Looking for good software advice.

An interactive section of TheLetterheads.com

Topics include: Sign Making, Design, Fabrication, Letterheads, Sign Books.

Off Topic Posts may be deleted at the discretion of the web hosts. ABSOLUTELY NO SHARING OF COPYRIGHTED FONTS, CLIP ART, or VIDEOS!

Please take social chit-chat elsewhere!

Moderators: Danny Baronian, Mike Jackson

Post Reply
Jes Troelsen
Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Aug 17, 2013 6:08 am
Location: Roskilde, Denmark
Contact:

Looking for good software advice.

Post by Jes Troelsen » Fri Sep 06, 2013 1:58 am

Hi all letterheads..

As I described in my introduction post I'm starting to do more sign work, and i want to started the right way..
Right now I'm trying to figure out what software to use when designing signs and shop fronts.

What software would you recommend:

For working with ornaments and fonts

For doing layout of shop fronts and signs

For getting the designs ready for making pounces, prints, screens or cutting vinyl masks ?

I guess illustrator is a obvious place to start, but is there cheaper alternatives out there, open source software ?

And finally where can i find good tutorials for designing signs in the software.


I tried to read posts on the subject, but to a newbie in sign software its very difficult to know where to start..

I hope you have the time to help me getting started the right way...

Regards Jes
Jes Troelsen
Ovner at AKANTUS, www.akantus-maler.dk
Danish painter, gilder, sign writer.

Lorenzo Petersson
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:11 pm

Re: Looking for good software advice.

Post by Lorenzo Petersson » Fri Sep 06, 2013 6:59 pm

Not much to add to this except that Inkscape was recommended to me for vector graphics if that's what you're looking for?
Wouldn't recommend it to any Mac users though, i spent more time having technical issues with it than actually using it for work and ended up buying an Illustrator license after all.
If you use Windows or Linux it might be different though.

Robare M. Novou
Posts: 415
Joined: Thu May 06, 2004 11:18 am
Location: Milwaukee
Contact:

Re: Looking for good software advice.

Post by Robare M. Novou » Mon Sep 09, 2013 1:04 pm

Corel would be your best choice for what your requirements are when it comes to the cost of the software.

I use both CorelDRAW and Adobe illustrator.

You can do scale drawings in CorelDRAW....and yes you can do scaling in Adobe illustrator..but it is a three ring circus to do so. So much easier in CorelDRAW.

You can purchase a CorelDraw Suite for less than $100 on eBay. Just make sure the version you get has "Visual Basic"...which helps with your cutting and plotting when you or if you use some sort of bridge software between your computer and the plotter.

CorelDraw also comes with Font Navigator...so you can keep track of your fonts.

Snapping to guidelines and objects is more pronounced in CorelDraw...making it easier to line things up...in Adobe Illustrator the snap-to feature is very weak and causes the user to swear a lot.

Zooming in and out of a your work is also easier in CorelDRAW than it is Adobe illustrator.
Left click on the mouse to zoom in...Right click on the mouse to zoom out.

In Adobe Illustrator I call it half zoom...you can left click on the mouse to zoom in..but then to zoom out you are left to click on several menu options or take your hand off the mouse and hold down the Ctrl button while you press the plus(+) sign key. How "F*%^#@ing lame is that.!

There are also a lot of other complicated multi-step design and effects processes in Adobe Illustrator, but don't let that deter you. Cause you might enjoy that sort of craziness. And they say artists are crazy...gee I wonder why.? Could be that the software engineers are crazier. No.? I think the engineers revel in their ability to cause frustration for the software user.

That said, there are a lot of great effects in Adobe illustrator, effects that you can't get in CorelDRAW.

So save yourself a lot of frustration and get both CorelDRAW and Adobe illustrator.

Then head on over to Corel.com or Adobe.com for some tutorials. You might want to try some youtube.com tutorials as well. Or maybe some Lynda.com lessons.

When you are done with that, head on down to your local used book store...plenty of used design user manuals in the flavor of your favorite design software should be available.

Good Luck with your search and choice.

And if I hear some cursing off in the distance...I'll know it's you.

RMN
What's On Your Book Shelf ?

http://www.milwaukeesignworks.com

vance galliher
Posts: 307
Joined: Mon Apr 12, 2004 11:38 pm
Location: springfield, or.
Contact:

Re: Looking for good software advice.

Post by vance galliher » Mon Sep 09, 2013 4:02 pm

robare, as a corel x3 user, i'm interested in how you set this up .......

"Left click on the mouse to zoom in...Right click on the mouse to zoom out." ?
when i left or right click mouse, it just selects object...
thanks for info.......
vance
dimensional and glass art signs
http://www.vancegallihersigns.com

Frank Smith
Posts: 17
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 9:03 am
Location: Albany, NY
Contact:

Re: Looking for good software advice.

Post by Frank Smith » Mon Sep 09, 2013 5:38 pm

The easy way to zoom in Corel is with a scroll mouse— just use the scroll wheel to zoom in and out. You can simultaneously move the mouse forward, back, left and right to pan around.

vance galliher
Posts: 307
Joined: Mon Apr 12, 2004 11:38 pm
Location: springfield, or.
Contact:

Re: Looking for good software advice.

Post by vance galliher » Mon Sep 09, 2013 7:12 pm

thanks for the reminder frank, i just forgot that's how i do it all the time . but i am curious about the left/right click approach.
vance
dimensional and glass art signs
http://www.vancegallihersigns.com

Robare M. Novou
Posts: 415
Joined: Thu May 06, 2004 11:18 am
Location: Milwaukee
Contact:

Re: Looking for good software advice.

Post by Robare M. Novou » Tue Sep 10, 2013 12:43 am

Vance,

The left-right mouse click zoom in or out function is available in CorelDRAW when you first click the magnifying glass symbol in the tool box on the left hand side of the screen.

Same thing in Adobe illustrator...you got to click the magnifying glass symbol first.

And Frank, yes you can use the scroll wheel in CorelDraw to zoom in and out without clicking anything.

You can not do that in Adobe Illustrator. Using the mouse's scroll wheel in Adobe illustrator only moves the artboard up and down...no zooming in or out.

Would you also like to talk about how easy it is to set up guidelines in CorelDraw vs. Adobe illustrator.?

Remember...CorelDraw is a design/layout program...Adobe illustrator is an artwork creation program.

But sometimes the lines are blurred between the two software programs.

RMN
Last edited by Robare M. Novou on Wed Sep 11, 2013 5:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
What's On Your Book Shelf ?

http://www.milwaukeesignworks.com

Dan Seese
Posts: 313
Joined: Tue Apr 13, 2004 11:29 pm
Location: Fort Collins, CO
Contact:

Re: Looking for good software advice.

Post by Dan Seese » Tue Sep 10, 2013 6:16 am

That's a nice comparative overview of the 2 major design programs, Robare.

I mostly use FlexiSIGN Pro. I've found it to be an excellent program for my sign & design needs but it's pretty expensive. There are also limits to what it can do and I'll sometimes convert my design to an eps and bring it into Illustrator or Photoshop to enhance things.

I have an ancient version of CorelDRAW 3 which I never use and I also have Illustrator, which I use periodically. It's never been really intuitive to me, even though I've gone through Lynda.com lessons. I just don't use it that often so I forget the functions. Corel is more intuitive but I'm sure that's because it's what I started with when I first got a computer in the 90's.

I think if I were starting out & had a limited budget, CorelDRAW would be an obvious choice. I'm thinking of purchasing a new version myself to see how useful it might be.
Dan
"The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne."
Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340 - 1400)

http://DanSeeseStudios.com
http://www.DanSeeseStudios.com/blog/
http://www.facebook.com/DanSeeseStudios

Mark Summers
Posts: 176
Joined: Mon Feb 02, 2009 4:03 pm
Location: Frisco, Co
Contact:

Re: Looking for good software advice.

Post by Mark Summers » Tue Sep 10, 2013 8:04 am

The one thing that Jes is interested in is the ability to cut vinyl which
I don't think will happen with Corel or Illustrator. I've used Signlab
since the beginning of time. You don't have to buy say the Print/Cut
version $$. They do have a pared down version that would be adequate.
I'm sure Flexi has the same. Corel and Illustrator could be very useful
for the design aspect.

Mark

Kent Smith
Posts: 555
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2004 6:41 pm
Location: Estes Park, CO
Contact:

Re: Looking for good software advice.

Post by Kent Smith » Tue Sep 10, 2013 10:09 am

My two cents worth, I am still a Gerber Omega user and am very happy with all the tools available, especially in the current 5.0 version. I have rarely needed any other program to complete my tasks and am glad I made the initial investment so many years ago.

Kelly Thorson
Posts: 484
Joined: Tue Apr 20, 2004 11:53 pm
Location: Penzance, SK Canada
Contact:

Re: Looking for good software advice.

Post by Kelly Thorson » Tue Sep 10, 2013 2:08 pm

You can cut directly from Corel Draw with Roland plotters and I understand you can with most other plotters too.
You need to make sure your artwork has no fill and is a hairline outline. I have a Roland CX 24 and Corel Draw and I "print" directly to my plotter.

How to set up vinyl cutter/plotter to cut directly from Corel Draw
I believe there is no shame in failure. Rather, the shame lies in the loss of all the things that might have been, but for the fear of failure.

Jes Troelsen
Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Aug 17, 2013 6:08 am
Location: Roskilde, Denmark
Contact:

Re: Looking for good software advice.

Post by Jes Troelsen » Wed Sep 11, 2013 4:10 pm

Thanks to you all for your answers..
Especialy to Robare for his useful tips concerning CorelDRAW and Adobe illustrator.
I guess I'll have to buy these two programs..
I was looking for some open source stuff, but its probably better to start using the industry standard from the beginning..

Jes
Jes Troelsen
Ovner at AKANTUS, www.akantus-maler.dk
Danish painter, gilder, sign writer.

Robare M. Novou
Posts: 415
Joined: Thu May 06, 2004 11:18 am
Location: Milwaukee
Contact:

Re: Looking for good software advice.

Post by Robare M. Novou » Wed Sep 11, 2013 6:19 pm

You can cut directly from CorelDraw or Adobe illustrator.

I use both a Roland and a Graphtec plotter.

For the Roland plotter I treat it like a printer, I select "print" from the "File" drop down menu.

Select the Roland plotter from the list of printer/plotter devices in the print dialog box.

Then make sure you have the cutting area in the right spot by clicking on the "print preview" button.

Click "print" and watch the plotter do it's thing.

Sure, you gotta load the plotter driver first before you use the plotter, but that's a one time event.

Also, make sure there are no color fills in your cutting area and that the outlines are black and are .004 or less in thickness.

Don't forget to weld your cursive strokes...or else it will cut each letter individually...you'll be able to see that in preview mode before you hit the print button.

I say that Cuz sometimes I forget to weld things. And I hate cutting the ... job twice.

With the Graphtec plotter, you download a free cut program called "Cutting Master 2" from the Graphtec website.
There's a downloadable manual for it also. So you can refer to that when you get brain freeze.

Cutting Master 2 integrates with both CorelDRAW and Adobe illustrator.

Once CM2 is installed you access it from within CorelDRAW by clicking the "Application Launcher" button, which is located on the second menu bar down from the top. A drop down menu will appear and you will be able to select "cut/plot" from the options that appear.

Then two dialog boxes will appear, one is the job queue, the other is the cut/plot properties dialog box.

You will see your job listed and if you like, you can then minimize the job queue dialog box to get it out of the way.

You can then focus on the cut/plot dialog box, as it shows you what you are about to cut/plot along with dimensions that you can adjust.

Most adjustments are made in CorelDRAW or Adobe illustrator, like the size of the cut/plot area and fitting everything within that area.

There's an Auto Weld function in Cutting Master 2...and you can cut different color outlines...not just black.

In Adobe illustrator you can access the CM2 program from the FiLE menu.
And just like in CorelDRAW the same dialog box instructions apply in Adobe illustrator.

From the Graphtec website...

Cutting Master Compatibility with CorelDRAW:
CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 10-X6 (includes Visual Basic)
CorelDRAW Premium Suite 10-X6 (includes Visual Basic)

Note: Cannot use Cutting Master with CorelDraw Download (Home) version or Education version since they do not include Visual Basic. Users with these two versions have to contact Corel and upgrade to full versions.


RMN
Last edited by Robare M. Novou on Sun Sep 15, 2013 4:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
What's On Your Book Shelf ?

http://www.milwaukeesignworks.com

Robare M. Novou
Posts: 415
Joined: Thu May 06, 2004 11:18 am
Location: Milwaukee
Contact:

Re: Looking for good software advice.

Post by Robare M. Novou » Wed Sep 11, 2013 6:27 pm

Before you buy any software design program, you can for the most part download a free 30 day trial version.

I'm not sure, but can you do bitmap manipulation in Flexi Sign and/or Gerber Omega.?

Someone who has those programs will have add those answers to this conversation....How 'bout it Dan...and Kent.?

Tell us a little bit about your design software.

RMN
What's On Your Book Shelf ?

http://www.milwaukeesignworks.com

Dan Seese
Posts: 313
Joined: Tue Apr 13, 2004 11:29 pm
Location: Fort Collins, CO
Contact:

Re: Looking for good software advice.

Post by Dan Seese » Thu Sep 12, 2013 12:54 pm

I'm not sure, but can you do bitmap manipulation in Flexi Sign and/or Gerber Omega.?
Yes, Robare, you can do pretty extensive photo manipulation in FlexiSIGN. But it doesn't seem to be as versatile as the capability in Photoshop which is why I sometimes take it into Photoshop for further enhancement.
However, it might be more of a user preference where I am more familiar with Photoshop's capabilities than those in Flexi. I don't do any digital printing & never plan to go there - though I have a couple of vendors who do that for me periodically.
Overall, FlexiSIGN is easy to use & has a lot of tools beyond what I've learned. And it's made specifically for signs so you don't need any add-on cutting software. (Having said that, it seems like a lot of shops use CorelDRAW so I assume the software developers have done a good job of accommodating the program to the sign industry.)
My plotter is a 30" Graphtech - which I love. It's fairly old, as technology goes (about 11 years) but I cut vinyl, mask, sandblast stencil, plot line drawings, pounce patterns, etc. Still doesn't make coffee but I can live with that.
Dan
"The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne."
Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340 - 1400)

http://DanSeeseStudios.com
http://www.DanSeeseStudios.com/blog/
http://www.facebook.com/DanSeeseStudios

Ron Berlier
Posts: 231
Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2004 3:27 am

Re: Looking for good software advice.

Post by Ron Berlier » Fri Sep 13, 2013 2:07 am

Dan - WHAT, no coffee :?: :?: Must be time to give serious consideration to an upgrade. :lol:
Ron Berlier
Wherever I go, there I am.

Robare M. Novou
Posts: 415
Joined: Thu May 06, 2004 11:18 am
Location: Milwaukee
Contact:

Re: Looking for good software advice.

Post by Robare M. Novou » Sat Sep 14, 2013 12:48 am

Last edited by Robare M. Novou on Sat Sep 14, 2013 11:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
What's On Your Book Shelf ?

http://www.milwaukeesignworks.com

Jes Troelsen
Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Aug 17, 2013 6:08 am
Location: Roskilde, Denmark
Contact:

Re: Looking for good software advice.

Post by Jes Troelsen » Sat Sep 14, 2013 3:00 am

Hi Robare

Thanks for the great help..
The price for Adobe CS6 is really good...almost to good...
Can I be sure it's a full working key for all of these products ?

Jes
Jes Troelsen
Ovner at AKANTUS, www.akantus-maler.dk
Danish painter, gilder, sign writer.

Robare M. Novou
Posts: 415
Joined: Thu May 06, 2004 11:18 am
Location: Milwaukee
Contact:

Re: Looking for good software advice.

Post by Robare M. Novou » Sat Sep 14, 2013 10:54 am

The link to the Adobe Suite on Ebay is the same Box and Software that I have.

Because I was a web student at a local trade college I only paid $350 US dollars for it through the school book store.

And yes it is fully functional, all the buttons work, all the effects works...you're good to go.

That said there are some services that you cannot access, like their stock photo service.

I can't remember if I had to use my student ID # along with the Adobe Registration Number as it states on the box.

You might want to contact the eBay seller to be sure.

If you do some research on the difference between Regular and Student versions of Adobe CS6 you will find some things you are not allowed to do with the student version, like use it for commercial purposes (earning a living).

The student version is priced for the convenience of cash strapped college students.

The commercial version is priced to gouge out the eyes of your cash producing graphics business.

Adobe is the Ronald McDonald of graphics programs...they get you when you're young and make you swear your loyalty to them for the rest of your life.

Happy Meal anyone.?

Just found this on eBay, Happy Meal not included:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/CorelDraw-Graph ... 3a84d2fc7c

Jes, for what you stated on what you want to do you can't beat CorelDRAW. It's very affordable, easy to use, and has plenty of features.

If you would have said you wanted to do Professional Photography and high end photo manipulation then I would have steered you toward Adobe Photo Shop.


RMN
What's On Your Book Shelf ?

http://www.milwaukeesignworks.com

Jes Troelsen
Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Aug 17, 2013 6:08 am
Location: Roskilde, Denmark
Contact:

Re: Looking for good software advice.

Post by Jes Troelsen » Wed Sep 18, 2013 4:24 pm

Hi Robare
I got the Adobe suite of E-bay....
Got them to send me the reg.key by email.. this way in buying a service and not a product from a country outside Europe, makes a big difference as I don't have to pay import tax :-)
Now i downloaded the program files and installed it, and its working fine, got it running on two computer..
So now I just got to learn how to use it...
I'm studying YouTube videos and other tutorials online, and consider taking some lessons.
Thanks for the help so far..

Btw do you know of a good place to get free vector graphics and fonts for signwriting?

Regards Jes
Jes Troelsen
Ovner at AKANTUS, www.akantus-maler.dk
Danish painter, gilder, sign writer.

Robare M. Novou
Posts: 415
Joined: Thu May 06, 2004 11:18 am
Location: Milwaukee
Contact:

Re: Looking for good software advice.

Post by Robare M. Novou » Thu Sep 19, 2013 8:05 pm

I see that Corel is keeping up with the neighbors by also offering Cloud Services.

Couldn't you have gone to eBay Denmark to purchase your CS6 in Europe.?: http://www.ebay.dk/

Jes, If you visit the font sites, you will find that some of them offer a few free font downloads.

Does not your Adobe Cloud Software come with a few adobe fonts.?

I opened my Adobe illustrator, set up a new page (artboard), typed a phrase and looked at the character box at the top to see that I have use of most of the fonts that I use in Coreldraw.

It appears that Adobe illustrator is able to get fonts to use from either my Corel Font Navigator or from fonts on my hard drive. I'm not sure which...so I may have to look into it.

You might have to do a "Help" font subject look-up in your Adobe illustrator.

RMN
What's On Your Book Shelf ?

http://www.milwaukeesignworks.com

Lee Littlewood
Posts: 219
Joined: Thu Apr 15, 2004 2:36 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon
Contact:

Re: Looking for good software advice.

Post by Lee Littlewood » Fri Sep 20, 2013 2:16 pm

(not directly relevant, but still on-topic)

When we bought Flexi in 2000 or so, it was Macintosh native. Times have changed, and they recently announced that they will no longer support Mac. So we find ourselves looking around at the possibilities - stay with Flexi and try a PC emulator program, or go to Corel if they still run on Apple, or buy a whole new PC&software setup and learn a new OS.
Illustrator runs fine on Macs, and there are nice bridge programs, but my gawd, it is tedious to use for signs.

Any other macsignwriters out there?
where am i? Now, when i need me...

Robare M. Novou
Posts: 415
Joined: Thu May 06, 2004 11:18 am
Location: Milwaukee
Contact:

Re: Looking for good software advice.

Post by Robare M. Novou » Fri Sep 20, 2013 5:02 pm

Lee,

Only a few current Corel programs now run on a Mac.

http://www.corel.com/corel/allProducts.jsp

Try some of the free downloads to see if one of the Mac versions will work for you.

Or check out some of the eBay auctions for previous versions of Corel/Mac compatible software.

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_trksid= ... &_from=R40

RMN
What's On Your Book Shelf ?

http://www.milwaukeesignworks.com

Danny Baronian
Site Admin
Posts: 624
Joined: Wed Apr 07, 2004 2:16 am
Contact:

Re: Looking for good software advice.

Post by Danny Baronian » Sat Sep 21, 2013 10:39 pm

Jes,

Illustrator, like any program will take time to learn. The best training can be found on Lynda.com.

As for fonts / clip art, purchase as you can from a reputable font house. The work will be clean and free of problems.

To illustrators advantage, it is consider the industry standard, and is in use in most all graphic design firms, as well as in house graphic departments in ad agencies. You may not be dealing with that type of client base, but the advantage to a large user base is a stable, dependable program that will be around for a long time, available for mac and pc.

Lee, using Illustrator there are two programs that will cut straight from Illustrator, one is Co Cut, the other is MagiCut. I've used MagiCut for about 8 years with no problems. It's a plug in, once installed it works just like any other function within Illustrator.

'Tedious to use for signs'. What, illustrator or the bridge programs? I started with FlexiCut, which was a separate, stand alone program. Flexi Cut was tedious.
Danny Baronian
Baronian Mfg.
CNC Routing & Fabrication
http://www.baronian.com

Ron Berlier
Posts: 231
Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2004 3:27 am

Re: Looking for good software advice.

Post by Ron Berlier » Tue Sep 24, 2013 12:57 pm

Danny, so then you are doing all of your sign work in Adobe Illustrator and cutting it with MagiCut? As I recall you have a table router (Gerber)? What are you using with respect to it? Are you still an all Mac environment?
Ron Berlier
Wherever I go, there I am.

Bob Sauls
Posts: 61
Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2010 4:10 pm

Re: Looking for good software advice.

Post by Bob Sauls » Sat Sep 28, 2013 1:50 pm

Love flexi, it is terrific and makes sense for the sign industry not crazy about its bitmap editing. I started in Corel then advanced into Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop because I took a class to better understand the industry, and digital printing. That is not a slam on Corel its just that so many files are sent to us in the Illustrator format and you may tire of the program tango. I am amazed at the prowess that Joe Diaz commands using Coreldraw. It is not by any means a weak program and in my opinion a great value. Thinking of buying it as well. I used version 9 and 11 the import exporting functions were amazing back then.
Let me clarify. many of us use a program like flexi for 85% of the meat and potatos work basic arranging and cutting. and the other programs for finer applications of art prep for print or even getting customers sent files ready for the flexi or other sign design programs.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 11 guests