Â The Oval Top Mat
Start with the idea of a round top opening.Â There are a couple of ready-made ideas in every computerized mat cutter template library.Â One template has a curve along the top, but the top corners are angles.Â 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.Â Sad to say, there is no parameter to alter the shape of the top.Â 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.Â So the idea languishes.
Every CMC program has a template that allows you to change the shape of each corner separately.Â In the Wizard program it is called the Quad template.Â Change the top two corners to ovals and leave the bottom two corners rectangular.Â 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 â€“ the exact effect we are looking for.Â The height of the opening is now too small, but that is easily enough corrected by joining it with an additional rectangle.Â 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.Â Make it the correct final size, adjust the borders, and specify the number of layers you need for the design.Â This example is three layers just to illustrate how nicely this idea works no matter the number of layers.
The hints here will be specific to the Wizard program, but every CMC program will have similar tools and features along the way â€“ both to aid the process and to beware of as we make alterations.Â As an example of something to beware of, make sure Dynamic Outsides is inactive as you continue.Â Dynamic Outsides is a tool that adjusts the outside size as the opening size changes.Â Throughout this project, we want the outside size to remain constant.
Reduce the height of the opening.Â The best way to do this is to drag the handle at the bottom center of the opening up.Â This way, the top and the sides remain in their proper positions with respect to the borders.Â Stop when you are pleased with the shape of the oval at the top.Â
If You Must Measure
So often, the oval portion of the opening will need to be a specific height.Â Measure the picture to see exactly where the oval must stop.Â Make the height twice this measurement.Â (The top half of the shape will be oval â€“ the size you need it to be, and the bottom half of the opening will be rectangular.)Â In this illustration, the total Height of the oval top shape is 4.25 inches.Â That means that the height of the oval top is 2.125 inches.Â After entering numbers into the Height field, make sure that the top is snapped to the top of the border lines.Â 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.Â We will join an additional rectangular opening to the shortened oval top opening and the final size will be correct once more.
There are a few ways to add another opening, but the easiest way is to Copy and Paste the existing opening.Â 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.Â
Change the shape of this duplicate opening to a rectangle.Â Snap its bottom to the bottom border line.Â Snap its sides to the side border lines.Â Change the height of this rectangle so that its top overlaps the bottom of the oval top opening.Â Make sure that the openings overlap sufficiently to include all the layers.Â 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.Â In MatDesigner, select both openings.Â Click the Advanced tab at the top and click the Group Selection button at the left.Â You will see the perimeter of the joined oval top ready to cut.Â
It is possible that there would be some anomalies with the joined shape.Â 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.Â There might be a stripe across the middle because the bottom rectangular opening did not overlap far enough onto the oval top opening.Â To correct any of these troubles, look under the Advanced tab again.Â The Group Selection button has become the Ungroup Selection button.Â 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.Â 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.Â You may like the idea of guides as alignment tools better than the borders.Â You may be comfortable enough with the drawing program to make all these alterations.Â Some feel that the drawing program is accurate and direct, while the procedure in the design program seems like a prescribed formula.Â No matter your assessment of each individual step, we all have ideas for shapes we would like to use.Â 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 atÂ WizardU@wizardint.com.
Brianâ€™s column is sponsored by Wizard.Â www.wizardint.comÂ or call 1-888-855-3335.