Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Designing a chapter Part 2. - Chapter Insignia

As I mentioned in my last post, the main feature of my Sentinel's ethos is the guarding of something. Based on this I chose a key to be the chapter symbol.
I made a few sketches and started working on the designs. For the best results I decided to go for a vector image, since later it will allow me to make the best quality prints.
To create this you will need a good vector editor. I used Adobe Illustrator - as I'm lucky enough to have access to it - but any editor will do, if at least EPS format can be created with it. Inkscape or DrawPlus are said to be good free alternatives. You can either create an image from scratch, find a good quality raster image and convert it into vector (needs some skill, requires quite a lot of refining) or find a suitable free vector. Free or GNU vectors are all over the internet, but I found the heraldry section of WIKImedia Commons exceptionally helpful. Most of my Bretonnial heraldry comes from there.
After a few hours of work I finished the initial design:

This might be confusing but I explain later. You may notice three main versions: the most common is the single key in a circle. This will be used by the majority of the troops. Veteran troops will use the single key in laurel wreath. Elite troops, champions and the like will use the crossed keys in laurel wreath. Also there you see the "hand of warning" symbol, that will have some significance, though I haven't yet figured out what to use it for.

The different sizes and layouts are there because this image is meant to be laser engraved into rubber. As you know I go for a professional appearance, that I could not hope to achieve with green stuff, especially not in constant quality and solid quantity given my mediocre skills. Therefore I plan to custom make my own insignia shoulder pads and the like from resin.
Laser engraving is a very cool thing and is a great prospect for the creative mind. Basically it is about moving a tiny beam of  carbon dioxide laser over the surface of the carrier material, vaporizing the unneeded parts. It cuts and engraves most materials, but ABS, acrylics and rubber are the most widely used, the later being the most common  material, due to stamp making.
I also go for rubber, for it is flexibility, which is a good thing when I attach it on shoulder pads and because of the smoother finish. Acrylic is also good, but as it is quite hard and dense, the beam makes flat parts rougher. The process is not very fast, (depends on the output of the device) a 10W machine engraved my 12x8cm design on 750 dpi in little over an hour. The printing costed about €10.

The results are good, but not great, and this is my fault; I forgot to delete swatches, and therefore the design is not as crisp as it could be. Anyway just wait to see these beauties on the side of a Rhino!
Possibilities don't stop here; on the vector graphic 16 colours can be used, and for each a different output strength and beam speed can be defined, and thus 16 different levels of engraving depths can be achieved. Quite a gradient!
More about laser engraving
If you have any experience with or cool tips about laser engraving or vector graphics, please share it with us!

Next I write about the most simple form of resin casting, and we begin to multiply these emblems.

See also:
Designing a chapter part 1. Chapter essentials


  1. Do you have a laser engraver in-house then, or is this something you farm out? The end product looks great.

    I thought you said you weren't a modeler?

  2. Of course I'm a modeler. Of sorts, at least. :-)
    Unfortunately a decent laser engraver costs around € 2-3K, and this is well over budget for most of us. Besides it is quite big and you'd never utilize it properly.
    Basically nowadays all rubber stamps are either laser engraved or use a technique where a special resin is lit with UV light which cures it, but the later is messy and much less detailed.
    If you find a place where you can have rubber stamps made, they usually take orders for replacement rubber mats too. This is what you need, only you have to convince them to print it at least 300 dpi for decent results. They usually charge by area, and don't care what you need the rubber for. One important thing is to be kept in mind: if they use the factory default setting for rubber stamps, they automatically mirror your design, so either mirror it yourself, or ask them not to use default stamp settings, but engraving settings (I recommend the later).

  3. OK I realize that I did not answer properly...
    These guys are making the laser engraving for me:
    You are unlikely to order from them, unless you happen to live in Budapest, but they are nice people, and crazy like us. Thanks Zsolt!

  4. This is a really cool article, and very helpful- it's really nice to see someone talking about some of the less-known aspects of the hobby, like casting and such. Definitely hoping to see more of this series!

  5. what font did you use for the numbers?

  6. I made them from scratch in Photoshop AI.

  7. Greetings Veghist your approach is fascinating I'm simply having a difficult time getting my size ration to shoulder pad correct. I'm creating a chapter that uses the motif of a winged lion and i can not for the life of me get it to fit on the shoulder pad. is their anyway you can post your photo-shop file for download or send it to me via email? so i can make mine the same vectors as yours. it would be much appreciated

  8. Excellent quality articles are here. This is good site with useful info.
    <a href=">laser engraving machine</a>

  9. I'd like to try this approach but the company link you posted is no longer active. Do you have any other recommendations? I've not had much luck finding someone