Now let me ask you – how many people come into your shop and say “I need you to reproduce my logo and to make it easy here is some good quality black and white artwork”. Not often. What do we get?
- Low quality gif and jpeg files (images from the internet)
- “Faxed” artwork – the ones with the “jaggies”
- Business cards
- Full colour images
The list goes on. So what can we do? Typically what I see is that dealers scan the bad image into the computer, vectorize the artwork and then sometimes spend hours “cleaning” up the logo. This may be a suitable way of doing artwork for some but not me. I would rather spend my time doing something else. So let me offer you an alternative that will give you a good clean vector image and hopefully do it in a lot less time.
To do this article we will need a logo. I happened to be on The Microsoft Network and saw a logo that would be perfect. It is the common red ribbon.
So here is our order. A local organization wants a couple of plaques done quickly for a corporate recognition program. They want their logo (the red ribbon) on each plaque. The problem is that the only artwork that they have is a jpeg file from a web site. With this logo it would be useless to scan and vectorize it because not only is it in colour but also the logo is of low quality. So what do we do? The answer is to scan the image and digitize around it. Sound hard. Not really once you get used to it is actually easy. This article will show you how we accomplish this technique. We are working in Corel 10 for this article. However all versions since Corel 4 support what we will show you today.
Import in Your Image
The first step is to open CorelDraw. We will then import our sample image into the program. Looks a little bad. Do not worry all we need is a good approximation of the image.
Select the Object Manager
Now that the logo is on the screen we will need to go and open the “object manager”. This is found under the “Tools” menu. See Figure 2. * For Corel 8 this is in the “Layout” pull down section.
The Object Manager Will Dock
Your screen should look like Figure 3. The object manager will “dock” with the drawing window on the right side of the screen.
Create a New Layer
You will then need to left click with your mouse on the arrow at the top right side of the object manager window. See Figure 3 – blue box. Select the “New Layer” command. See Figure 4.
Rename the Layer
After you have clicked on “New Layer” a new layer will be added. Its default name is “layer 2”. If you want you can type in a new name. So lets do that and call it “vector”. See Figure 5. Once you have done this press the enter key.
Rename Layer 1
Next click with your mouse on “Layer 1” below “vector”. Once it is selected you can right click on the “Layer 1” and a pull down menu appears. Select “rename” and call it “logo”. See Figure 6.
There is one thing to point out at this time. If you look beside the two names “vector” and “logo” you will notice an “eye” icon, a “printer” icon, and a “pencil” icon. The purpose of these icons is as follows:
Hides or shows the layer
Disables or enables printing of that layer
“Locks” the layer so you cannot select anything in the layer.
* Note if the layer is gray you cannot do anything with the layer. If it is not grayed you can do what you want with the layer.
Lock Out the Layer with the Photo
Next you will need to click on the Pencil icon that is to the left of “logo” (the first layer) in the object manager. See figure 6. It will then become “grayed out”. This means that the layer that has the scanned image will be inactive and cannot be selected (this is important). Now if you try to click on the logo it cannot be selected. This is what we want. Now click on “vector” (the second layer) so that its text is red. It is now the “active layer”. See Figure 7.
The next step is to now start digitizing. When you are drawing the easiest thing to do is to zoom in on the logo using the zoom tool.. It is easier to digitize around the area when you are zoomed in. So lets zoom in on the top third of the logo. See Figure 8.
Select The Bezier Tool
The next step is to select the bezier tool by clicking on the icon. It is on the tool bar at the left just below the zoom tool. It is the tool that has the dashed line and the arrow. If the bezier tool icon is not on the tool bar go to the little black arrow beside the icon that is there (blue box) and hold the left mouse button down. A tool bar will expand out. Move the mouse till the bezier tool is selected and let go of the mouse. See figure 9.
Outline the IMage
The next step is to go to the logo and start drawing out the image. The best place to start is at the left part of the logo. Work yourself from left to right. See Figure 8. The one thing to remember is that you do not need to be exact. A lot of times I will draw the lines and then zoom in on the image and move the lines so they are at the exact spots that I need. One note: If you use the pan tool (select the hand tool in the zoom fly out menu) you can move the page as if you we sliding paper along the table. This is easier that using the magnifying glass when you are moving to new areas in the logo. To access it hold down your mouse on the magnifying glass in the left hand tool bar just above the bezier tool. A bar will expand out and you can select the tool.
Now you can continue drawing the lines until you have outlined the image. When you get to the last point which is you first point click inside the first point and the line will become a closed contour. See Figure 10. Please Note: I have used a thick yellow line to show the trace so that it is easily distinguishable from the logo.
Select the Node Edit or Shape Tool
Once the logo is done as per figure 10 you need to select the node edit tool from the tool bar on the left (just above the magnifying tool. You will then go over and click on the line image you have just created. See figure 11. The whole contour becomes selected. If you want you can click on the node (the little black squares). It will now become selected. If you want you can drag it (by holding the left mouse button down) around or delete it. Play around with it if you want. You can always click the undo button – it’s under the “edit” menu. Please Note: I have turned off the logo so you can see the contour and what I am doing with it. You may want to leave the logo in the background. To turn the logo off you click on the “eye” icon next to “logo” in the object manager.
Select All the Nodes
Next. While holding the left mouse button down click and you will draw a box so that it encapsulates the top two nodes (these are the two black squares at the beginning of each line that we created. A node signifies to the software a change in direction of a line and also a new line attribute. Once you have selected the box your logo will look like Figure 12. You will notice all the selected nodes are darker. This indicates that they are selected.
Select the Curve Icon
The question here is why have we only selected the top two nodes. Well if you look at the image in Figure 10 you will notice that the only line that is not right is the top line. The others are fine. The top line is a curve not a line. We need to turn the top line into curve.
The next thing you need to do is look at the tool bar that had “activated” above the drawing (it becomes activated when we selected the node tool). See Figure 13. This bar does a couple of things. It indicates what type of line you have. In the bar the straight-line tool is grayed out so these nodes are lines. This bar also allows you to select another line type or add nodes or delete nodes. You need to click on the curve icon outlined in red. The selected nodes in your drawing will now become curves. This is important, as we need to “shape” the line up to correspond with the curve in the logo.
Move the Line
Now if you click on the middle of the line (remember the node tool is still active) and hold the left mouse down you will be able to move the line back and forth. See Figure 14. This only works with curves. “Lines” can only be moved by clicking on the actual nodes and moving them. Please note: I have turned off the logo so you can see the line move. Usually you would keep the logo on the screen.
If you turned off the logo you can reactivate the logo by clicking on the eye icon on “logo” layer. You can now move the line so that it follows the shape of the logo. If it is hard to see the line against the logo then select the line and right click on the colours on the left hand side of the page. This will make the line a different colour.
If you would like to move a “line” then select the node you want to move and holding down the left mouse button drag the node where you want. See figure 15.
Our Object is Finished
Your object is now finished. See Figure 16.
Do The Inner part of the Logo
Repeat and do the inner part of the logo. See figure 17.
There your logo is complete. You may now send it out to your engraving software and fill it if you want. Please note: I have simplified the logo. Some of you may what to bring more detail out in the logo. For this lesson I tried to keep it simple.
For finer tuning of the logo and more on node editing you will need to read the Corel manual on node editing and line types. Many computer stores sell books on CorelDraw for around 40 to 60 dollars.
Although this was a drawn out example, when I did this logo myself it took under 5 minutes to complete. With some practice you to could achieve this.
Now in my estimation the above technique is one of the most important techniques you can learn. I do not care if you sublimate, laser engrave or mechanically engrave – this technique will help you. It will get you out of a lot of jams when it comes to reproducing artwork. Learn this technique now.