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Creating New Artwork From Scanned Images of Bad Artwork or Web Images

One of the reasons that many engravers have upgraded their engraving equipment in the past years is because of the need to be able to easily create logos for their customers. Whether it is for a company such as IBM or just a local soccer association, most customers now require that you reproduce their logo.
Why reproduce their logo:
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  1. It typically dresses up the product that you are producing for your customer.
  2. It fills in space (even a stock logo) on the item that you are engraving.
  3. Most importantly if you do their logo they will come back again to use the logo on other items that you can supply. Thus it is interchangeable on other product
  4. If you are sublimating a customer’s logo and you would like to replace the colour in the logo or you need to make the logo a lot bigger than the supplied artwork.
  5. We want the customer to feel proud of the product we are producing. If we put their logo on the product we are suppling than the perceived value goes up.

So now that we know why we should reproduce a logo and we have the proper equipment to do the job then than why is it still so hard to get a proper logo from the customer onto an engravable item? more
Easy – for three reasons:

  1. Typically the artwork we get from our customers is not very good. I don’t need to go into any more detail, as most of you know what I mean. You have all seen it – pencil sketches, faxed artwork with the dreaded “jaggies”. Do I need to say more?
  2. Even if we get good artwork we get a “double line” if we do a trace. We then have to fill the logo with a “fill” and this takes a lot longer to engrave. This is especially true if we are recreating our logo on a rotary engraver.
  3. Sometimes a scan and the resulting trace “looses” some information because it “just doesn’t look like the original”

Remember the best scanners will not make up for bad artwork. You can spend thousands of dollars on a good scanner and they cannot make bad artwork better. Your engraved logo is only as good as the original image/artwork is.
The purpose of this article is to show you how to take some bad artwork and create good artwork out of it.

Recreating Logos from bad artwork – Open Object Manager

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The first step is to open CorelDraw and import or scan your image into the program. Don’t worry if it looks bad – all you need is a good representation of your final product.
Now that the logo is on the screen you need to go and open the “object manager”. This is found under  TOOLS | OBJECT MANAGER – see figure 1.

Import Your Logo

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Your screen should look like figure 2. The object manager will “dock” with the drawing window on the right side of the screen. Layer 1 in figure 2 shows us that our logo is an RGB Bitmap.

Create a New Layer

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Now before we get into redrawing the logo we need to create a new layer. To create a new layer we need to left click on the arrow that is located at the top far right in the object manager – see figure 3.

Rename the Layer

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After you click on “New Layer” a new layer will be added. Its default name is “layer 2” – See Figure 4.

Rename the Layer New Logo

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You will notice that there is a gray box around the logo name. This means that we can rename the layer to something that is more descriptive. Figure 5 show us that I have called it New Logo.

Lock Out the Layer 1

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Before we proceed to redraw the logo there are a couple of things that we need to activate or deactivate. First of all we need to deactivate layer 1. This is the layer that the original artwork sits on. To deactivate the layer click on the “pencil” icon that is located to the left of the name “layer 1. You will see in Figure 6 that this layer is deactivated. What this means is that anything on layer 1 can not be selected. Note: you could right click on the original image and lock it if you want. Also we need to let CorelDraw know that we want to draw on the New Logo layer. To do this we need to click on the words “New Logo” so that it is red. The red indicates that anything drawn will be placed in this layer. If you have Layer 1 activated than CorelDraw will give you an error message because the layer is locked – it is locked because we locked it by clicking on the pencil which went light gray.

Go To WireFrame Mode

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Okay we now have the layer we want active. There is one thing more that I would like to do before I start redrawing the image. Go to VIEW | WIREFRAME. This will give you a light gray view of the original logo. This view is easier to redraw. Figure 7 shows you the image in wireframe mode.

Select The Bezier Tool

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The next step is to now start digitizing or drawing. The best way to start recreating a logo is to pick a part of the image and zoom in on that area. For example I would start on the two left and right bars. So zoom in on the bar on the left.
Next we need to select one of the pen tools to start redrawing. The pen tool that I like to use is the Bezier tool. This is the second icon in on the pen tool flyout which is located on the main toolbox – see Figure 8.

Draw Out a Basic Shape

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The next step is to go to the logo and start tracing out the image. This will take some time to get use to and will require some practice. The idea here is to take a shape in the image and trace around it. Do not try to do the whole image. Zoom in on an area and do it. Remember, the way you trace is the way the cutter will travel. Figure 9 shows that I have traced out the first part of the logo. Do not worry about the accuracy we will fix this up later. The numbers in figure 9 indicate the progression of the nodes that I created. There is a 1 and 10 together because these two nodes are placed on top of each other.

Select The Shape Tool

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The next thing that we need to do is to reshape what we have drawn so that it resembles the logo that we have scanned or imported in. First of all we need to activate the shape tool. This tool is located in the main tool bar – see figure 10. The shape tool allows us to manipulate the nodes that we have drawn.

Select All the Nodes of the Object with the Shape Tool

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Now I need to select all the nodes in the Object (shape) that I have drawn. To do this I hold the left mouse down and drag around all the nodes see figure 11.

Select the Curve Icon in The Property Bar

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You will notice now that all the nodes are bigger and have a wide black line. This means that they are all selected. Now with the nodes selected you will notice the property bar at the top of the screen has changed. It now lists out the tools that are available for the nodes. Figure 12 shows the tool bar.

Adjust The Curves to Follow The Shape

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For this example the only thing that I am going to worry about is changing the nodes from a line to a curve. We know the nodes are a line because when a node is selected its line type is displayed in the property bar and is gray. Because the line icon is gray than our node type is a line not a curve – see red box in figure 12. To manipulate these lines that I have drawn so that we can manipulate them so that they will follow the logo I need to convert them to a curve. To do this all you need to do is to click on the curve icon which is the icon to the right in the red box in figure 12 – or the one that is not gray (make sure the nodes are selected).
Now that each node is a curve we can shape the lines that we have drawn to follow the original logo that we brought in. We will move each line one at a time. Move your mouse close to a line and click on that line. While holding down the mouse move the line so that it more closely follows the original logo. Figure 13 shows the line being moved. I have eliminated the original logo so that you can see it. Remember you can zoom in closer if it is hard to see the lines and how they are to follow the original logo.

manipulate the Lines to Smooth Out the Shape

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Manipulate the lines until they are totally following the image. Figure 14 shows you the finished first section of the logo.

Our Completed Logo With Out Text

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One thing that you may notice is that there are guidelines in the image. I have used these so that the bottom and the top lines along with the left side edge are straight. Personally there is nothing more distracting than to see a straight line that is suppose to be straight and is not.
If you want to use the guidelines than pull out the guidelines so that they follow the line that you want to recreate. Next go to VIEW | SNAP TO GUIDELINES. When you move the line it will snap to the guideline. Because we know that the guideline is straight than we know the line will be straight.
Now redraw the rest of the logo. It is good practice to put each piece of the logo on its own layer if you want. Figure 15 shows the completed logo.

Matching up the text

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If we review the whole logo you will notice that there is some text that is located on the right side – see Figure 16.
We have two choices here. We can either trace out each one of the letters by redrawing them. This will take a long time. The other way is to try to find out the font and retype the text. Most people, including myself would rather take the easy way out which is to find the font and retype the text. Once we have the font style all we need to do is to type the text and than manipulate it.
Retyping the text is fine as long as you can find the font that was used in the logo. The problem in today’s computer world is that there is a myriad of fonts on the market. The other problem is that some fonts have been manipulated to the point that you can not tell where the font came from even if you have an idea as to the origin of the font. Aside from these problems with locating a font I will always try and take some time to try and track down the font that is used in the logo. This is especially true if there are a large number of letters as there is in this logo.
There really is no way of easily finding which font is used. There are a couple of font programs than can search out for you but for me it is just an exercise in getting out my font books and trying to track down the font.
After searching for a while I found what I believe is a close representation of the font.
The font I found was Square 721 Dm.

Create a New Layer Called Type

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Create a new layer in the object manager> rename the layer to “Type”. Now select this layer by clicking on the layer so that it is red in the object manager.
Once you find the font the next task is to type out the text and size up the text so that the new text is the same size as the old text. Once we have resized the text the next thing that we need to do is place the text over the old text. Figure 17 shows us that the text is close to the original.

Adjsut Your Kerning

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To adjust the kerning in the line of text click on the kerning tool (blue box) and drag the kerning tool to the right to increase the space or to the left to decrease the space. In this case I will adjust the text a little to the left. Now I need to fine tune the letters. To do this I still need the shaping tool to be activated. When you click on the text you will notice that there are little white squares beside each of the letters. If you click on one of these nodes it turns solid black. Once it is black it means that the character is selected. Now you can move the individual character – see figure 19. You will notice from figure 19 that I am moving the letter A to the left. The letter has not moved however the yellow dotted line indicates how much the letter will be moved.

Our Text is Almost Complete

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Figure 20 now shows that I moved the letters so that they now all line up with the original text.

Adjust the “W”

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The only thing left to adjust is the “W” in the first line. It is too big and it needs to be condensed. To this I will need to break the text apart into individual letters. To break the letters apart we need to go to ARRANGE | BREAK APART. This will now allow me to condense the “W”.  Figure 21 shows the finished text.

Our Finished Logo

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Figure 22 shows the finished logo.

Recreating logos from scratch requires a little practice. However with some practice and some patience a lot of the logos you get are going to be fairly quick to draw. The more you draw the faster that you become. It is important to remember that when you are doing logos recreating the logo from scratch is fine but look to other tools. For example weld and trimming can quickly yield acceptable results. Also, as we have shown above, using standard text is a quick way of recreating text. There is no need to redraw it if you do not have to.

Creating better scans
Scanner Specs

  1. Make sure the scanner you buy has at least a 24 bit colour depth. A lot of times the quality of the scan is not the resolution but the colour depth. The higher the bit depth the better the scan.
  2. Make sure it has at least a 300 by 600 Optical (not interpolated) resolution
  3. It should have at least an 8.5 by 11.5 bed size
  4. It is best to have a scanner that comes with a SCSI card or a USB connector (If your computer supports USB buy this type – it is easy and does not require opening up your case). You can also purchase a parallel version which connects to your parallel port (printer port). This type of connection is the slowest of the three. The SCSI and the USB are the fastest. However, there is nothing wrong with the parallel interface. If you have a parallel scanner you will need to attach your printer into the scanner. The scanner comes with a parallel pass through port so don’t worry if you think you will not be able to run your printer.
  5. Keep the glass clean. Do not scratch it.
  6. Wear gloves. Keep your fingerprints off the glass.
  7. Make sure you turn the power off to the scanner when you are not using the scanner. If you don’t you can burn the lamp out. Most new scanners come with a power saver mode and will “sleep” when not in use for a certain time limit.
  8. My choice for a scanner is the HP 5200C(supports both USB and parallel) or 6200C(USB and comes with an optional document feeder). Don’t be fooled by the $99 dollar scanner.

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