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1st message | this message only posted: 30 Aug 2010 02:38
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Martin Wynne
West Of The Severn, United Kingdom



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Dear all,

My computer graphics skills are minimal. :(

This is my best effort to represent a country goods shed with office extension, internal platform and awning over the loading doors. As you can see, it won't win any prizes:



I saved it as a GIF image with transparent background.

And this is what it looks like inserted on the sketchboard as a bitmap item. I rotated it into line with the track, stretched it to the correct size, and gave it a little transparency to show the internal track:



Now such objects can be drawn directly on the sketchboard with vector precision if desired.

But it would be great to have a selection gallery of such clip-art items ready to just pick and place. Station buildings, engine sheds, signal boxes, water towers, cattle docks, coal drops, trees, etc. In a variety of sizes and attractive styles, perhaps some based on real locations.

What's fairly clear is that I'm not the one to do the drawings!

Can you do better? You can't do much worse than me. :)

You could post them here in this topic via the image gallery. They need to have transparent backgrounds, so GIF format is the best option. If you keep them within 800 x 600 limits, they won't be resized on uploading and won't lose the transparent background. About 500 - 600 wide is probably about right.

Of course you have to be willing to waive all rights, so that anyone can use them. If I use any directly within the Templot program, I will make sure you are properly credited.

Thanks for any help.

regards,

Martin.

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2nd message | this message only posted: 30 Aug 2010 08:01
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Stephen Freeman
Sandbach, United Kingdom



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Creating graphics isn't a problem (except for lack of time) you just need a suitable program to do it. I use Serif Drawplus. One question what is Sketchboard?
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3rd message | this message only posted: 30 Aug 2010 09:56
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Martin Wynne
West Of The Severn, United Kingdom



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Borg-Rail wrote: Creating graphics isn't a problem (except for lack of time) you just need a suitable program to do it. I use Serif Drawplus.Hi Stephen,

I think there is more to it than that! I have the latest version of DrawPlus, several CAD programs, Impict image editor, and many other programs in which to create graphics, including of course Microsoft Paint.

But making graphics which look attractive and inviting needs something more than just the tools. I can give you a nice blue rectangle with a thick red border and a big green dot in the corner. :)  

One question what is Sketchboard?Sketchboard is a new feature coming in the next Templot pug included in Templot2.

It's a separate mini drawing package within Templot, customised to use track plans from the trackpad in a colourful full layout design. For control panels, exhibition guides, web sites, signal box diagrams, wiring diagrams, etc.

It doesn't compare with a full graphics drawing package, but on the other hand it is interactively linked to your current track plan design on the pad, so that you can develop both together.

Sketchboard is based on a desktop publishing component developed by Nils Haeck in the Netherlands. I have kept it as an independent function, so that Templot users who have no interest in such things can ignore it entirely. If you don't click the Sketchboard button you will never see it.

It's still work in progress, but here are a couple of preview screenshots:








regards,

Martin.

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4th message | this message only posted: 30 Aug 2010 12:50
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JFS
United Kingdom

 

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Hi Martin,

I think you are too hard on yourself - if you were to look down on the roof of a real goods shed / loco shed / whatever, it would look pretty boring also - these things only look "interesting" if seen as a 3D image I suspect

The only improvement might be to tweak the colours - is there a re-colour image button? Apart from that, I think
what you already have is more than fit for purpose.

Perhaps you might create a gallery where if anyone creates a new image, it could be uploaded for sharing.

Best Regards,

Howard.
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5th message | this message only posted: 30 Aug 2010 14:10
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Brian Nicholls
Poole, United Kingdom



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Martin Wynne wrote:  If you don't click the Sketchboard button you will never see it.Hi Martin,

Please tell me, where is the ‘Sketchboard’ button to be found ? :?

Best regards.

Brian Nicholls.

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6th message | this message only posted: 30 Aug 2010 14:22
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from:
Martin Wynne
West Of The Severn, United Kingdom



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Brian Nicholls wrote: Please tell me, where is the ‘Sketchboard’ button to be found ? :?er, Brian,

I wrote:
Sketchboard is a new feature coming in the next Templot pug. :)

Martin.

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7th message | this message only posted: 30 Aug 2010 16:28
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from:
Paul Boyd
Loughborough, United Kingdom

 

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Howard wrote:
these things only look "interesting" if seen as a 3D image I suspectPlease, sir, can we have 3D Templot? :D
Perhaps you might create a gallery where if anyone creates a new image, it could be uploaded for sharing.That's a very good idea.  The same "rights waiving" would need to apply, but in my professional life I make good use of user galleries ( eg 3D Content Central) for 3D PCB design because I'm useless at making my own graphics.  A user library somewhere on the Templot site does get around the problem, doesn't it?

Cheers



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8th message | this message only posted: 30 Aug 2010 16:39
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from:
Martin Wynne
West Of The Severn, United Kingdom



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JFS wrote:The only improvement might be to tweak the colours - is there a re-colour image button? Hi Howard,

There are two ways to add drawings on the sketchboard page.

1. You can draw directly using the sketchboard controls. The Engine Shed in this view was created that way.

This way you can create coloured rectangles, circles, and lines, similar to the existing background shapes functions -- but much easier to adjust, stretch, rotate, combine, items. It's tedious to add fine detail using this method, but very easy to change colours, line thicknesses, etc. Such drawings are vector graphics, so they don't break up as you zoom in on them. Such drawn items can be shared as .sk9 files.
 

2. You can add a bitmap image created elsewhere in a full drawing package such as DrawPlus or CorelDraw. The Goods Shed in this view was added that way.

This way makes it easier to create fine detail, add gradient fills, textures, shadows and similar effects. Once added to the sketchboard such an image can be stretched and rotated, made transparent, etc., but there are no controls to change the colours or details. Depending on the size of the original image, it may break up as you zoom in over it. Such drawings can be shared as normal image files, usually in .gif format for ease of making the background transparent.





There is then an option to have the sketchboard items displayed back on the workpad. In this case they are the other way round, they are behind the track layer instead of being in front of it, so transparency effects don't show:



Most of the time you won't want to do this because it has a significant effect on the screen response speed for zooming and panning while doing track design, but it's useful at times to see how things will fit.
 
Perhaps you might create a gallery where if anyone creates a new image, it could be uploaded for sharing. I created this topic as somewhere to post images for sharing, either via the existing Image Gallery or as attachments for .sk9 files. If there is sufficient response I can later rearrange them into a convenient web page or dedicated gallery.

regards,

Martin.

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9th message | this message only posted: 2 Sep 2010 21:55
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TonyHagon
Near Wick, Caithness, United Kingdom



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Ah Martin... Sketchboard: a superb addition to an already great program! Looking forward to the PUG.
You have probably realised that there is a whole new opportunity to create signal box diagrams, and to create a library of e.g. typefaces that the individual companies applied to the diagrams. The scaling facilities in Templot make it a doddle to size the diagram to fit the control panel.

Best regards
Tony Hagon
(using Templot 12 miles from John O'Groats)
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10th message | this message only posted: 7 Sep 2010 06:29
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istvan.david
 

 

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Martin!

When can we excpect the next PUG version? Maybe this year? :)

br,
  István


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11th message | this message only posted: 15 Sep 2010 13:56
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Brian Nicholls
Poole, United Kingdom



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Martin Wynne wrote: Dear all,

My computer graphics skills are minimal. :(

But it would be great to have a selection gallery of such clip-art items ready to just pick and place. Station buildings, engine sheds, signal boxes, water towers, cattle docks, coal drops, trees, etc. In a variety of sizes and attractive styles, perhaps some based on real locations.

What's fairly clear is that I'm not the one to do the drawings!

Can you do better? You can't do much worse than me. :)

You could post them here in this topic via the image gallery. They need to have transparent backgrounds, so GIF format is the best option. If you keep them within 800 x 600 limits, they won't be resized on uploading and won't lose the transparent background. About 500 - 600 wide is probably about right.

Of course you have to be willing to waive all rights, so that anyone can use them. If I use any directly within the Templot program, I will make sure you are properly credited.
style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #f8fcff"Hi Martin,
First let me say, that I think it is an excellent idea to create a library of shapes for your program Notebook, and I am willing to help in anyway I can.
I have attached a sample GIF file of a fictitious water tank scaled at 4mm to 1 foot, that I knocked up last evening.
This is not of anywhere in particular, but is just to show you what can be done in a simple drawing package.
I will also post a sample of the same building but in Bitmap format, so that you can see just how much colour and detail is lost using GIF format.
I can if you wish do such drawings for the group, but would need to be given appropriate line drawings, including what scale to be drawn, of required objects and any colour details that can be given in order to make the object look something of interest, and as realistic as possible, when placed on the layout plan.
I mention scale because, I am not quite sure if you intend to make the objects scalable or only at fixed scales.
I hope the above is what you are looking for.
Best regards.
Brian Nicholls.


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Tank_drawing-2.GIF
 
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12th message | this message only posted: 15 Sep 2010 13:59
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Brian Nicholls
Poole, United Kingdom



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Hi Martin,

Heres the bitmap file of the same tank building.

regards,

Brian Nicholls.

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Attachment: Tank_drawing-2.bmp (Downloaded 272 times)
 
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13th message | this message only posted: 15 Sep 2010 17:23
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from:
Martin Wynne
West Of The Severn, United Kingdom



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Brian Nicholls wrote:
First let me say, that I think it is an excellent idea to create a library of shapes for your program Notebook, and I am willing to help in anyway I can.

I have attached a sample GIF file of a fictitious water tank scaled at 4mm to 1 foot, that I knocked up last evening. This is not of anywhere in particular, but is just to show you what can be done in a simple drawing package.

I will also post a sample of the same building but in Bitmap format, so that you can see just how much colour and detail is lost using GIF format.

I can if you wish do such drawings for the group, but would need to be given appropriate line drawings, including what scale to be drawn, of required objects and any colour details that can be given in order to make the object look something of interest, and as realistic as possible, when placed on the layout plan.

I mention scale because, I am not quite sure if you intend to make the objects scalable or only at fixed scales.

I hope the above is what you are looking for.
Hi Brian,

That's great! :) Many thanks indeed. That is just the sort of thing I was thinking of. :thumb:

There need be no significant loss of colour or detail using the GIF format if you choose a suitable resampling method. Here I created a GIF from your BMP file using the "Optimised Octree" method, with no error dithering:



The great advantage of the GIF format is that it makes it easy to create transparent backgrounds, which are not possible in a BMP file. GIF is also a very much smaller file for download.

In theory PNG also offers transparency, but not all programs support transparent PNGs.

The objects can be stretched/deformed to any scale and rotated as required on the sketchboard, so there is no need to make a fixed scale. All that is need is a note somewhere of the design size. The best place for this is probably in the file name where it can't get lost, perhaps water_tank_20x20ft.gif or some such.

Here I have added your tank to a track plan. I stretched it to 30ft x 20ft (setting 120mm x 80mm on the sketchboard for 4mm scale) and rotated it to suit the tracks. This is the workpad view:





Which I think is brilliant. :) Many thanks Brian for taking the trouble to do this.

If we could have a library of GIFs of this calibre available to sketchboard* users, I'm sure we could see some really attractive track plans being produced.

(*The option to include multiple pages in a single file was making things far too complex. I have decided to limit the program to one page per .sk9 file, so I have therefore renamed the sketchbook function as sketchboard.)

regards,

Martin.  

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14th message | this message only posted: 15 Sep 2010 19:40
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Brian Nicholls
Poole, United Kingdom



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Hi Martin,


First let me say, you are very welcome and I was happy to do it, and I might add, there will be more to come.
I am very pleased that you experienced no problem with conversion and dithering, because when I did the first drawing of the tank, when it came to the conversion to GIF, the image ended up with patchy rings of differing solid colours, instead of the nice gradual shading change. However, realising what was wrong and, a slight change of tack, I produced the second image which when converted, appeared to be OK.


BTW, I can if required produce the images in any format you wish: PNG, GIF, BMP, PDF, TIFF. However, it would seem the requirement is for GIF format, so that’s what will be provided.


The image does indeed look great on the workpad view, and as you say, if we can get more of the like we should see some nice looking track plans in the future.


One point I would like to stress is, I think when people do draw any images, it is advisable they should, where possible draw to scale, particularly if the drawing is of an actual real life site and for true scale modelling, such as P4, S7 etc. The reason I say this is, because when you, as you put it, stretch the image in only one direction, then any fine detailing within the image (such as windows/skylights and chimneys, ventilators and even roofing slates/tiles) will stretch pro-rata in that direction only and hence be out of true scale and may end up looking distorted.
However, if the image is stretched bi-linearly (or to be more correct bi-cubically) then scaling, and all included detailing, will be changed pro-rata in all directions and will remain correct for the final required size (if you get my drift).
On the other hand, if scaling is not a factor, then it will not matter for that particular individuals usage.


As far as notes are concerned, regarding scale and size, I think I will continue to add my scale ruler and scale notes at the edge of the image, these can then be ‘Cropped’ out when the object is required for use on a track plan, one can use any image handling program for this, I believe even ‘MS Paint’ will do this, and every Windows PC has that on-board. And as you say, it’s a good idea to have the original size of object in the file tittle to preserve the information.


I promised to produce some further images of various objects, hopefully this time for real (not fictitious) objects, when I have consulted my books. :)


If there is anything specific wanted, then again I state, I will need line style (outline) drawing or sketch with, preferably some dimensions written on it (so that I can scale it).
I very much look forward to seeing ‘Sketcboard’ on my PC in the near future, I can then give it a real testing. :D


Best regards.
Brian Nicholls.

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15th message | this message only posted: 16 Sep 2010 07:56
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from:
Martin Wynne
West Of The Severn, United Kingdom



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Brian Nicholls wrote:BTW, I can if required produce the images in any format you wish: PNG, GIF, BMP, PDF, TIFF. However, it would seem the requirement is for GIF format, so that’s what will be provided.Hi Brian,

Thanks for your further thoughts.

Sketchboard can add bitmap items in any of these file formats:

BMP, GIF, PNG, JPG, HCK.

It is important for non-rectangular objects that the background can be made transparent. Otherwise such objects would be displayed on a rectangular image patch.

This means that only GIF and PNG are the real options, and sketchboard supports transparent backgrounds for both of these formats. In theory PNG is better because it can support transparency with full colour, whereas GIF is limited to 256-colour format. In practice not all image editor programs support transparent PNGs (so users might have trouble editing them if needed), and 256 colours is more than adequate for our purpose. So GIF is the best all-round format for distributed image files for use on sketchboard.

But the obvious file format to use for a library of objects will be sketchboard's own SK9 file format. These files can contain multiple items, and can include captions and other text explanations, scalebars, etc., as separate items which do not need to be cropped from the image object before use.

In addition, objects can be combined to create more complex items, including native sketchboard vector graphics items in combination with bitmaps. There is a separate copyboard window in which SK9 files can be opened, and from which individual items can be copied and pasted onto the sketchboard itself.

Here for example I created a combined item comprising your water tank and my scruffy goods shed as raster bitmaps, and I added on a cattle dock which was created as a vector graphic in sketchboard itself:




This combined item was copied and pasted onto the trackplan in sketchboard, and scaled and rotated as a single item. Here is the view back on the workpad:




One point I would like to stress is, I think when people do draw any images, it is advisable they should, where possible draw to scale, particularly if the drawing is of an actual real life site and for true scale modelling, such as P4, S7 etc. The reason I say this is, because when you, as you put it, stretch the image in only one direction, then any fine detailing within the image (such as windows/skylights and chimneys, ventilators and even roofing slates/tiles) will stretch pro-rata in that direction only and hence be out of true scale and may end up looking distorted.Sketchboard items can be set to preserve the aspect ratio, or not, as an option when scaling to a new size. As you say, for a drawing of a real object it would obviously be better to turn this on to preserve the correct relative sizes. If items are distributed as SK9 files, this can be turned on in advance in the file, for each item as required.

As far as notes are concerned, regarding scale and size, I think I will continue to add my scale ruler and scale notes at the edge of the image, these can then be ‘Cropped’ out when the object is required for use on a track plan.If images have to be cropped before use I feel this will significantly detract from their ease of use as a library of objects ready to be added to the sketchboard. However, if they are distributed as SK9 files, the notes and captions can be separate items which are excluded when copying and pasting onto the sketchboard. See for example the caption to your water tank above.

Many thanks again for offering to provide these drawings. I look forward to seeing more of them. Now that you have made a start perhaps others will be encouraged to add their own too. :)

regards,

Martin.

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16th message | this message only posted: 16 Sep 2010 17:50
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Brian Nicholls
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Martin Wynne wrote: It is important for non-rectangular objects that the background can be made transparent. Otherwise such objects would be displayed on a rectangular image patch.Hi Martin,

Thank most kindly for the very detailed response.

It looks to me if ‘Sketchbord’ is becoming quite versatile in what can be done, the more I read of it, the more I like it.

I now also understand the reason for transparency of the required image.
But the obvious file format to use for a library of objects will be sketchboard's own SK9 file format. These files can contain multiple items, and can include captions and other text explanations, scalebars, etc., as separate items which do not need to be cropped from the image object before use.

If images have to be cropped before use I feel this will significantly detract from their ease of use as a library of objects ready to be added to the sketchboard. However, if they are distributed as SK9 files, the notes and captions can be separate items which are excluded when copying and pasting onto the sketchboard. See for example the caption to your water tank above.
Here, part of my reasoning for the need for ‘Cropping’, was not only to remove any unwanted (as far as the image is concerned) notes or labels, but was to include the requirement when individuals needed to join similar images, such as the cattle dock you mention. Here it may be required to say, double or triple the number of ‘pens’ or change the formation of the pens that the cattle dock has. To use a fixed library image for this would mean one would have to ‘crop’ out, on one of the images, the unwanted fencing on the sides where the joined images occurs.

As I would view it, most people would prefer to (and most likely will) use the library images, to save time, work effort and because they may not have the aptitude or skill to produce reasonable looking images of their own (in a nutshell, this is what and who the library would be for). If cropping is not acceptable, then the solution would have to be to produce sets of library images that can be successfully and un-noticeably joined. In the case of the cattle dock pens, I estimate that some six (6) or eight (8) variation images of the pens with fencing removed from various sides, could provide full flexibility irrespective as to the number and formation of pens required. (it’s something like the old fashioned Meccano set, you pick the right bits to make what you want). The important thing is that the bits are there to choose. Needless to say, I am very keen on the idea of a library system where one can easily choose items, to build, and to make a layout plan look really interesting without the need of having any high level artistic skills.

In addition, objects can be combined to create more complex items, including native sketchboard vector graphics items in combination with bitmaps. There is a separate copyboard window in which SK9 files can be opened, and from which individual items can be copied and pasted onto the sketchboard itself.

Here for example I created a combined item comprising your water tank and my scruffy goods shed as raster bitmaps, and I added on a cattle dock which was created as a vector graphic in sketchboard itself:
It is strange you mentioned Vector Graphics, I was thinking along those lines a few days ago.
Having used XtrkCAD (sorry for the profanity) a couple of years ago, and having made up ‘Structure’ parameter files in plain text format (for the numbers that is) I wondered if this could be applied to ‘Sketchboard’, as it would not be to difficult to write such files.

However, the downside of using such files is you cannot (or to be truthful it would be very, very difficult to do) get graduated highlight or shading for the fill colours of the objects, only solid colours can be defined. The reason for this is that part of the parameter file is a six digit number which defines the colour that fills completely that particular part of the object which is defined between the corresponding X – Y co-ordinates within the file. If the object is made up of several ‘blocks’ X – Y co-ordinates, then each of those blocks could have a different colour, but again, only a solid colour can be defined.

I will add a vector graphic parameter file I did a few days ago, I don’t know what program you have that will open this file, but if you have XtrkCAD (there I go again blaspheming) it will certainly open in that program. (see what you think).

I think the screenshots you have posted look really good and does give one a sense of the possibilities of 'Sketchboard'

I have posted another image file, this time of a real railway item, believe it or not, it is of a cattle dock !!
This image is of a Midland Railway cattle dock circa 1900 but was used well into the 20th century.
The pens are made of timber, and the real life size of this object is 30 ft by 15 ft, I have also included a concrete border of 3 ft at 4mm scale surrounding the pens. This border apparently varied from site to site, so have chosen an arbitrary value.

The prototype pen post’s are made of 8” x 8” timber, whilst the fencing and gates are of 3” x 3” timbers. The floor is of concrete, with drainage ducts impressed in the concrete, leading to a centrally located drain.

I am a little concerned that the conversion, has not quite performed in the same way my previous image, so will send a .BMP file as well, also will send a PDF file which shows clearly what the image should look like (or how it finished up having being drawn).

I am still keen to help out with the library images and will produce what and when I can.

Best regards.

Brian Nicholls.

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Brian Nicholls
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Hi Martin,

Heres the bitmap file of the same cattle dock.
regards,

Brian Nicholls.

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Brian Nicholls
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Hi Martin,

And heres the PDF file of the same cattle dock.
regards,

Brian Nicholls.

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Brian Nicholls
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Hi Martin,
Here is the vector graphics file I mentioned.
I am not sure what program you have to open the file, but,
If you have XtrkCAD on board, to open the file just right click the file and select ‘OPEN WITH ..> and from the list you get select XtrkCAD, the file should then open OK in XtrkCAD.
regards,

Brian Nicholls.

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Hi Martin,

Not sure that the bitmap file of the same cattle dock made it through the transmission, so will send it again.
regards,

Brian Nicholls.

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Martin Wynne
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Brian Nicholls wrote:I am a little concerned that the conversion, has not quite performed in the same way my previous image, so will send a .BMP file as well, also will send a PDF file which shows clearly what the image should look like (or how it finished up having being drawn).Hi Brian,

What drawing program are you using? Your GIF conversion is dithering the image instead of converting to the nearest colour, and for some reason the dithered effect is replicated in the BMP and PDF files.

I've taken the liberty of doing a bit of work on the file, to create this plain colour GIF:



I changed the dithered background to a plain concrete colour and blurred the edges of the 3ft hard standing. I added 4ft all round the pens to give an image size of 38ft x 23ft. It is this dimension which a user needs in order to scale the image on the sketchboard, not the dimensions of the object it contains.

So I saved this file as cattle_dock_image_38ft_x_23ft.gif , setting the surrounding 1ft margin as transparent.

Here is the result on the sketchboard. 38ft x 23ft
at 4mm scale is 152mm x 92mm, so those are the dimensions I used to size the image:




Here is the result back on the pad. I switched on the ruler tool to check that the actual pens have ended up at the correct size:



The blurred surrounds haven't worked out too well, but better than a hard edge.

Many thanks again for doing this, the detail on the posts and gates is brilliant. You have even included the strap hinges and fixings! :)

If you say which program you are using we can perhaps sort out the dithering problem.

regards,

Martin.

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Martin Wynne wrote: What drawing program are you using? Your GIF conversion is dithering the image instead of converting to the nearest colour, and for some reason the dithered effect is replicated in the BMP and PDF files.

If you say which program you are using we can perhaps sort out the dithering problem.
Hi Martin,

Thank you for your comments in the last response. :thumb:

First let me say, to draw the objects I use the program MS Visio 2003, which I find quite good to measure accurately and draw objects quite quickly, also it has a very good, and reasonably accurate ruler system, similar in nature to that in Templot. The program is very easy to use, and as stated above, you can produce drawings very quickly.

One of the drawbacks of the program is the colours are limited and does not contain the full spectrum, however, there are sufficient colours available to create a reasonable looking object drawing for display purposes.

The major drawback, which is I think related to the dithering problem, is that the file produced by Visio can only be read by MS Word or any of the MS OFFICE programs and in addition Paint.
What I have had to do is to copy the file from Visio into Paint then save as either GIF or BMP as required, I believe, this is where things are going wrong with the colour.

I have Adobe Photoshop CS2 on board, but it will not even look at the Visio files, I have to convert them first then I can enter them into Photoshop for any post work on them.

I am trying to find another way around this problem of file compatibility, but so far have drawn a blank.
Regarding the initial drawing phase, I have just recently bought a second-hand copy of Autocad in a sale from a closure at a local industrial office site, but I need advanced ‘driving’ lessons to use it !! so I have to continue with Visio for the time being (it is quick to use though).

Regarding the dithering, I must find a way of directly converting the files into the required outputs, if you have any suggestions, I would be most grateful for any advice so that the finished objects will look good and, save any post working on them by either of us. Incidentally, I am sorry it is causing you some extra work, you have enough on your plate as it is.

I would really like to clear up this problem of dithering and colouring.

Incidentally, I did add slight patterning on the pen floors imagery to try and create a more realistic concrete affect.

I've taken the liberty of doing a bit of work on the file, to create this plain colour GIF:


The image details look quite good when shown in Sketchboard and workpad, my only comment here is, did someone use ‘custard’ to mix the concrete :D  the flooring does look a little too yellow, otherwise, it’s great.

Many thanks again for doing this, the detail on the posts and gates is brilliant. You have even included the strap hinges and fixings! :)As to the detailing of the post’s and fixings, well isn’t that what it’s all about !!
 
You have a superbly detailed track design program in Templot, why not carry that detailing through to the support program ‘Sketchboard’.

Ah well back to the drawing board. :)

All the best.

Brian Nicholls.

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Hi Brian,
I would really like to clear up this problem of dithering and colouring.I suggest that you download a copy of Irfanview -- it's free. :)

From:  http://www.irfanview.com

I modified your tank drawing to illustrate a non-rectangular image with transparent background.

1. save from Visio in BMP format.

2. then open the BMP file in Irfanview.

3. and click Save As...

This is the Irfanview screen:


4. select to save in GIF format and view the options dialog on the right.

5. on the options dialog, set the GIF options to save in transparent format and to choose the transparent background area. When you click Save, you are invited to click the area/colour which is to be made transparent, like this:



6. I clicked the white area top left. Any area of white colour anywhere in the image will then display transparent.

Here's the result:




The image details look quite good when shown in Sketchboard and workpad, my only comment here is, did someone use ‘custard’ to mix the concrete :D the flooring does look a little too yellow, otherwise, it’s great.I thought it was too light -- I don't think the floor of a cattle pen stays white for very long!  :)

regards,

Martin.

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Martin Wynne wrote: I suggest that you download a copy of Irfanview -- it's free. :)

From:  http://www.irfanview.com

I modified your tank drawing to illustrate a non-rectangular image with transparent background.

1. save from Visio in BMP format.

2. then open the BMP file in Irfanview.

3. and click Save As...

4. select to save in GIF format and view the options dialog on the right.

5. on the options dialog, set the GIF options to save in transparent format and to choose the transparent background area. When you click Save, you are invited to click the area/colour which is to be made transparent, like this:

6. I clicked the white area top left. Any area of white colour anywhere in the image will then display transparent.



Hi Martin,
Many thanks for the info, I will certainly give it a try, perhaps you have finally solved the problem, by the look of your result it certainly seems like it. :thumb:


I thought it was too light -- I don't think the floor of a cattle pen stays white for very long!  :)


I was considering being really authentic and putting some cow dung in, but thought better of it. :D

I am just about two thirds through completing a large long signal box that was at Eastbourne, should be ready by tomorrow, if not sooner.


All the best.
Brian Nicholls.

 

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Hi Martin,
Have finally managed to complete the signal box image that I promised.

Had to go out all day yesterday (Saturday), however, on the bright side, went to a market and found a stall full of model railway stuff, couldn’t resist, bent the wallet a bit and bought a few things.

I have attached a sample GIF file of the signal box scaled at 4mm to 1 foot.

I will also post a sample of the same signal box but in BMP format.

The image is of the signal box that was at Eastbourne, the box was built by Saxby & Farmer around the1880s or 1890s, for the LBSCR
The proto signal box was a very large long building and was also mounted very high up (unusually so).
The steps had, some 24 treads, from the ground level to reach the cabin platform, quite a climb for the signalman.
I will post a sample sketch I used to scale and draw the box.
The Eastbourne box closely resembles the old No. 5 signal box at Birmingham New Street, except, the New Street box is much closer to the ground, with a much small set of steps to reach it.

Regarding the GIF ‘Sketchboard’ image of the signal bow, I have put some paving at the steps end of the image, just to fill in the empty space, this I might add, is a bit of ‘artistic licence’ on my part as I am not sure what the original site was like and have no photographs as a guide.

A little bit of data for those who are interested;
Measured and estimated proto dimensions of the Eastbourne signal box are shown below:
Length of cabin outside wall to wall, not including the roof overhanging eaves  =  53ft 4in
Width of cabin outside wall to wall, not including the roof overhanging eaves  =  14ft 6in
Overall length of box including the roof overhanging eaves, not including steps  =  57ft 0in
Overall width of box including the roof overhanging eaves    =  18ft 0in
Height from ground to signal box cabin platform (top of steps)    =  18ft 6in
Overall height of signal box from ground to ridge of roof, not including flue pipe and ventilators  =  34ft


BTW, I think I have now sorted out the problem with the conversions without having to download the program you suggested, it was all down to finger trouble on my part.
The attached files should verify if all is well.

Best regards.

Brian Nicholls.

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Heres the bitmap file of the same signal box.
regards,


Brian Nicholls.

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And heres a GIF file of part of the sketch I used to draw image.

regards.

Brian Nicholls.

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bainin
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Hi,
Don't know if this will help, but it's free!
This comes from a recent newsletter:

Kill White is a plugin (for Windows) that makes white color in an image transparent.
http://mikes3d.com/extra/2010/07/kill-white/

I haven't had a chance to use it yet. I assume it supports Photoshop, PaintShop Pro and probably other programs that can use PS-compatible plugins.

Mike
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Martin Wynne
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Brian Nicholls wrote: Regarding the GIF ‘Sketchboard’ image of the signal bow, I have put some paving at the steps end of the image, just to fill in the empty space, this I might add, is a bit of ‘artistic licence’ on my part as I am not sure what the original site was like and have no photographs as a guide.Hi Brian,

That's great! :thumb:

The colours look much better without the coarse dithered effect.

I'm pleased I started this topic if it is going to result in a library of sketchboard graphics of this quality. :)

There is no need to provide features to fill any empty space, the idea is to make such areas transparent. That's why we are using the GIF format. (The paving looks very attractive, but I don't recall ever seeing such expensive work outside a signal box.)

Here is your image cropped to the bottom of the steps, and with your paved area made transparent instead:




Here is the view of that in my graphics editor -- transparent areas are normally shown as a grey chequerboard effect:




Here is the view on the sketchboard. The image scales to 73ft x 18ft, so I set it to 292mm x 72mm in 4mm/ft  scale. I rotated it so that the steps are facing the station in the usual way, and the stove-pipe is at the rear of the box. I added a patch of rough ground colour to illustrate the transparent effect:




Here is the same, back on the workpad:



regards,

Martin.

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Martin Wynne wrote:The colours look much better without the coarse dithered effect.

Here is the same, back on the workpad:
Hi Martin,

Thank you for your comments in the last response.

I must say that does look really good on the ‘workpad’, I’m glad it turned out that way.
It seems the problem I had has now been resolved, and this should not give you so much post work to do on any future images I produce.

The only minor concern I had with the latest image, was that the roof slates are just a ‘tad’ blue and should have been a bit more grey. Maybe I will correct it on the next version.
 
There is no need to provide features to fill any empty space, the idea is to make such areas transparent. That's why we are using the GIF format. (The paving looks very attractive, but I don't recall ever seeing such expensive work outside a signal box.)

Here is your image cropped to the bottom of the steps, and with your paved area made transparent instead:
Incidentally, point taken about the transparency, I will curb my ‘flare’ and leave well alone, I did have some reservation about the paving, but it did seem to enhance the steps and make them a little more prominent.

I have one or two things up my sleeve to try out, in particular I intend to do a small version cabin signal box which is (or was), I believe, the most common type of it’s day (I have one in mind), this should then be useful for the more rural type of layouts (although having said that, New Street had four smaller cabin signal boxes as well as the much larger No. 5).
 

I'm pleased I started this topic if it is going to result in a library of sketchboard graphics of this quality. :)Regarding the quality question, we all strive for perfection, I think it was Walt Disney who said “if we can dream it, we can do it”, I think he was absolutely right.

Sketchboard, should be a great additional aid to Templot, and with a good stock of library images, it should make life much easier for everyone using it, so lets keep up the good work.

Ah well, it’s all grist for the mill, as they say.

BTW, did you want me to re-submit the cattle dock image now that the problem has been solved ?

Best regards.

Brian Nicholls.

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Martin Wynne
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bainin wrote: Don't know if this will help, but it's free!
This comes from a recent newsletter:

Kill White is a plugin (for Windows) that makes white colour in an image transparent.
http://mikes3d.com/extra/2010/07/kill-white/

I haven't had a chance to use it yet. I assume it supports Photoshop, PaintShop Pro and probably other programs that can use PS-compatible plugins.
Hi Mike,

Thanks for that. I looked at the site, but unfortunately it all rather went over my head. :(

It seems to be concerned with blending bitmap overlays, rather than providing a transparent alpha channel in the final output file.

What file format is it intended for? Sketchboard can use only JPG, GIF, PNG formats, and only the latter two can be displayed with a transparent background.

regards,

Martin.

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Martin Wynne
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Brian Nicholls wrote:I must say that does look really good on the ‘workpad’, I’m glad it turned out that way.Hi Brian,

It can look equally good on the sketchboard, the user can change the resolution settings to suit. It's the usual trade-off between image quality and response speed, and the graphics capabilities on the user's system.

Here are a couple of sketchboard views at higher resolution (with the tracks in "detail" mode):







And a zoomed-in pad view:




regards,

Martin.

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Brian Nicholls wrote:I have attached a sample GIF file of the signal box scaled at 4mm to 1 foot.Hi Brian,

I'm a bit mystified by what you mean there? :?

GIF images don't contain any real-world dimensions and can be stretched/shrunk on the sketchboard to any size the user desires.

Obviously the original prototype has some real-world dimensions, and these are the only ones which can be referenced with any meaning. For example your signal box is 73ft long over the steps, and 18ft wide.

You have been drawing your GIFs at 15 pixels per prototype foot, which is fine.

But may I suggest that others wishing to join in adopt a slightly smaller scale of 12 pixels per foot, which is conveniently 1 pixel per inch? This should make drawing from the original much easier -- or at least it would for me. :)

For more modern prototypes, a scale of 40 pixels per metre could be used instead, i.e 1 pixel per 25mm.

Scaling at this order of magnitude produces a good level of detail as you have demonstrated, and for typical structures produce images which can be conveniently displayed here at full size. For example a building 50ft by 25ft at 12 pixels per foot would be an image 600 x 300 pixels.

These are just suggestions, as images at different scales can be mixed and re-sized on the sketchboard. But if they are all drawn to a similar original scale, a more harmonious result is likely.

regards,

Martin.

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Hi Martin,
The KillWhite plugin looks to me like a quick way of turning all the white elements in a pic (including gif/jpg) transparent. I don't understand all the alphawhatever either, but it seems to me the plugin could help, particularly because I've have trouble getting transparency to work properly in the past. I still have to test it, but I like the idea of simply drawing without worrying about transparency, then running a plugin to fix it.
By the way, I'm not the Mike who made it!
Regards,
Mike

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Martin Wynne wrote: Hi Brian,

It can look equally good on the sketchboard, the user can change the resolution settings to suit. It's the usual trade-off between image quality and response speed, and the graphics capabilities on the user's system.

Here are a couple of sketchboard views at higher resolution (with the tracks in "detail" mode):

Hi Martin,


You have caught me out with two postings, been a little bit busy today.
In response to the former, I must say that does now look really good in both ‘workpad’ and ‘sketchboard’, that’s some blow-up you have demonstrated. It’s great stuff !! :thumb:

Brian Nicholls wrote:I have attached a sample GIF file of the signal box scaled at 4mm to 1 foot.I'm a bit mystified by what you mean there? :?

GIF images don't contain any real-world dimensions and can be stretched/shrunk on the sketchboard to any size the user desires.

Obviously the original prototype has some real-world dimensions, and these are the only ones which can be referenced with any meaning. For example your signal box is 73ft long over the steps, and 18ft wide.


Regarding your comment about scale of the GIF image, I should have written;


 “I have attached a sample GIF file of the signal box, which was drawn to a scale of 4mm to 1 foot”.


I think they call it, ‘a slip of the pen’ (only in this case it’s a keyboard input, or lack of). :D



You have been drawing your GIFs at 15 pixels per prototype foot, which is fine.

But may I suggest that others wishing to join in adopt a slightly smaller scale of 12 pixels per foot, which is conveniently 1 pixel per inch? This should make drawing from the original much easier -- or at least it would for me. :)

For more modern prototypes, a scale of 40 pixels per metre could be used instead, i.e 1 pixel per 25mm.

Scaling at this order of magnitude produces a good level of detail as you have demonstrated, and for typical structures produce images which can be conveniently displayed here at full size. For example a building 50ft by 25ft at 12 pixels per foot would be an image 600 x 300 pixels.

These are just suggestions, as images at different scales can be mixed and re-sized on the sketchboard. But if they are all drawn to a similar original scale, a more harmonious result is likely.

Regarding your pixel resolution of my images, I am a little lost here, sorry I do not recognise the statement of 15 or 12 pixels to the foot, resolution is and has always been referenced to pixels per inch.  :?
I have, so far, been drawing ‘object pictures’ to a scale of 4mm to 1foot whatever the subject. I do this because it gives the correct perspective of the object, and as stated before, if ‘stretched’ or ‘shrunk’, should maintain that perspective.
Also it is a reasonable size scaling to be able to get some decent detailing in. As you may be aware, in the graphics technical world, most drawings are done to a much larger scale to get the detail, then reduced in size for the finished article.
Once drawn, I then save the file as a GIF and/or BMP image directly as an output from Visio. It is only at this point does pixel resolution of the image come into the equation, the GIF images have, up till now, been saved at 96 x 96 pixels/in, which is the standard default of Visio.

I have put a screenshot of the GIF save screen, with the default settings shown.

 GIF_Screenshot-1

I will put a second screenshot of the same save as GIF, but with the pixel options button clicked, highlighting the standard settings.

 GIF_Screenshot-2

As stated above, I have been saving at a matrix of 96 x 96 pixels/in, which is the standard default of Visio, from what you say, you would like me to save at 72 x 72 pixels/in (or to be more precise as calculated 76.8 x 76.8), personally, I think this is quite a drop in resolution, some 25% drop and when blown-up as you demonstrated, you will see a marked difference (much more ‘grainy’).
The problem I have is, also being a fairly keen photographer for many years, it is instilled in me as from the older days, to get quality, you should use finer grain film, and in the modern digital world, you should use more pixels/in.

These are just suggestions, as images at different scales can be mixed and re-sized on the sketchboard. But if they are all drawn to a similar original scale, a more harmonious result is likely.

Here, I think the word ‘DRAWN’ should be replaced by ‘SAVED’ at a fixed pixel ratio.

If you like, I can try an experiment on the signal box and save at 72 x 72 pixels/in to see what the result would be.
But bare in mind, the size of the drawings can vary even if all are scaled at 4mm to 1foot, therefore the number of pixels saved will vary, however, the resolution will stay the same irrespective of size of drawing if all saved at the same pixel resolution.

I am not sure what the premium is on RAM or disc space regarding images used in Sketchboard or workpad, but would not have thought a 25% larger pixel count (over your recommendation) would be a problem. :)

Hope this all makes sense to you.

Best regards.

Brian Nicholls.

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And heres the other screeshot of the GIF save, with option highlighted.

Regards.

Brian Nicholls.

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37th message | this message only posted: 20 Sep 2010 21:23
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Martin Wynne
West Of The Severn, United Kingdom



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Hi Brian,

Thanks for your explanation. Unfortunately I don't have Visio, so it's all rather baffling to me. :?

Your signal box is 18ft wide on the prototype. The image file which you supplied is 272 pixels wide.

Therefore you are working to a scale of  272 / 18  =  15.1 pixels per foot.

How you arrive at that in Visio is up to you, but the results are excellent so please carry on. :)

If I was going to try something similar I would want a more convenient scale, and I suggested 12 pixels per foot as an obvious choice of 1 pixel per prototype inch. Admittedly that's a reduction of 20% from your scale, but I think for our purpose it would still be plenty adequate. Perhaps go to 18 pixels per foot (1.5 pixels per inch) for a really detailed item.

Maybe even 24 pixels per foot, but we want the finished image files to display conveniently here in Templot Club and preferably via the Image Gallery rather than as attachments. That means 800 pixels as a practical maximum, which at 24 pixels per foot would limit the prototype item to 33ft only.

The amount of cache memory needed is determined by the sketchboard rendering resolution which the user can set for himself. This affects only the sketchboard screen view, not the printed output or the view back on the workpad.

Here are some example screenshots showing that:

Sketchboard with internal rendering set at 150 DPI:



Sketchboard with internal rendering set at 600 DPI:



Sketchboard with internal rendering set at 2540 DPI:



After doing some testing I have now changed the default to 2540 DPI (100 DPMM). That's a lot higher than Nils recommends, so I'm waiting for some feedback from him about any potential problems this may cause. As far as I can determine it's working fine.

regards,

Martin.

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38th message | this message only posted: 20 Sep 2010 23:56
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Brian Nicholls
Poole, United Kingdom



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Martin Wynne wrote: Your signal box is 18ft wide on the prototype. The image file which you supplied is 272 pixels wide.

Therefore you are working to a scale of  272 / 18  =  15.1 pixels per foot.
Hi Martin,

Thank you for the detailed explanation, I now understand where you are coming from regarding the pixel resolutions of 12 and 15 per foot. I never really thought of it in that way before, and to be truthful I never bothered to look at the file dimensions since I considered them all to be within the bounds of the requirement.

However, from what you say, does give me some concern in the event that I produce a drawing of a very large building that might exceed the required pixel dimensions, such as a multi-road, multi-parking engine shed, I shall have to watch that. But in the event, I may be able to draw to the usual scale and then shrink down the drawing before I save to file, my only concern here is shrinking to a precise scale size, but we will cross that bridge when the time comes. :?

I must admit it’s an education to even begin to be able to understand your dilemmas and problems with, in particular, all the work you put in.
 
How you arrive at that in Visio is up to you, but the results are excellent so please carry on. :)I will carry on as you suggest, to some degree, I am enjoying the challenge, there will be more to follow. :thumb:
 
The amount of cache memory needed is determined by the sketchboard rendering resolution which the user can set for himself. This affects only the sketchboard screen view, not the printed output or the view back on the workpad.

After doing some testing I have now changed the default to 2540 DPI (100 DPMM). That's a lot higher than Nils recommends, so I'm waiting for some feedback from him about any potential problems this may cause. As far as I can determine it's working fine.
I must say, you are working to a very high resolution for rendering, but the results are excellent, and well worth ‘stretching’ the program a bit. I hope it keeps on working satisfactorily ad-infinitum (I shall have to curb my Latin, after all, it is a dead language). :D

I think this topic is becoming quite an eye opener and education for all the club members, it certainly has been for me. Also it is nice that one can get involved in helping make things look better and become easier to use once you have launched ‘Sketchboard’.

Another concern I have is, I am drawing the right objects, :? what I mean here is, that are the objects of real use to others, since I don’t know the fine detail of what other members are modelling. What I may think is a reasonable thing to draw, may not be suitable for other members to use, it may be the wrong period, the wrong railway company equipment, the wrong type of structure or even something that has not been drawn before. What would be useful is some form of feedback from members as to what they think should be added to the library, after all, they are the ones that will be using it and will want to make their layout look good, and perhaps be the best in show. Also it may help them in the sense that others may be looking about for the correct information they require, it’s surprising what others stumble onto when least expected, which can then be passed on.

Best regards.

Brian Nicholls.

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39th message | this message only posted: 21 Sep 2010 13:41
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from:
Brian Nicholls
Poole, United Kingdom



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Hi Martin.


I was intrigued by our messages yesterday regarding the pixel dimensions, so needless to say I had to have a go and see what could be done.

After re-calculating, I came to the conclusion that around 76 x 76 pixel matrix should be about 12 pixels per foot.
In actual fact the calculated number turned out to be:

 76.235294117647058823529411764706

Which stacks up pretty well with what I said yesterday.

A ridiculous number to work with, however, I found I could save GIF files from Visio within three (3) decimal places of a pixel believe it or not, obviously the program on completion of the conversion does round up to the nearest full pixel.

I therefore, did another copy of the signal box image and saved at 76.235 x 76.235 pixels/in, which gave me a file width of 216 pixels, and if you do the sum 216/18 = 12 spot on

Now I chose the signal box file because you had already done an enlargement of it as a demonstration yesterday, so would you be kind enough to investigate (in particular enlarge to the same degree) this latest attached file:

 Signal_Box_Large-EBN-2X. GIF

And see what the enlargement is like with the reduced resolution of some 20 odd percent.

If everything is OK with the new file and resolution is acceptable, I can then provide future files at the same resolution, which is what you would prefer.

Best regards.

Brian Nicholls.

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40th message | this message only posted: 21 Sep 2010 16:15
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from:
Martin Wynne
West Of The Severn, United Kingdom



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Brian Nicholls wrote: And see what the enlargement is like with the reduced resolution of some 20 odd percent.

If everything is OK with the new file and resolution is acceptable, I can then provide future files at the same resolution, which is what you would prefer.
Hi Brian,

I didn't actually say I would prefer it -- I want you to do whatever you are most comfortable with. :)

I suggested 12 pixels per foot as a suitable scale for anyone else wanting to join in the fun and wondering where to start.

The images on the sketchboard don't have to be created all at the same scale, as each one can be sized as it is added.

Thanks for the new image at 12 pixels per foot. I extended the image outline length slightly to 888 pixels, to make it a round figure 74ft x 18ft (888 x 216 pixels at 12 pixels/foot).

I also changed the roof colouring to tiles instead of slates, so that we don't get confused about which one we are looking at. :)

Here are a couple of views on the sketchboard:







And on the workpad:




There is some detectable reduction in quality, but not much. It still seems excellent for the purpose. :)

I have been working on the code today and changed the internal resolution setting so that it is now set automatically according to the sketchboard page size, the model scale, and the output factor from the pad. I have based it on 18 pixels/foot, so that any drawing less than this will always display at full available detail when zoomed in far enough. Drawings at more than 18 pixels/foot will lose some detail regardless of the zoom setting.

regards,

Martin.

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