6.2. Graphics Features

Drawings in Laserworld Showeditor are vector-graphics. This means, that pictures are drawn from one point to the next one. Normal, visible points are set with a left mouse click, where blanked, invisible points are set with right mouse click.
The tools for drawing figures (already explained in chapter 4.1) are shown in Fig.25. Detailed explanation of each drawing option:

 

6.2.1. New Figure:

new figure This creates a completely new figure

 

6.2.2. UNDO:

undo “UNDO” of previous action. This makes the figure return to the state it had one step back. Providing the undo-option can be resource-intense for the computer, especially if large ILDA figures are handled, so this feature can be switched off in Options -> Others1.

undo file

Important to know about the behaviour of the UNDO feature:
Example: Ellipse is selected. 4 ellipses are drawn. Then rectangle is selected and 4 rectangles are drawn. If assuming, that the last rectangle was not placed correctly and “UNDO” is used, then ALL 4 rectangles are “un-done” - not only the last one!
So the undo feature applies to all consequent uses of the specific drawing tool.

 

6.2.3. REDO:

redo If “REDO” is clicked, the program returns to the version of the figure, as it was before the click on “UNDO”.

 

6.2.4. Poly-Line

poly line This tool allows for creating connected lines. Every click created a point which is automatically linked to the previous point by a line.
Left-click creates a visible point, right click creates an invisible (blanked) point.

A blanked point is automatically set at the position where the drawing starts at first, before the first visible point. To draw two single lines with this tool, a blanked point has to be set at the start point of the second line prior to setting the visible point, so the scanner of the laser system knows where to move without outputting laser light (blanked).

Blanked lines / points are important, as they are used to tell the scanners what position they should move to start drawing the next points. It is essential to understand that every picture that is displayed with a show laser system is created by very fast repeated drawing of one single laser beam – comparable to a pen, that has to be lifted so no line is drawn, if not every drawn object should be linked by a drawn line.

If the use of the Poly-Line tool is finished (when selecting different drawing tool), Showeditor automatically checks if an invisible end point exists. If not, a dialog box opens up asking if one should be set.

 

6.2.5. Line:

line A single line can be drawn with this tool. Only one line is drawn and start as well as end points are automatically set. A line consists of blanked start, colored start, colored end and blanked end of the line. Thus at least 4 points are generated to create the line – one visible and one invisible per end.

 

6.2.6. Point:

point This tool allows for drawing single points – which are displayed as single beams / hot beams by the laser.

ATTENTION! A single point shows as a hot beam in laser output! These single beams can be very bright! Never point hot beams towards the audience!

Laserworld Showeditor automatically creates three points when a single point is drawn: One blanked start point, the visible point and one blanked end point.

To see the points in the drawing area it is necessary to set the option “show points” in Edit.

If the option “blanking visible” is set in Options, visible points can eventually not be seen properly in the drawing area, as they may be overlapped by invisible ones.

 

6.2.7. "A":

a tool Text tool: Writing texts with lasers is a basic demand for many applications. This tool offers different options for creating text. Depending on the desired “animation” or design of the text, different procedures for the creation have to be used.

Adjustments to the text tool can be made with a right click on the A-Symbol:

Simple words and signs, not animated
To use this kind of design, the text option “Morphing Text” should be selected.

Fig.33 figure dialog
Fig.33: Figure Editor: Dialog for text options (click with right mouse button on the text tool)

After having made the appropriate adjustments, click “Close Window”. When activating the text tool with left mouse click, the new settings have effect: In the drawing area, click at the starting point of the first letter: The dialog box for entering the desired text shows up. Please confirm with OK after having typed the text.

This procedure is good if only single words shall be projected. Longer texts will be cut at their end. If longer texts should be displayed and text wrap is necessary, please repeat the above procedure per text line or use the following text creation method.

Long texts, animated -> Morphing Text
Long texts and animated texts need to be created directly in the text dialog. The checkbox “Morphing Text” needs to be checked.
Right click on the A symbol to open the Text Editor.
The text can then be entered into the text box in the left column:

Fig.34 text editor
Fig.34: Text Editor: Write longer texts here

When having entered the text, Showeditor automatically shapes the text correctly when “Create” is clicked. The continuous text is automatically wrapped in a way that not too many characters must be displayed at one – this avoids flickering of the text projection, as it doesn’t stress the scanner motors too much. When clicking “Create”, a dialog box opens asking, if the characters should morph. This effect makes the transition from one text line to the next one much smoother, as the characters seem to re-shape from the old character to the new one. So if this is a desired effect, click yes.

The Drawing Area shows the first frame of the text animation sequence. To see all frames of the figure, drag the horizontal scroll bar in the left column of the Figure Editor, just under the “Frames per Second” button. This allows for checking each frame of the figure individually.

IMPORTANT: If a text is created within the Text Editor, a New Figure is generated automatically when “Create” is clicked. This means that any changes to the previous figure, that haven’t been saved, will be erased!

Long texts, animated -> Scrolling Text
Scrolling, animated text can be created in two different ways:

A: Using the text box in the Text Editor window (Right click on the A symbol to opens the Text Editor), just enter the text and change the radio button from “Morphing Text” to “Scrolling Text”.
An additional setting is important to be made for Scrolling Text: The coordinates of the area in which the text shall scroll must be specified. The X and Y values can be directly entered in the area above the “Create” button. As it’s not easy to guess the X and Y values for the desired position, there is another option for proper positioning – see B.

IMPORTANT: If a text is created within the Text Editor, a New Figure is generated automatically when “Create” is clicked. This means that any changes to the previous figure, that haven’t been saved, will be erased!

B: To create a running text without the need to enter X and Y coordinates for the scroll-area definition, first settings in the Text tool options should be checked for being set to “Scrolling Text” (Right click on the A symbol to opens the Text Editor). Then do not click on “Create”, but just close the window. Again select the text tool (“A”) with a left click and then draw the scrolling area by click and drag in the drawing are. The text-entry dialog opens and the scrolling text can be entered. This method is the most convenient one, and used in most cases.

IMPORTANT: As this method does not use the Text-Editor for the creation of a multi-frame figure, but uses the direct text feature of the Figure Editor, existing frames are not erased and no new figure is created on using the tool. Due to this it is possible to display several running texts in one figure - even different scroll speeds per scrolling text line are possible!

Special Characters handling
Special characters may not be displayable with the desired font. As there are many different characters possible, the Text-Editor comes with an additional drawing area for special characters. The Character can be entered (or copy-pasted) into the input box and then the visible points as well as blank points for this very character can be drawn – and saved. If they have been saved, it is possible to use this special character within the text as if it was possible to display it with the very font – the Text Editor will substitute the special character (which didn’t display properly before) with the hand drawn one.

Fig.35 text characters
Fig.35: Text Editor: Special Characters can be copy-pasted to the input box and then be redrawn manually in the drawing grid

 

6.2.8. Rectangle:

rectangle The rectangle tool allows for drawing rectangular shapes. The rectangles consist of a blanked start and a blanked end point as well as a visible point in every corner, connected by lines.
Select the rectangle tool, click at the desired position in the drawing area and drag the shape to the desired size.

 

6.2.9. Polygon:

polygon Polygons are multi cornered shapes with equally long sides. With a right click on the icon the number of corners can be set. To draw the polygon, click at the desired position in the drawing area (this will be the center of the polygon) and drag the shape to the desired size. On releasing the button, the dialog to enter the number of overlapping edges opens.

If the default value is accepted, virtually 2 overlaying polygons are created. The advantage of this is that the polygons are drawn in a “closed” way and the intensity of the shape appears homogenous.
However, if the “morph” feature shall be used on the polygon, it could be better to set the number of overlapping edges to zero.

Information:
Polygons and circles can look very similar if a Polygon has very many corners. The difference of a polygon and a circle is the multiple repetitions of the corners in a polygon, dependent on the output optimization. Circles have no repeated points. A polygon with about 100 corners without optimization looks very similar to a circle.

 

6.2.10. Ellipse/Circle

ellipse The Ellipse/Circle tool is used for creating Ellipses or circles as a special form of an ellipse. With the tool selected, click in the drawing area at the desired center point of the ellipse, hold and drag
The points drawn per ellipse can be set with a right mouse click on the icon. A dialog opens (Fig.36), values between 7 and 40 are possible. Smaller numbers mean more points, meaning the feed rate uses smaller steps.

Fig.36 figure settings
Fig.36: Figure Editor: Dialog settings for ellipse tool

Important:
Points of ellipses (circles) have very special characteristics. The lines between the points are not optimized (interpolated) on laser output. Therefore it is not a good idea to just delete half of the points to get a half ellipse. To make a half ellipse it is better to set the color of one half of the points to black and thus make them invisible.
Furthermore the points of an ellipse should not be moved, as this could lead to very large drawing distances – which can destroy the scanner system!

In case such adaptions need to be made, it is better to use a polygon with about 50 points. The optimization method for the dangerous points can also be changed with a click on the Wrench Tool -> change properties of points. For more information see the description of the wrench tool (see Chapter 6.3.6.).

 

6.2.11. Freehand:

freehand By using the Freehand Tool, lines can be directly drawn with the mouse (or other drawing input sources like drawing tables). Blanked points are automatically added to the start and the end point of the freehand line.

Fig.37 figure editor dialog
Fig.37: Figure Editor/Painting Tools/Freehand: Dialog to set up freehand parameters.

This tool was developed to allow for the creation of complex figures, e.g. if pictures shall be redrawn. Easiest use is with a drawing tablet.

A click with the right mouse button opens a dialog (Fig.37) for setting the tool specifications. The drawing type can be specified (corner-, line- or circle-points) as well as the distance- or time value for the drawing of the points.

Left mouse button, right mouse button:
These values refer either to distance if drawing is made with clicked left mouse button, or to time, if drawing is done with clicked right mouse button.

 

6.2.12. Bezier:

bezier Bezier curves can be describes as “bent lines”. This is quite a mighty feature, however it requires the user’s capability to imagine how the initial drawn line modifies to the bent curve. A Bezier curve consists of a drawn line and two control lines. Both control lines are used for “bending” the drawn line – this can happen in four coordinates.
The two control lines are shown in red, where the drawn line appears in the selected color. Of course the control lines are not visible in the figure, but are needed for proper drawing.

Draw the Bezier line:
1. Select the tool (left mouse click on icon)
2. Draw the first control line (defines starting point) – it will NOT be visible, but it’s position and angle defines the left part of the line
3. Draw the second control line (defines end point) – this one will be visible now, as well as the first control line. Plus the drawn line becomes visible as well.
4. A dialog opens asking if a blanked end point should be set. Choose “yes” in case there should be a blank between the Bezier’s end point and the next line/point. Select “no” if the next line/point should continue the line after the last Bezier point.

Fig.38 bezier settings
Fig.38: Bezier settings

Important: It is very important to understand the 4 coordinates of the two control lines, as there are more ways of using Bezier curves. To change those options, right click on the icon. The dialog shown in Fig.38 opens.
Different settings, like the Bezier type, the point rate or point density can be specified.

Bezier Type:
The 3-point-Bezier is a special form of Bezier, where the two control lines have one point in common. This slightly changes the drawing procedure described previously.

Please try the tool out to get to know this special behaviour of the Bezier tool.

Point Distance:
The point distance defines the number of points drawn to create the curve. The difference between “density of points” and “number of points”:
“Number of points” means that every Bezier curve consists of the same number of drawn points. This is of advantage if the curve shall be morphed later.
“Density of Points” means that the number of the actually drawn points depends on the length of the curve.

The option “last point of figure will be start point” allows for seamless drawing of several Bezier shapes. Please test this feature to learn about the behaviour.

 

6.2.13. Separator:

seperator The Separator Tool can be used for separating a line between two points by adding an additional point in between. For using the tool, select the Separator Tool. Then choose the color for the new point. Click on the target point of the line that shall be separated and hold the mouse button. Drag (still hold the mouse button clicked) the cursor to the position where the new point shall be inserted.
Supporting lines help in anticipating the result. With releasing the mouse button the point is inserted at the defined position.

Tutorial Video: The Figure Editor, First Steps