Difference between revisions of "Digitizing"
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'''Embroidery Digitizing''' is the art of taking a logo or any graphical image and converting it into digital points that can be read by an embroidery machine. Generally, a digitizer ''digitizes'' an embroidery design using a computer software program tools to plot these points. The points are then converted into stitches by the software and then saved to an [[Embroidery software formats|embroidery software format]] which the embroidery machine can process. The final embroidery file tells the machine in which direction to move the frame for each stitch. Digitizing a design is an essential part of modern machine embroidery.
'''Embroidery Digitizing''' is the art of taking a logo or any graphical image and converting it into digital points that can be read by an embroidery machine. Generally, a digitizer''digitizes'' an embroidery design using a computer software program tools to plot these points. The points are then converted into stitches by the software and then saved to an [[Embroidery software formats|embroidery software format]] which the embroidery machine can process. The final embroidery file tells the machine in which direction to move the frame for each stitch. Digitizing a design is an essential part of modern machine embroidery.
[[File:threads_es_screenshot.jpg|small|right|alt=Threads Digitizing Software Program|[[Threads Embroidery Software|Threads Digitizing Software Program]]]]
[[File:threads_es_screenshot.jpg|small|right|alt=Threads Digitizing Software Program|[[Threads Embroidery Software|Threads Digitizing Software Program]]]]
Latest revision as of 16:32, 18 October 2013
Embroidery Digitizing is the art of taking a logo or any graphical image and converting it into digital points that can be read by an embroidery machine. Generally, a digitizer digitizes an embroidery design using a computer software program tools to plot these points. The points are then converted into stitches by the software and then saved to an embroidery software format which the embroidery machine can process. The final embroidery file tells the machine in which direction to move the frame for each stitch. Digitizing a design is an essential part of modern machine embroidery.
An Embroidery Digitizer is someone who takes an image or a graphic and converts that image or graphic into embroidery stitches using a digitizing software package. A digitizer has tools in the software that allow them to create many different types of stitches.
Less commonly, a digitizer might just be referred to as the embroidery software or embroidery computer program.
for a looser definition on the general term Digitizing see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digitizing
Before embroidery machines were run by computers, all embroidery was done by hand by moving the garment manually as the needle moved up and down creating the stitch. Around the late 1970s Embroidery Machines were then equipped with X and Y motors which moved the garments left and right and back and forward. The X and Y movements were controlled by software programs also known as digitized designs or digitized logos.
Once the digitizer had their design taped to the table, they would use the puck to start plotting each stitch one by one. The puck looked very similar to a computer mouse with cross hairs and many more buttons. A digitizer might place the puck at one point of the design, then click a button, then move the puck again and click the button again. Each time the digitizer clicked the button on the puck, a stitch was made. During the early years of digitizing, the tablet was directly connect to a paper tape punch machine. The paper tape looked like a roll of masking tape or something similar but was only paper. Each time a stitch was made with the puck the paper tape was immediately punch a hole. These punched holes would tell the machine which way to move the X and Y axises before placing the point. If the digitizer made a mistake with their stitches, they would have to physically find the holes on the paper tape that corresponded to those stitches and tape them up and then re-punch new holes with a paper tape hole punch device. The paper tapes were also the only copy of the design available. Computers did not have storage space and floppy disk were not yet affordable. If the paper tape was lost or damaged, then the design would be lost and the digitizer would have to re-digitize it. These paper tapes were usually labeled and stored away for future use. Sometimes the term punching or punch a tape might be used to refer to the act of digitizing. This term now is generally only used by the people who have been in the embroidery business a long time.
At the very beginning of the commercial digitizing era in the 1970s and very early 1980s, most all embroidery digitizing was sent directly to the embroidery machine manufactures (Japan, etc) and was very expensive to have done with long wait times as long as weeks. Due to high demand digitizing companies started appearing in the USA. A complete digitizing station with software, tablet, etc at one time was as much as $100,000. Therefore there were only a few digitizing companies around the USA employing many artists, digitizers, etc. As prices of digitizing equipment slowly dropped, many embroidery companies began doing their digitizing in-house.
Today, most all digitizing is done on-screen. On-screen digitizing has since replaced the tablet. Digitizers can now just load their images on screen and zoom in and out as needed. They no longer need their artistic counterpart to enlarge and redraw the logo. Software prices have since drastically dropped and a lot of digitizing software is illegally pirated. Unfortunately since then there has been a huge increase in poor quality embroidery sew-outs. Digitizing is an art form. Before a digitizer begins to digitize a logo, they must plan the entire design out in their heads. Much like a game of chess, the digitizer much know exactly where they want to start embroidery and where they want to end. They must plan how to control the movement of the machine to create the least amount of stitches to have the machine embroidery at optimal speeds. This is referred to as Production Digitizing and is more of an old art form usually only practiced by digitizers who have been digitizing for a long time.
Automatic and Manual Digitizing
Some embroidery software packages have Automatic Digitizing features. Automatic Digitizing is the act of taking a computer graphic image and converting it to stitches automatically. Traditionally the stitches are created manually on the computer software, plotting each point in the same direction or same steps that the digitizer would want the machine to run. Automatic digitizing software will automatically plot all the points by vectoring the image. What this means is that the automatic digitizing software will look at the graphic and attempt to find common shapes such as boxes, rectangles, and curves. For example, the letter T generally is made of 2 rectangles. One rectangle goes up and down and another one goes to the left and right. Automatic digitizing software will attempt to find these shapes and then process them into stitches. A digitizer who is manually digitizing an image will do the same thing. As humans we can easily recognize these basic shapes. If a digitizer is manually digitizing an image, they will tell the software where all these points are at by manually plotting all the points. For example, a box, square or rectangle has 4 points one in each corner. Once these basic shapes are plotted or 'digitized', the software can fill them in with stitches.
Automatic digitizing also does not do any kind of artwork modifications. When using automatic digitizing software, the artwork must be as clean and as 'embroidery ready' as possible. Anything too small for embroidery will need to be enlarged or removed with a graphics program before processing through the automatic digitizing software. Because automatic digitizing software does not enlarge or remove sections too small for embroidery, the final embroidery product might have many areas with large blobs of stitches. Sometimes the time needed to clean the artwork and then edit the final automatic produced file takes longer than it would just to digitize the design from scratch manually.
Its highly recommended that a legitimate embroidery company find or outsource their digitizing work to a professional with many years of digitizing experience or hire someone with graphic arts skills and train them to become a production embroidery digitizer. The final embroidery digitized file can possibly make or break an embroidery company. Its not recommended to rely solely on automatic digitizing software programs.
Most any embroidery machine that is in tune will embroider a good quality digitized file without problems. However, even the best embroidery machine in the world will struggle with poor quality digitized files. For one time items auto digitizing might be fine but for embroidery going on several garments and for profit, manual digitizing is the only way to go.
Production Embroidery Digitizing was very big in the 1980s and 1990s but with the advent of new software programs and with the low cost to get into digitizing, most digitizer do not produce production embroidery designs. It is now very easy for anyone to become a digitizer and therefore quality suffers. The difference between a good digitizer and a bad digitizer is usually if they can produce production embroidery or not. Because most embroidery is done over and over its best to have the design digitized for production embroidery to cut back on time to embroider and thread breaks.
Unfortunately with most digitizing done outside the USA, it is hard to find digitizers who digitize for production embroidery. It is usually recommend to test out about 5 different digitizers to see which one can digitize the same design with less thread breaks, less trims, less stitches and overall the digitizers who digitize designs that embroidery the quickest. In the long run a good production digitizer can make or break an embroidery company. Automatic digitizing is still not at the Production Embroidery level.
Closest Point Letter
Closest Point Letter is lettering that is optimally digitized so that trims are not needed between each letter. The letters are embroidered so that the last stitch of one letter is the closest stitch to the next letter. Usually the spacing between the two letters is so small that the stitch is not noticed. Closest Point Lettering is usually the best to use when digitizing for Production Embroidery.
Digitizing for caps can sometimes be difficult. A logo digitized for a cap is digitized differently than any other garment. A 6-panel cap has 6 different panels that make the dome of the cap. In the middle of the cap is usually a seam not found with 5-panel caps. This seam can be difficult to digitizers because too many stitches on top of the seam causes thread breaks, needle breaks, and just poor final quality. Also caps tend to buckle in the center. When digitizing for caps, a digitizer usual has to start digitizing their logo from the center and then work their way out to the sides. This will keep the cap from buckling up.
Puff 3D Embroidery
Puff Embroidery is a type of embroidery where the embroidery looks raises. This effect is usually done with foam. Special digitizing and embroidery techniques are used to crease Puff 3D Embroidery
Pre Digitizing Checklist
The following information is needed by a digitizer to ensure that your embroidery designs are digitized to be the most efficient running and highest quality for Production embroidery. The majority of poor quality designs and thread breaks start at the digitizing process.
- Include clean artwork of ACTUAL IMAGES of what you want digitized. If you do not have the actual image, a cheaper and quicker alternative would be to look online for predigitized designs. Provide the digitizer with the cleanest artwork provided, preferably a vector image. If you know the original font names that will help.
- Include actual sizes of the embroidery design needed. 2 different sizes of designs usually need to be digitized completely differently meaning 2 different sizes are 2 different designs. A jacket back design will not shrink down to a cap logo with even the most expensive software available. A lot of points must be added or removed by hand by the digitizer.
- Let the digitizer know exactly what type of garment or material the design will be embroidered on. For example 6 panel caps are usually digitized completely different than for pique shirts or for denim jackets. The digitizer needs to know this information so they know if they should increase or decrease stitch density, etc.
- Include exact color counts or exact color scheme. If the design artwork has 2 different colors of blue but each color of blue should be the same, the digitizer should know ahead of time. This information may allow the digitizer to digitize the design in a manner that will sew much quicker for Production Embroidery. If the design will be embroidered in different color schemes then the digitizer should also know this ahead of time to allow for multiple color charts.
- If a design is copyrighted or trademarked then an authorization letter must be provided by the owner of the artwork authorizing the embroidery work and digitizing to be done.
Most embroidery software programs come with Automatic Lettering. Automatic Lettering should not be confused with automatic digitizing. Automatic lettering is usually predigitized fonts that have been digitized by experienced digitizers and come with the software package. These are usually safe to use and have been digitized for Production Embroidery. The only downfall of Automatic Lettering is that most lettering is digitized for around the 10MM height size. When enlarging or shrinking the lettering far beyond its intended purpose might cause lots of thread breaks, and/or poor quality. Some embroidery software programs come with several different size versions of the same font. Some embroidery software programs also allow users to modify or create new automatic fonts.
Types of stitches
Some common terminology when talking about embroidery designs or parts of embroidery designs.
- A trim stitches
- A normal stitch of thread with a needle penetration into the garment on each end
- Column Satin
- Also know as a satin stitch or zig-zag stitch.
- A large area filled with stitches all running parallel to each other
Digitizers Disease is a common joke term for a digitizer who has been working too much. In the tablet days of digitizing the computer would make a beep each time a button on the puck was pressed. After pressing the buttons on the puck all day long and listening to the beeps, a digitizer might still hear beeps ringing in their ear after work. Especially when they were working in rooms with several other digitizers all digitizing on the same tablet systems. Thanks to advancements in computing, digitizers can now mute their speakers.
Digitizers also know when they have Digitizers Disease when they start seeing normal shapes or logos in day to day life and think of the optimal ways they would digitize the logos for Production Embroidery.
- Jen's Originals - What does it mean to digitize a logo or design for embroidery?