Standard features for electronic models

Discussion in 'Gallery & Designs' started by wunwinglow, Feb 12, 2005.

  1. wunwinglow

    wunwinglow Active Member

    Hi guys,

    some may recall we discussed, some time ago, putting together a 'standard' for electronic format models. This would make sure that print-outs would work on a wide range of operating systems, printers, that colours would stay true, parts were numbered, fold lines indicated etc. If there has been an issue with such a model that you have built recently, flag it up here. Any other ideas or comment will be welcome too! Maybe we can pt together a list of recommended features, layout, formats etc for designers to consider, to reduce any uneccessary frustration for builders.

    Tim P
  2. Leif Oh

    Leif Oh Member

    Some thoughts on file formats and print formats:

    + Standard file format: Since you want universal accessability, a main pdf-option would seem obligatory. It is platform independent, and all systems carry a pdf-reader, also available as free downloads if you wish to update.

    However, please assure when preparing the pdfs that they are of maximum or at least very high quality for reasons of scaleability. Many, like me, immediately will import pdfs into Photoshop or similar, to be able to scale, recolour, and amend details. If the quality (compression) is just adequate, scaling becomes impossible or the result disappointing. Buying a hard copy and scan & scale it on my own then is a better option. The "straight off" user will not lose out by having high quality, so it's a no-lose situation.

    Also, include a note saying that users should ensure that the printer is set to 100 percent (and not "print to fit").

    Last point on pdfs: Be sure to use the original Adobe pdf-maker ("Distiller") to create your pdf-files. In all too many cases pdf-files made from free-ware programs do not work. I've just had one such experience this afternoon.

    + Optional file formats: If there is a complement (beside the pdf main option) of formats offered, such as Photoshop and/or Illustrator, I would personally appreciate that. Those formats are also platform-independent - if you have the programmes, which is far from the case for many ordinary modelers. But those who have them surely will appreciate such an offer, on account of quality.

    + Paper formats: A4 papers are 29.7 x 21 cm. Letter size papers are 27.94 x 21.59 cm. So the logical, universal, design format would be for papers 27.94 x 21 cm, which would accomodate both paper sizes. Paper size and maximum printable areas, however, are two different things; the printable area differs from printer to printer.

    The only way to find a maximum, "universal", design area that will fit both A4 and Letter size papers, therefore is for people to conduct a simple test on their different printers. Carrying out such a test on my own Epson C80, I quickly found that the max printable area that will fit both A4 and Letter format papers is 26,3 x 20,3 cm, or 1555 x 1200 pixels [Note: At 150 dpi resolution (edited in, after Rowiacs important comment below)]. This is with a "standard" print format. If you go to "Maximum" you'll get some extra space, but why chance it?

    A tip on testing max printable area: It is not sufficient, I found, to attempt to deduct margins from the "universal" paper format calculated above; a better way is to make a picture in a graphics program the size of 1555 x 1200 pixels [at 150 dpi], select all, and make a frame for this area or fill it with black.

    Preview or print the image, for both A4 and Letter size papers, and see if everything got in (if you have a "preview" option in your graphics program the easiest way is to fill the print area completely with black; if you have to make an actual print-out to see the result, a frame is better, otherwise you can't be really sure that everything got printed). If everything didn't get in or printed (in either A4 or Letter), change the dimensions of the image until you get there for both paper formats.

    If you find that the maximum printable area, fitting both A4 and Letter formats, is smaller than 1555 x 1200 [at 150 dpi, or corresponding for other resolutions] pixels for your printer, please notify this thread of the new maximum size design area, preferably in pixels. The "universal" design area in that case has to be adjusted downwards accordingly. If designers don't get this kind of help from people with many different kinds of printers, they will never get to the desired "universal" format.

    + Advanced paper format option: If you, as a designer, include some directions (and notify buyers already on the site), I think you can and should experiment with larger (longer) formats if the model requires it (ships and large-scale aircraft come to mind). A regular inkjet printer will print formats of Letter width and almost unlimited length.

    Advice customers that they will have to buy large sheets of paper, cut it down to the correct width, and create special printing formats for those papers (easy, piecey with some helpful notes, and rather liberating once you've attempted it; see "How to make larger prints").

  3. Gil

    Gil Active Member

  4. rowiac

    rowiac Member


    Good discussion on format standardization. Here are some additional thoughts:

    Regarding a universal paper size, Fiddlers Green uses a custom page size of 7.56 X 10.50in (19.2 X 26.7cm), which allows for printing on A4 and letter size paper, plus it accounts for worst case margins on various brand printers. This way, you can put the graphics almost right at the edge of the PDF sheet and it will not end up in the unprintable margin area on the actual paper.

    Also, you have to be careful when specifying pixel dimensions of images. In the case you mention of 1555 X 1200 pixels, this works out to a resolution of 150dpi. I typically use 300dpi when I scan images for inkjet printing, so the pixel size could be higher or lower depending on what resolution is used when the image is created or scanned.


  5. Leif Oh

    Leif Oh Member


    You're right, of course you're right - what an extraordinary stupid mistake. The only good thing is that others will get an opportunity to benefit from this valuable lesson. I have entered a caveat in the original posting.

    The FG standard size seems very reasonable!

    Thanks! - L.
  6. rowiac

    rowiac Member


    It wasn't a stupid mistake at all. You have many, many good comments and bits of information in your post and I just happened to point out one little thing... :roll:

  7. lunarhighway

    lunarhighway Member

    A very interesting thread, especially since i'm working on some designs wich might get released some day.

    It may seem like something logic, but it's always a good idea to include the scale of the model on the page with the parts... usually designers mention this, but sometimes they don't and it can cause a lot of frustration... especially when you build all your models in the same scale, and you want to know how much you have to resize them.

    that's all i can think of to add right now :wink:
  8. wunwinglow

    wunwinglow Active Member

    Rather than putting a scale, 1:32, for example, put a scale bar showing a true original length in metres and feet/inches. Then if the modeller rescales the model it will still be possible to work out what the actual scale is. Alternatively, a scale line of say 5 metres true length, with a list of 'For 1:32 scale, this line should be 156.25 mm long' and for several other standard scales. The printout can then be checked and adjusted to suit.

    Tim P
  9. Kugelfang

    Kugelfang Member

    I would suggest a vertical AND a horizontal scale. That way people can easily see if they need to make non-uniform adjustments to the print out.

  10. damraska

    damraska Member

    Three things come to mind:

    Indicate fold lines using hash marks or some other symbol located outside the boundries of the part. Do not use dotted lines within the boundries of a part unless they also appear on the prototype.

    When a part contains a positioning guide for the attachment of another part, the part color should run over the positioning line. For example, if a green cockpit floor piece includes positioning lines for a seat, the green color of the floor should extend over the positioning lines or even fill the entire footprint of the seat. Often times model designers leave the area inside positioning lines completely white, but the part does not end up covering the entire area. This results in an unwanted white outline around the attached part unless the model builder colors the affected area.

    Include an extra page or area with big blocks of color matching the main colors of the subject. This allows the builder to scratch build or conduct repairs using correctly colored paper. For example, if connecting two fuselage segments results in a large seam, a strip cut from the corect color could be used to fill it.

  11. wunwinglow

    wunwinglow Active Member

    Good, problem-addressing stuff here! Keep it up! Thanks to all,

    Tim P
  12. Ron

    Ron Member

    I know it's a space waster to some but it is always my greatest point of frustration.... Is it possible, when laying out a series of perfectly arced parts (gotta be the wrong terminology here :)), to add a center point should one want to use a circle cutter? Multi-component prop spinners and old cowls would come out great like this. Since we are talking about electronic distribution, paper waste shouldn't be that huge of a consideration

    Tell me if I'm way off track here :)

  13. Gil

    Gil Active Member


    Great input! A slashed line circle on the outside of small circular parts to make positioning the punch easier and more accurate.


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