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PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2020 4:27 am 
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SovereignHobbies
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Joined: Sat Feb 28, 2015 9:09 am
Posts: 1016
Location: Aberdeenshire, Scotland, UK
Hi everyone. At this stage, this is a potential project. I'd like to do something a little different and the advent of 3D printing and the explosion of good parts now available makes a lot of the detailed stuff which I enjoy having but don't so much enjoy scratchbuilding makes this seem less daft an idea than it might have, say, 5 years ago.

I'm sure everyone's aware of HMS Ajax. She was a Leander class light cruiser, pennant number 22. She was laid down in 1933 and completed in 1935. She's possibly most famous for her part in the Battle of the River Plate as Commodore Henry Harwood's flagship along with sister ship HMNZS Achillies and the York class heavy cruiser HMS Exeter against the German Panzerschiff Admiral Graf Spee. Displacing around 7,300 tons standard, sporting eight 6" guns in four turrets and capable of 32.5 knots she'd go on to serve throughout and after the war. The full colour 1956 film "The Battle of the River Plate" actually features HMS Ajax in it along with Achillies which is not an authenticity many films can boast. HMS Jamaica stood in for HMS Exeter. Many only find fault with that film because USS Salem plays the part of Graf Spee owing to the fact that there were no Deutschland class Panzerschiffs left to use in the movie. some people find fault with everything though. I think the film is good and well worth a watch today.

I'm thinking about building this ship in 1/200 scale. Why? Because there aren't many cruisers out there in 1/200 scale and it would be rewarding to do so. I could build it in 1/350 which would be cheaper and use a lot of parts I could cadge from our own stock, but there's an Iron Ship Wrights resin kit available in 1/350. It's expensive and ISW gets very mixed reviews, but some part of me feels like it's daft to contemplate scratch building something there's a kit out there of.

I have two sets of plans for her in 1941/1942 fit. I find the Alexandria type camouflage interesting, but not as interesting as the Leamington Spa designs from 1942 onwards. I've been window shopping for parts and good 1/200 Pom Poms appear to be lacking in the market.

The Greenwich Maritime Museum has some of the key parts of the original 1934 plans scanned and online. This would get me more or less to her River Plate appearance with the tall pole masts, unshielded secondary guns and the catapult fitted. The paint is uncontentiously 507C which is nice and easy, but not especially interesting to look at although not unattractive.

Her best camouflage design in terms of an opportunity to use my paints was applied in 1943, but that would require more ferreting about looking for details, and the number of AA weapons will have gone up again.

I'm leaning towards her as-built appearance.

The plans easiest to use would be Profile Morskie's which come printed at 1/400 scale. These include hull forms and stations as well as lots of good clear drawings and sections for the superstructure as of 1941. Profile Morskie generally offers a good product although he often gets a bad write-up for his accuracy. I decided to check his drawings against the original builder's plans.

Image

Generally Profile Morskie isn't a million miles away, although the builder's drawings at GMM give a finer form below the waterline and there is a bit too much sheer end to end. In addition the placement of the knuckle at the bow is a bit different. Surprising to see is that her inner and outer screws are different diameters which I had never realised before, and the centres of the shafts is also different to that shown on Profile Morskie.

In elevation they are pretty close, save for the differences in sheer that are implicit in the hull sections above:

Image
There is slightly more rake on the bow according to the plans on the Greenwich Maritime Museum's site.

Image
Not too much different above the waterline but the difference in placement of the screws and their shafts is more dramatic. Also worthy of comment is the difference in shape of the rudder.

Lastly, Profile Morskie is there or thereabouts in terms of the planform of the hull and placement of barbettes and bits of superstructure.
Image
The differences in placement of secondary mounts around the base of the funnel are associated with the post-River Plate repairs and refit.

This is perhaps an early or even premature thread, but I'd welcome any chit chat vaguely related to the topic, and I shall probably make a start on drawing the essence of my own construction parts in Illustrator to print out at 1/200 this evening. I may be a lazy git and ask one of 4 people I know with laser cutters to cut me some formers. I love this sort of construction and miss building r/c aircraft from my own drawings, but cutting out formers does get tedious after the first one I will admit. Assembling them is another matter entirely though!

I bought a high resolution scan of the original 1/48 builder's drawing of the hull sheer lines from the Greenwich Maritime Museum. The price was £50+VAT per drawing and I'll got it via FTP link. That could get very expensive very quickly, but I reckon it's probably just the one drawing I really need a good copy of so perhaps not toooooo painful. I'm just not sure I could bring myself to use something other than the original plans for the hull now I have become aware of the Leander class' unique features such as different inner and outer screw diameters! I really want to get that knuckle at the bow right too. Other things I'm a little more relaxed about, perhaps curiously for others, because there are many more photographs I can compare plans to of the upperworks than there are of the ship's shape below the waterline.

Overall comparison with Profile Morskie isn't too damning of the modern plans, but the original plans show less sheer and thus by comparison the Profile Morskie plans have a bit of a banana boat look. Not too bad but I'm going to use the originals, needless to say.

Image

For those who are unaware, a common way to measure a ship is using "length between the perpendiculars" which can seem curious to the uninitiated. One the original drawing you will see a vertical line through the rudder post and another through the hull rake at the waterline. The length between these is 522 feet. Converting to metric which is far more convenient and to 1/200 scale the length between perpendiculars is 795.3mm. This is an easy way to get confused and under-scale the model by used the length between perpendiculars then applying the dimension to length at waterline or worse length overall!

Here's how the bows compare. The Leander class cruiser sits slightly stern-down, with 2 feet 4 inches deeper draft at the stern perpendicular than at the bow perpendicular when correctly trimmed. This isn't captured by Profile Morskie and combined with the excess sheer at Main and Forecastle decks conspire to make a deeper hull forward than was actually there.

Image

Here is the stern:

Image

You may note a pair of marks on the stern captioned "CP" which denote the propeller (or screw) positions, along with extended lines forward showing the centrelines of the inner and outer shafts. These are in completely different positions on the who sets of plans.

I have managed to make a start on the actual vector drawing tracing. It'll be a slow burner like most of my stuff.

I'm beginning with a vector drawing which is a direct trace of the National Maritime Museum sheer lines drawing, and once that's done I will rearrange the cross sections along the profile to check their heights and work out what the main and forecastle deck profiles themselves need to look like, since the actual sheer lines show the ship's sheer rather than being a true cross section at each station.

Once that's done, I will probably trace 3 more horizontals, or maybe 4 - we'll see. The one you see below the side elevation is the average waterline.

Once that's done, I will start drawing what you might consider the engineering drawings which take into account how I intend to construct the hull with a suitable breakdown of interlocking slots and subtractions for external facing material thickness on the decks and hull sides.

Image

I will try scoring plasticard on the Cricut maker in due course.

The Cricut Maker is a good machine and can simultaneously hold a pen and a cutting tool of various types (knives, wheels etc), but unfortunately tied and encrypted (apparently) to only work through the god-awful Cricut Design Space web app software. There's a version which can be downloaded now...

The best way to do this is to avoid using the Cricut software as far as is humanly possible and do as much of your design as possible elsewhere. It needs to be a vector drawing tool rather than a pixel drawing tool because the Cricut will eventually follow the vector lines. I use Adobe Illustrator which I've been trying to learn to use for the amateurish graphics we need for our minimalist website (we chose minimalist because it looks more like a style choice rather than incompetence on my part and lack of budget to pay someone who actually knows what they're doing! :D )

e.g. in Illustrator even a technophobe like me can knock this up in layers thus:

Line drawing as the top layer so this will always show:
Image

Markings as the second layer, so these will always show unless hidden by a line above:
Image

Camouflage as a third layer is simply a colouring-in exercise then using block shapes. These will show behind the lines and the markings:
Image

And once I've done all that I paste it into a size-formatted template which matches the sizes and layout of commercially manufactured die-cut sticker paper which goes through an ordinary laser printer. 6 stickers per A4 sheet, 80mm x 80mm and centre-to-centre each copy is 90mm apart horizontally and vertically. Adobe Illustrator makes this pretty easy so I don't need to create a whole new label for each design. I have a template, I update the words on it, tell it to look at a different colour swatch from our master folder and drop in the plane or ship thus:
Image

So, applying this to Cricut does mean you can do things besides Happy Birthday shapes cut out of glitter paper although that's painfully clearly what Cricut think everyone wants to do with it... Gill reminds me that the reason a Cricut is available so relatively cheaply is because there are thousands of people who do buy them to cut out Happy Birthday letters since us lot wanting to use them for model making are somewhat fewer in number!

You draw your artwork in Illustrator as before:
Image

Cricut isn't intelligent enough to just cut wherever there's a line; you have to show it a full path but Illustrator is easy in that respect too. Here I will highlight the "paths" I have drawn and will use the Right-Click menu to Make Continuous Path. Now Cricut will know to follow the whole line and not get stuck where I've joined two lines at the same point.
Image

Illustrator is best for scaling this too, meaning you won't need to actually manipulate the shapes you want in Cricut design space...

Changing over to Cricut Design Space now, you can import your vector drawing and it arrives correctly scaled. It will however take all the colours with it, and will assume you want to cut all the pieces out in different coloured card to Pritt Stick together to hang from a string above the front door to welcome your F-4B loving modelling party guests - so on the right hand side you can drag and drop all the discreet "continuous path" elements into the same colour block. A bit of a faff but easy to do once you know to do it. Cricut will no longer try to do these parts in separate cutting operations on separate material boards.
Image

An assumption / feature of Cricut Design Space which I found infuriating for doing paint masks but may actually be useful for cutting model ship parts is that, as above, it assumes you want all your shapes as solid parts. If you want to cut out what's actually on the screen the way it looks on the screen, you have to Group the parts:
Image

Otherwise it helpfully dismantles everything you've drawn and arranges it all separately the step prior to actually hitting the Go button on the machine. For masks, that makes it pretty useless since the lightning bolt is removed from its surrounding rectangle and cut separately, whilst the rectangle with a lightning bolt shape cut out for my dad to airbrush through comes out as a solid rectangle. In the case of a ship though, I could draw all the hull forms nested as they're shown on the original drawing and Cricut will rearrange them all as separate shapes. As it turns out, it's easier to draw one at a time in Illustrator anyway and drag them out of the way for later so I don't accidently end up joining one to another's vector path. What Cricut Design Space will do later though is rearrange all the bits to give me more efficient use of the plasticard, in theory at least. I fully expect to have to arrange them all myself and lock them into that arrangement using the Group function.

I'm a million miles from expert in this, but the key thing that differentiates a vector drawing from a pixel drawing is that pixels are spots of colour arranged to form an image, whereas a vector is a mathematical line between two points. A pixel image such as a .png, .tiff or .jpeg when scaled up goes blocky. A vector image can be scaled infinitely but the aspect the Cricut needs is that the blade will follow the mathematical line between points.

This is a view of my tracing here. I have the hi-resolution scan of the original ink drawing as a background Layer, and I am drawing vector lines on top.
Image

If we zoom right in on the stern post rudder hinge you can see that even the high resolution scan, which is a pixel file, turns blocky and hence the Cricut wouldn't know how to follow that - it can't tell one pixel from the next like our brains can. Equally though you can see the vector lines I'm drawing. It's just a series of die-straight lines between point A and point B, C and so on, some of which are bent using a tool for bending straight lines.
Image

The vector line is being shown at 0.25mm wide, but it can be shown at any thickness including zero mm wide - a mathematical line is 1-dimensional concept rather than a physical line. Even set to zero it's still there, only invisible and the Cricut's blade would still follow it like a road map. Of course, being set to zero does make it rather difficult to see what you've drawn :D

Adobe Illustrator is pretty easy to use. You don't need to type in commands and coordinates like old-fashioned AutoCAD from 20odd years ago...

I begin with drawing a simple set of straight lines from corners to corners - you can see the basic Pen tool for straight lines highlighted on the toolbar to the left of the screen:
Image

Next I change to the curvy modifier tool (seen on the toolbar to the left which allows me to add points to a straight line and pull them around to bend the line. The line will bend in a surprisingly intuitive way to keep curves continuous (but more advanced methods can further modify this, although it's seldom necessary in my limited experience). Initially it might cause a curve I don't want like this:
Image

However as I add the rest of the curvature points it falls into a mathematically agreeable shape which in itself shows the skill of these old draughtsmen and naval architects in the 1920s because the sheer lines of the ship also happen to be mathematically agreeable! That's more impressive than any amount of playing around in a computer drawing software package!
Image

There are handy scaling and "transform" tools to flip this around an axis of my choosing. If I copy and paste the above, then Transform>Reflect>Vertical it will be flipped on its vertical axis giving me the mirror image for the other side.

Thanks for looking in :smallsmile:

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James Duff
Sovereign Hobbies Ltd
http://www.sovereignhobbies.co.uk

Current build:
HMS Imperial D09 1/350
http://www.shipmodels.info/mws_forum/viewtopic.php?f=59&t=167151


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2020 9:32 am 
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Woah! Ambitious! Look forward to more updates.

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"Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday." John Wayne

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2020 9:42 am 
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SovereignHobbies
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Joined: Sat Feb 28, 2015 9:09 am
Posts: 1016
Location: Aberdeenshire, Scotland, UK
Thanks Martin. It's good to challenge oneself now and again :)

Whilst certainly a primary source reference and more reliable than the likes of Profile Morskie, one thing one cannot assume is that everything from a scan of a hand-drawn 90 year old builder's drawing will actually fit!

An advantage of tracing these out electronically is that I can try each of the sections in situ to see if they actually match the side elevation which for modelling purposes will in effect be the part of the keel of the model albeit in the vertical rather than horizontal plane.

Image

The tops of the sections should not be worried about as such - these are sheer line drawings which when nested together give an impression of the form of the whole hull viewed from ahead or astern. These will be clipped off in due course for model parts creation. Equally though, the forecastle and upper decks are not flat but slightly cambered. Still, the sections will need some fettling to fit which is better done now before they actually exist in plastic.

Guesstimating from a nice photograph staring at the torpedo tubes, I measured the diameter of the opening of the torpedo tubes on my screen then measured the deck planking as close to vertically below as I could, and it scaled out to an exactly 7 inch wide plank, which passes the laugh test. In 1/200 scale that's 0.35 inches which a truely repulsive scaler. Dear Americans, the Metrinch is the work of Satan. Either join the 20th Century and use Metric like civilised people or stick to fractions of an inch. We digress. The nearest V groove Evergreen styrene stock is available in either 0.3 inch spacings or 0.4 inch spacings. I'll go for 0.4 inch I think.

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James Duff
Sovereign Hobbies Ltd
http://www.sovereignhobbies.co.uk

Current build:
HMS Imperial D09 1/350
http://www.shipmodels.info/mws_forum/viewtopic.php?f=59&t=167151


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2020 9:25 am 
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SovereignHobbies
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Joined: Sat Feb 28, 2015 9:09 am
Posts: 1016
Location: Aberdeenshire, Scotland, UK
A requirement arose on another model build to make an alignment jig with an 82.5 degree angle. I decided to test my eventual ambitions for HMS Ajax by using the Cricut Maker to cut me said jig from a piece of plasticard, and whilst it has been a complete success I still have taken learnings from it.



The jig was drawn in Adobe Illustrator just like my hull forms are:

Image

I saved it as a .svg file rather than the default .ai file for Adobe Illustrator. Cricut Design Space can import pixel drawings and SVG files...

Image



Cricut caters for a large number of arty-farty-crafty materials but doesn't anticipate us sorts wanting to cut plasticard, but it does include basswood, so I decided to try that setting with plasticard and see how it goes. The plasticard is 1mm thick, by the way.


It worked great, but I chose the 3/32" basswood setting and Cricut reckons that needs 14 passes. I stopped it after 4. The label I included came out lovely, but the machine implements it by executing around four-hundred-and-eleventy-trillion stabs into the material, and combined with 14 passes the machine told me this lot would take 4 and a half hours. The actual outline took around 6 seconds per pass in continuous, smooth cuts. Lesson learned!

https://www.facebook.com/jamie.duff.75/videos/10158437955186489/


To ensure you folks can see what I can see after stopping it at 4 passes, I've rubbed in some dark grey paint with a piece of paper towel to show you what it has done. I was worried it would be hard to see on screen.

Image

After 4 passes, it snapped away cleanly thus. This will be perfect for my HMS Ajax hull parts.

Image

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James Duff
Sovereign Hobbies Ltd
http://www.sovereignhobbies.co.uk

Current build:
HMS Imperial D09 1/350
http://www.shipmodels.info/mws_forum/viewtopic.php?f=59&t=167151


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2020 11:15 am 
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Ah, profile art...brings back some memories! Of course, drawing the panel lines, rivets/screws, camo/markings and other such was the easy part...

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Sean Nash, ACG (aircraft camo gestapo)

On the ways:
1/200 Trumpeter HMS Nelson
1/700 Tamiya USS Yorktown CV-5

In the stash:
1/35 Italiari PT-109
1/35 Tamiya "Pibber" Patrol Boat
1/350 Trumpeter USS Yorktown CV-10


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2020 1:14 pm 
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SovereignHobbies
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Location: Aberdeenshire, Scotland, UK
Yes if I can manage it's certainly the easy part
It's enough for customers to recognise the paint scheme they need and beyond that if I have any flair at all it's mechanical rather than artistic!

People don't buy my paint for my box art skills, thankfully!

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James Duff
Sovereign Hobbies Ltd
http://www.sovereignhobbies.co.uk

Current build:
HMS Imperial D09 1/350
http://www.shipmodels.info/mws_forum/viewtopic.php?f=59&t=167151


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2020 8:28 pm 
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Totally, mate. In fact, the fancy 3D effects can actually get in the way of proper understanding of the camouflage colors and whatnot, a la some of the AeroMaster or EagleStrike offerings.

Anyway, here's an example of what I used to get up to:


Attachments:
P-51B_PZ-S_352ndFG-2.JPG
P-51B_PZ-S_352ndFG-2.JPG [ 27.68 KiB | Viewed 247 times ]
P-51B_MetalProfile-1.JPG
P-51B_MetalProfile-1.JPG [ 28.17 KiB | Viewed 247 times ]

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Sean Nash, ACG (aircraft camo gestapo)

On the ways:
1/200 Trumpeter HMS Nelson
1/700 Tamiya USS Yorktown CV-5

In the stash:
1/35 Italiari PT-109
1/35 Tamiya "Pibber" Patrol Boat
1/350 Trumpeter USS Yorktown CV-10
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 04, 2020 6:12 am 
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SovereignHobbies
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Joined: Sat Feb 28, 2015 9:09 am
Posts: 1016
Location: Aberdeenshire, Scotland, UK
Those are really nice. At the moment I don't know how to do the lighting effects and stuff like that. Well done to you!

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James Duff
Sovereign Hobbies Ltd
http://www.sovereignhobbies.co.uk

Current build:
HMS Imperial D09 1/350
http://www.shipmodels.info/mws_forum/viewtopic.php?f=59&t=167151


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 04, 2020 8:43 am 
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SovereignHobbies wrote:
Those are really nice. At the moment I don't know how to do the lighting effects and stuff like that. Well done to you!


Thank you.

As for how, it was the hard way—these were basically the culmination of a series of increasingly elaborate efforts to improve my skills in Adobe Photoshop. Essentially, it involved a lot of thin and fat lines of black and white, and copious use of Blur, Gaussian Blur, Smudge and other tools, strategic layer placement and opacity, and elbow grease. While I've gotten quite rusty in the intervening years (these were made c. 2005-2006), it's possibly I could still make something nice given time and motivation.

I've always wanted to do a ship profile...but anyway, back on topic. It'll be interesting to watch you scratch-build Ajax!

_________________
Sean Nash, ACG (aircraft camo gestapo)

On the ways:
1/200 Trumpeter HMS Nelson
1/700 Tamiya USS Yorktown CV-5

In the stash:
1/35 Italiari PT-109
1/35 Tamiya "Pibber" Patrol Boat
1/350 Trumpeter USS Yorktown CV-10


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 04, 2020 9:24 pm 
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Jamie,

I've been redrawing plans for a while now in CorelDraw. I've tried Illustrator, but for some reason, when my brain gets used to one program, I find others practically impossible to learn. Might be an age thing.

Anyway, A couple of things I've learned. Plans suck. It doesn't matter where they come from, they are never perfect. Unless you get a good set of digital ones from a shipyard.
The First thing I do is attempt to straighten and un-warp (un-distort, call it what you want) them in PhotoPaint, Photoshop for adobe users. This can be a tedious effort, but helpful before bringing into the vector program.

Once in, like you, I make several layers. The Drawings on bottom. In order to scale them properly, I gather as much info as possible (LOA,LBP,Beam,Draught,Camber,Heights above baseline,Frame spacing, Station spacing etc)

The next layer is for my grid. Using the frame and station spacing, I make a grid (in scale) to fit the drawings.
Image
Image

Once the grid is done, I turn on the plan layer and lock the grid layer. I make a couple of boxes with key dimensions and scale the plans as close as possible to the scale I want to work in. I often pick 1/100 as the math is easy, then make a copy when finished the drawing to re-scale to whatever desired scale I want.

Once scaled and locked, I draw the lines on a separate layer.
Image

Turning off the plan layer shows the finished drawing.
Image

I align the sheer, Buttocks and Body plans and use different colours of straight lines and boxes to ensure each drawing it aligned with the other at key points.
Image

One thing I wanted to mention, these drawing files get pretty large and sometimes they get so large they slow down or crash a computer. One way I try and keep file size under control is to minimize the number of points(nodes) in a line(curve). When you draw your frame, you put a point at each intersection. This is working for you, but may make your files larger than necessary.

I usually start with one section and make it a curve. The tool bar has icons that will do this and you can pick how a curve works. Equal on both sides, smooth, sharp angle.
Image

When a section is a curve, you should get an arrow that allows you to manipulate it.
Image
Image

If you prefer to put all the points down to make your curve, consider removing every second one afterwards to trim the fat so to speak.

That's enough for now on drawings.
Next the Cricut Maker. I've only been using it for a few months, but am happy so far with the results.

You mention that your drawing comes in scaled correctly. Mine doesn't for some reason. My 'fix' is to group or combine parts and draw a box around them and group them all. The box size is a whole number. For Example, if the parts fit inside a 4" by 6" box, that's what I use. If they are a little bigger, I go to 5 x 7. This allows me to easily resize inside design space by using the dimension boxes at top and then deleting the box. (after ungrouping)
Image
Image

When I draw parts, they are always a closed loop. It's automatic in Corel. I do get the program moving the parts around, the fix for that is to attach them. Simply select them all and hit attach at the bottom right. (see above image)

And lastly, materials. I know there's a way to share things in DS, but I'm too literal to figure it out. I made my own custom materials for Styrene.
First, Select Browse all materials.
Image

Then Material Settings.
Image

This is what I came up with for Styrene.
Image

Go to the bottom and select Add New Material. You can give it a name, then select pressure, number of passes and knife req'd. Copy mine for now and adjust as you see fit.
Image

And lastly, select them as you favourites so they show up on your first page.

I hope that helps a bit. It's a bit of a treasure hunt to find specific info for our hobby, so I figured I'd share what I think I know.

Oh, and don't cut letters or numbers into the plastic, just use a marker and write on it. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should!! If you really have to cut, then use a font that has single lines, like OLF Simple Sans.

Darren

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In the not so tropical climate of the Great White North.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2020 8:37 am 
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Joined: Sat Feb 28, 2015 9:09 am
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Location: Aberdeenshire, Scotland, UK
Hi Darren,

This is very useful, thank you :thumbs_up_1:

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James Duff
Sovereign Hobbies Ltd
http://www.sovereignhobbies.co.uk

Current build:
HMS Imperial D09 1/350
http://www.shipmodels.info/mws_forum/viewtopic.php?f=59&t=167151


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