Pub sign number two – part one

The second sign I’ll be using as an example for my teaching at the Denver Summit is the Troll’s Bitter Ale, one of the signs for NEB’s Pub. I did the sketch freehand on my iPad using the digital pencil.

With the exception of the ‘BITTER ALE’ lettering the sign was then designed in EnRoute using the drawing tools. I drew only half the banner and then flipped it before merging the two halves together. The thin vertical rectangles will be the grooves between the boards. The trolls lettering was done freehand.

I duplicated the file and then merged the pieces together to create a 1″ thick middle section. The welded steel 1″ x 1″ tube frame will be inserted into this section. After I created the reliefs I duplicated the file and flipped it. This would allow me to glue the back to the front and have them align perfectly.

The sign faces were routed from 1.5″ thick 30lb Precision Board.

The centre section was a simple offset cut from 1″ thick Precision Board.

The curly bracket was plasma cut from 1/4″ steel plate in just a few second using the MultiCam plasma cutter.

Here’s the sign mocked up and ready for assembly. I’ll be doing that tomorrow. Stay tuned…

Pub sign step by step – part four

The sign was routed in two pieces for each side. I had mistakenly not reversed the toad stool and so the two halves would not match up. This wasn’t a big deal however for they would be extensively reworked by hand when I sculpted them later.

I welded up a quick frame with 5/8″ round steel bar. This was then placed on the back of one of the halves and an outline traced out with a pencil

I then used my air powered die grinder to create a half could hollow into which I would glue the welded frame. Once I had the first half done I put in the frame added the other side of the sign and carefully flipped it over. I then repeated the process.

Once everything fit properly I spread some PB Bond 240 glue (Coastal Enterprises) This is a one part glue activated by a spritz of water.

I then used some coarse wood screws to fasten the two sides together. I added the two school top pieces using the same glue.

I then ran some 1″ pipe through our bender to form the correct radius I needed.

I cut the fancy bracket from some 1/4″ plate on the MultiCam plasma cutter.

All of this was welded up and then bolted on to a temporary stand for finishing.

Now it is time for the fun part – hand sculpting and panting. Stay tuned…

Pub sign step by step – part three

Creating the Toad Stool Elixer reliefs was a little tricky but fun. I started by selecting the sign outline vectors and creating a flat relief. I entered a value of 5″ for the height. This number is arbitrary as we can easily nudge it up or down as necessary later.

As always I checked my work with a render. a quick check now is fast where if we make a mistake and have to fix it later that gets to be a lot more work.

I then used the outer and inner vectors to modify the sign shape relief. I needed to use a modifier because of the unusual shape (the indent at the top of the sign)

I checked again with a quick render.

I then went on to adding texture. I first added another modifier relief around the sign. If I hadn’t done this when I selected the lettering outline and the base relief it would have only added the texture to the inside of the letters. The oval modifying vector reversed this effect. I used one of the textures from the TEXTURE MAGIC collection called splotches. I entered a value of 0.15″

I did another render check to make sure the texture went where I wanted. All was good.

Then it was time to raise the border of the lettering. I selected the base relief and the lettering border vectors and entered a value of 0.2″ making sure I used the ADD TO command.

One more render check.  All OK.

Then it was on to the bevel lettering. Because the lettering has thick and thin bits the constant height is a better option with the bevel tool. I kept the height small at 0.15″

Another render check.

I then selected the mushroom vectors and used the dome tool to create the fun shaped reliefs. At this point I realized that I had made a mistake in the design. Since this was to be a two sided sign the top round cutout needed to line up on both sides. It was an easy fix as I just rotated the circle until the cutout was at the top. I would modify the bracket later.

Then it was time to start in on the banner.I started with the lowest fold as a flat relief at 0.5″ high/

The middle fold was next at 1″ tall.

And the top section of the banner was 1.5″ tall. This is the thickness of the piece of Precision Board which we would routed from.

I checked the heights of the various reliefs and nudged them up or down as needed using the up/down arrow keys. I then combined the separate reliefs into one.

And one final render check was done to make sure everything looked good.

The banner with ELIXER on it was done separately. to create this banner I first created a flat relief.

I then modified this relief with the oval vector I had drawn around it using the dome tool.

I then used the subtract from along with the dome tool to drop the lettering into the banner.

I tool pathed the sign using a 3/8″ ball nose bit for the rough (at 50% overlap) and then a fine pass using a 1/8″ ball nose bit (at 80% overlap).

Here’s the sign fresh off the MultiCam and the two pieces mocked up together.

Pub sign step by step – part two

The Toad Stool Elixer sign basic vectors were done in Photoshop but we were not done yet. I still needed to add the mushroom shape, the letter outlines and also design the bracket for the sign. I like the bracket to be a part of the sign from the start rather than just a last minute add on.

I imported the sign vectors into EnRoute and then sized it appropriately. Then I could get to work on the bracket. With all of the overlapping lines it looks a little jumbled at this point but the bracket design would be like this.  I wanted the sign support to be fashioned out of 1″ pipe and bend around the sign. This would be intercepted by a piece of 4″ heavy pipe which would ‘cut’ into the sign face. I’d weld a steel ball at the end to cap the pipe. We’d then use the MultiCam CNC plasma cutter to whip up the decorative steel. All this would be welded to a piece of 1/4″ plate to fasten to the wall.

The plate on the wall was a simple combination of shapes which were then combined.

I used the jigsaw tool to trim the pipes and then fined the drawing making it ready to begin building the reliefs. That will begin with the next post.

Pub signs step by step – part one

At the Denver Summit Peter and I will be teaching by discussing and demonstrating how we come up with our ideas and then go through the step by step process of creating our signs. Students are encouraged to work along with us. We’ll provide some files and ideas as starting points. We decided that rather than simply do a sample we would teach using some actual current projects. I’m posting some of the step by steps here as notes for those who attend in case they want to review them later.

In this case we needed a set of signs. We are decorating a pub for NEB’s Fun World. Rather than advertise the brands of beer and liquor they sell we instead will be creating a series of signs which tell the story of the establishment.

Every project begins with an idea. Peter and work collaboratively. we made tow lists – one was faery terms and the other was types of alcoholic beverages. I scribbled furiously as we added items to the list. Once we had a sizeable collection of suitable words we used them as inspiration for the signs we were creating. Peter would design two of the signs while I would also do a pair. We wanted the collections of signs to be eclectic in style and form rather than matched but still within the theme.

Peter tends to work things out in his head and then starts to draw, often adjusting as he goes. He settled on ‘Moon Wine’ for his first project. It will feature a plasma cut steel core with a double sided moon and sign panel mounted to both sides. Peter does a quick rough sketch and then with the idea settled he goes to vector format to create the details. I’ll be posting step by steps of the routing and plasma cut files in coming days.

Peter’s second sign was a shield shaped sign promoting Faerie Water’. The rough sketch I have is still under going some revisions but it is going to be a nice little sign.

I tend to work in a little different fashion. When a firm idea doesn’t pop into my head I simply start drawing. I settled on the name of ‘TROLL’s Bitter Ale’. I knew I wanted a scroll and had settled on a troll sculpt for the graphic. Negative space (AKA: a hole) in the centre of the double sided hanging sign was a must. I started scribbling my ideas down on the paper as they came to mind. The first page netted two gems I would include… a circle at the top and a troll’s hand holding a glass of ale.

I was thinking a donut or oval shaped frame at this point and thought about how I might include a bridge (a place where trolls like to hang out.) but the bridge was one too many elements. A quick thumbnail of the troll proved to be an idea worth more exploration. And the scroll was worth keeping as well.

On the next page of blank paper I drew a troll that was just the right amount of fun.

The fourth page of quick scribbles netted the ideas I was looking for. The troll was perfectly fine. I decided a rough plank sign was fitting and the circle on top would sport the informal ‘troll’ logo. The bracket was also nailed to become part of the sign rather than just an add on.

With the idea firmly in hand and the proportions all worked out it was time to do a proper concept drawing. I did the drawing freehand in photoshop but I worked with the digital pencil using my iPad as a tablet. I sketched in layers, starting rough and then adding layers to do my final rendering. I kept my sketch purposely loose. I didn’t worry about fine detail nor even fonts at this point. That would come later when I did the vector files.

My second concept came a little easier. I had the idea firmly in my head before I set pen to paper.I knew the fonts I would use before I started.  In this case I did the lettering in Illustrator and set the type to the circle. The banner was also laid out in the program. When I was happy I grabbed a screen shot.

I imported the screen shot of the vectors into Photoshop and then used this file as a template to work up the sign rendering which was again done on my iPad using the digital pencil. I was happy with the basic concept but as I drew I got a few more ideas that would add to this image. I’ll be posting these new ideas next time.


A whole lot of dimensional fun!

As we wrap up our current project we are looking forward to a very exciting new project that will keep both our MultiCam plasma and routers busy along with plenty of fun hand work as well. We have been contracted to add a theme to a fifty-two lane bowling alley. The dimensional work will include the side walls as well.

The project will be built using a variety of materials best suited to their job. To withstand the force of stray bowling balls the bottom sections are plasma cut and welded steel. The rockwork, brick, plaster and faux wood will all be hand sculpted fibreglass-reinforced-concrete over a plywood and welded steel frame. Mounting plates will all be designed in EnRoute and plasma cut to ensure accuracy. The shields and number plates will be designed in EnRoute and then routed from 30 lb Precision Board. The tree and hill cutouts will be router cut from MDF and layered to allow indirect LED lighting between them. The ceiling panels will be router cut from a porous dona-cona to absorb sound. It’s going to be a very fun project!