Beginners guide to 3D text

Curved Text

Curved text onto flat surface
The first simple curved text is manually positioned which works fine for Deluxe and Pro, this can either be done by ‘eye’, or the angles calculated depending on how critical the spacing is, once in position simply extrude or give thickness.

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For TC pro users the text can be bent using the bend sheet tool, the text should be sized to match the reference arc length however consideration must be given to where it will be bent as this will vary depending on the text, in this example the centre of the text is ‘o’, therefore it doesn’t have a flat area needed to bend.

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Here the ‘d’ has a flat area so this can be used as the bend point, as with any bend one needs a bend line shown green. If no suitable flat area is available then one would need to temporarily ‘add’ a box, which can be removed later by subtracting a slightly larger box.

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The bend was then carried out using radius 14 mm (radius of arc) and angle 120 degrees,

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Other methods (discussed later) include graphic along path for mono-spaced fonts, and the to path tool (new in v2016), One thing not discussed at present is the add-on menu - special tools - text along curve, this is due to it being non-operational on the testers computer at the time of writing.

Text onto Curved surface
The most simple method is to extrude (or thickness) text into 3D to create the curved text, so although this method has its problems we’ll start with that.

In (1) below the text is extruded or given thickness as previously discussed, the curved object is just a cylinder cut in half with a smaller cylinder subtracted, now it needs something to intersect with, so another half cylinder if produced, with its thickness the same as the thickness of the text required (red item in (2) below), the text was moved so it is fully through the red item.

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The next procedure is to intersect the text with the red object, note if the text has been exploded into separate letters then select the red object and create copies in place equal to the number of letters, (3) below shows the result (note text has not been added to the base object), the reason I said at the start that this causes problems can be seen in (4), if selected for blending there are a large amount of nodes that have to be considered due to the original text being a polyline.

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To get round this problem it is better to create the text with curves or arcs using convert to curves / arcs or drawing from scratch as discussed previously, this will provide clean edges and allow blending easier as shown below, (the text below was converted to curves).


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The next problem with this method is the shape of the text, the picture below show how the text appears after intersecting because of the curved surface the text is elongated on the curve, on large curved surface or small text this may be acceptable and almost un-noticeable, but where it becomes a problem a different approach is needed.

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There are numerous ways of achieving the same result, here is just one method, the basic approach is to angle the text so it points towards the centre of the curved surface, start with the text reasonably close to the required intersect object (in red below), and vertical ‘dotted’ line drawn from the centre of the text. From this move the letter closer to the object as below.

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The for this exercise a circle was drawn where the inside of the text would be, and also boxes were drawn the width between each of the original text characters, these were then angled towards the centre of the circle for guidance.

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Next the text / curves were moved to just inside the circle and angled towards the centre on the circle using the boxes as a guide to the distance apart

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The curves / text were the extruded (with compound profile turned on) so that they will be proud of the intersect object (in red), when extruding the ’e’ select the outer curve, hold down the shift key and click the ‘hole’ curve, this should extrude it as a single object without needing the hole subtracting.

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In the picture below one can see that this method doesn’t elongate the text as it does by simply extruding the flat text (shown in red)

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Graphic on path

One procedure which in certain circumstances would be viable is to use the Graphic on Path tool, however it has drawbacks in that it only really works on specific text. The theory is to produce a single letter, which is then replicated using the tool, which creates copies (sets) along a curve / arc path, the path should be minimum diameter required, then using selection palette, each letter is simply changed to the required one.

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The profile (letter) will be copied along the path by its ‘z’ axes, this means the text is rotated and requires each letter rotating back by 90 degrees, the main problem using this method with many fonts is that the letters are not equally spaced, so when using this tool the letters will appear badly spaced. spaced, as in the Arial font below.

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Where this is a viable solution is with mono-spaced fonts like ‘Courier’, this text lends itself perfectly to getting the text nicely spaced, and by rotating back 90 degrees the text if aligned for extrusion.
To use this method for example on the word TurboCad, first select the path (in this case an arc) and read its length in the selection palette (20.4 mm), divide this figure by the number of spaces (7 = 2.914), type in the first letter ‘T’, select the graphic along path tool, select the letter, on the inspection bar type in the number of sets (8), in the distance type in 2.91, activate the button ‘set start point’, and click the line.

Select each letter in turn, rotate by 90 degrees and change the letter using selection property palette - general - Info, and finally give each letter a thickness.

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The actual order in which the above can be carried out is variable and down to personal preference.
As previously stated there are many ways of achieving similar results, there is no right or wrong way, whatever procedure you gaet to work is the right one for you


continued on page 6




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Contributors to this page: AndyUK and jrsollman .
Page last modified on Thursday 07 of April, 2016 15:36:55 PDT by AndyUK.