the special cutouts you add to a layout.  In the Wizard program, you will save it as a CutArt.  You will add it to any layout as you would add any other CutArt to a layout.

 

This is the most elementary way you might include an ornament like this in a design.  Here it is centered between two 5 x 7 inch openings. 302 In Grouping

As an exercise in your design program, rough out a design like this without the rectangle around the stars.  There will be enough blank space between the two rectangular openings to make you scratch your head and reconsider the effectiveness of the stars.  The frame around the stars helps make sense of the separation.  As a bonus, there is more color.  Plus the layers provide physical depth and the cutout is more dramatic.

Brian Wolf has been a picture framing educator since 1979, specializing in decorative matting techniques. He is the artistry ambassador for Wizard International, Inc. Contact hime at WizardU@wizardint.com  Brian's column is sponsored by Wizard.  www.wizardint.com or call 1-888-855-3335

Oval Top Mat- Practical Mat Decoration

Sometimes our mental image of a decorated mat includes frills and swirls and patterns on every square inch.  However impressive this may seem, a better idea is to add just a small touch.  This column will focus on decorative ideas you might use every day.  We all have skills and we should use them regularly – to keep our work interesting and to keep our customers thrilled.

Sometimes our mental image of a decorated mat includes frills and swirls and patterns on every square inch. However impressive this may seem, a better idea is to add just a small touch. This column will focus on decorative ideas you might use every day. We all have skills and we should use them regularly – to keep our work interesting and to keep our customers thrilled.

 The Oval Top Mat

This is not an opening shape that will transform every design in you shop.  You will likely use it from time to time, but its real importance is as an illustration of how surprises become useful.106 Oval Top Final

Start with the idea of a round top opening.  There are a couple of ready-made ideas in every computerized mat cutter template library.  One template has a curve along the top, but the top corners are angles.  The shape with a semicircular top is intriguing because the top and sides blend as one continuous cut, but it would crop so much less of the image if the top was flat like a half oval.  Sad to say, there is no parameter to alter the shape of the top.  One possibility to make this shape is to join an oval to the top of a rectangle, but it requires the drawing program if you want to make a double mat.  So the idea languishes.

The Surprise

Every CMC program has a template that allows you to change the shape of each corner separately.  In the Wizard program it is called the Quad template.  Change the top two corners to ovals and leave the bottom two corners rectangular.  Now make its height smaller and you will see the shape of the oval at the top become more flat while the vertical lines of all the layers of the sides blend smoothly into the oval top – the exact effect we are looking for.  The height of the opening is now too small, but that is easily enough corrected by joining it with an additional rectangle.  The best news is that we will not need the drawing program for any of these changes.

Step By Step

Begin with a rectangular opening.  Make it the correct final size, adjust the borders, and specify the number of layers you need for the design.  This example is three layers just to illustrate how nicely this idea works no matter the number of layers.101 Initial Design

The hints here will be specific to the Wizard program, but every CMC program will have similar tools and features along the way – both to aid the process and to beware of as we make alterations.  As an example of something to beware of, make sure Dynamic Outsides is inactive as you continue.  Dynamic Outsides is a tool that adjusts the outside size as the opening size changes.  Throughout this project, we want the outside size to remain constant.

Reduce the height of the opening.  The best way to do this is to drag the handle at the bottom center of the opening up.  This way, the top and the sides remain in their proper positions with respect to the borders.  Stop when you are pleased with the shape of the oval at the top. 102 Oval Shaped Top

If You Must Measure

So often, the oval portion of the opening will need to be a specific height.  Measure the picture to see exactly where the oval must stop.  Make the height twice this measurement.  (The top half of the shape will be oval – the size you need it to be, and the bottom half of the opening will be rectangular.)  In this illustration, the total Height of the oval top shape is 4.25 inches.  That means that the height of the oval top is 2.125 inches.  After entering numbers into the Height field, make sure that the top is snapped to the top of the border lines.  Make sure that the sides are still snapped to the border lines, too.

Making the Opening Size Correct

The oval top may look nice, but the overall opening is no longer the correct size.  We will join an additional rectangular opening to the shortened oval top opening and the final size will be correct once more.103 Copied Opening

There are a few ways to add another opening, but the easiest way is to Copy and Paste the existing opening.  The shape and height will not be correct, but the width and the sizes of the reveals of each of the layers will be correct. 104 Second Opening in Place

Change the shape of this duplicate opening to a rectangle.  Snap its bottom to the bottom border line.  Snap its sides to the side border lines.  Change the height of this rectangle so that its top overlaps the bottom of the oval top opening.  Make sure that the openings overlap sufficiently to include all the layers.  But make sure that none of the rectangular opening overlaps onto the oval portion of the oval top opening.

Joining the Two Openings

Every CMC program has its own way to join overlapping openings.  In MatDesigner, select both openings.  Click the Advanced tab at the top and click the Group Selection button at the left.  You will see the perimeter of the joined oval top ready to cut. 105 Grouped

Troubleshooting

It is possible that there would be some anomalies with the joined shape.  There might be some wiggles at the sides because the two openings were not precisely snapped into place or they were not the exact same width.  There might be a stripe across the middle because the bottom rectangular opening did not overlap far enough onto the oval top opening.  To correct any of these troubles, look under the Advanced tab again.  The Group Selection button has become the Ungroup Selection button.  Click it to take the openings apart and you will be able to rectify the troubles.

After you have used this procedure a few times, you will see places where you will want to do certain things another way.  For example, you may not see any advantage to copy and paste to duplicate the opening and you will use another way to add the rectangular opening.  You may like the idea of guides as alignment tools better than the borders.  You may be comfortable enough with the drawing program to make all these alterations.  Some feel that the drawing program is accurate and direct, while the procedure in the design program seems like a prescribed formula.  No matter your assessment of each individual step, we all have ideas for shapes we would like to use.  Now we know that if we do not see them in the template library, there is bound to be another way.

Brian Wolf has been a picture framing educator since 1979, specializing in decorative matting techniques. He is the artistry ambassador for Wizard International, Inc. Contact him at WizardU@wizardint.com.

Brian’s column is sponsored by Wizard. www.wizardint.com or call 1-888-855-3335.

Drop Shadows-Practical Mat Decoration

One More Thing - final

Sometimes our mental image of a decorated mat includes frills and swirls and patterns on every square inch. However impressive this may seem, a better idea is to add just a small touch. This column will focus on decorative ideas for matting you might use every day. We all have skills and we should use them regularly – to keep our work interesting and to keep our customers thrilled.

Drop Shadows

Mats made with letters.  They come into fashion, then they go out of fashion.  Some folks love them, others hate them.  But there is something we can all agree on.  These openings for snapshots that look like letters need some help to look their best.  We imagine ways to dress them up because otherwise, they are just shapes lined up in a row.  One dramatic typography device is the drop shadow.

Lettermat

 

We can do this with any computerized mat cutter program.  We will make two layer letters – which, itself, is one of the ways we imagine for dressing up the letters.  The letters on the bottom layer will be shaped as normal.  The letters for the top layer will expose the letters on the bottom layer, plus there will be an offset copy of the letters merged to create a shadow along the bottom and at the left.

The Initial Design

Design the caption.  The letters here are 2¾ inches wide 4 inches high.  Space the letters a little farther apart than normal – probably 5/8 inch. Remember that we will be adding elements between the letters.

MD 001

 

To make the caption more interesting, the first letter here is larger than the others.  In this example, the E is 3 inches wide and 5½ inches high.  This is a nice typographical touch we can use when the customer’s pictures allow it.

Snap a guide to the left side of the caption and to the top.  These are the red lines in the illustration.  They are snap points we will need later.

Copy the caption and paste it into the design.  The first illustration shows both copies of the caption.

Making the Top Layer

Snap the new copy of the caption exactly on top of the original caption using the red guides.

MD 002

 

Move one copy about a quarter inch to the left and a quarter inch down.  With most programs, you can use the arrow keys on the keyboard.  In the Wizard program, each click moves an item a sixteenth of an inch.  In this example, the copy was moved 4 clicks to the left and 5 clicks down.  You will decide the size and direction of the shadows for every specific design.

The design might look pretty good to you right now, but looks do not tell the entire story.

MD 003

 

Merge the two copies.  It will look strange, but have faith.  This will be the top layer of the letters.

Making the Bottom Layer

Paste again, and another copy of the caption will appear.  Snap this new copy into place so that its left is against the vertical guide, and its top is against the horizontal guide.  This will be the bottom layer of the letters.

MD 004

 

The design would be finished, but right now, everything will cut on one layer.

Setting the Bevels Correctly

Send the design to the drawing program.  In Wizard, it is PathTrace.  Set the bevels so that the ordinary letters cut on the bottom layer, and the merged letters cut on the top layer.

PT 001

In this illustration, the dark blue lines are the circuits set to cut on the top layer.  The faint blue lines are the circuits set to cut on the bottom layer.

A Small Alteration

Before we cut this particular caption, it is instructive to examine it more closely.  Be aware that there will always be a few corrections whenever we make artistic changes to letters.

PT 002

At the bottom of the R, the diagonal stroke and its shadow create a thin tendril of matboard that will certainly not survive the cutting process.

The drawing tools necessary to remove it are pretty simple.  First explode the offending circuit.  Exploding separates a closed circuit into its various pieces.  The gray lines represent the exploded circuit.

PT 003

Join the segments across the bottom of the R, leaving out the diagonal line that created the impossibly thin area.

The white lines show the corrected section at the bottom of the R.  You can still see the gray lines that were left out.

Join the remainder of the segments, set the bevel, and cut the design.

There is an immutable tradition in picture framing of concentric parallel borders of accent colors around openings.  But why not consider drop shadows accenting openings, too?

Openings

Brian Wolf has been a picture framing educator since 1979, specializing in decorative matting techniques. He is the artistry ambassador for Wizard International, Inc. Contact him at WizardU@wizardint.com.

Brian’s column is sponsored by Wizard. www.wizardint.com or call 1-888-855-3335.