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How To Create Contour Cut Lines for Raster/Bitmap Image in CorelDraw with Photoshop

By Luis N. Fortun

The contour cut lines are made from a raster/bitmap image that is prepared in Photoshop. The background color is stripped of the image and the edges are smoothed. The image is duplicated in another layer. The new image is created in the image layer. The original image (Contour layer) is converted into black color with transparent background. The image is enlarged to compensate for cutter inaccuracy. The file is saved in Photoshop format (PSD) with the layers preserved. The image is imported in CorelDraw. The two layers become a group of two RGB objects in a single layer. The object is ungrouped. The Black object is traced, the outline is widen and colored. The registration marks are added and finally both objects and registration marks are ready for printing and cutting.

Version: 1.0 Date: 3-5-2009

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Preparing the raster/bitmap image in Photoshop

To start open Photoshop.

Press F5 if the Brushes dialog box is not shown.

Open the raster/bitmap file. Click on Options tab to show the options of the current tool picked.

Click the foreground/background tool(small icon) to set the default colors in black and white.

The image will be placed in background and locked layer if it is opened for the first time in Photoshop Double click on the layer to change it to unlocked layer.

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The image opens with default canvas size.

Press Alt+I then click Canvas Size to resize the canvas to make room for the mask to grow. Add 0.2 to the values of horizontal and vertical input box. Click OK.

Rename the layer to Contour. Click OK.

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Canvas Is enlarged
Unselect Preserve Transparency check box if selected. Press W to select the Wand tool. Change the tolerance value in the Brushes dialogue box that is large enough to select the background but not select part of the image. The value used is 20 pixels. Click on the area of the background color (White) then press Delete. Do the same with all the areas that are big enough to cut that has background color. Such as inside text that are to be cut out.

Image with all transparent background.

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Click on the button next to Paths as shown above then select Duplicate Layer in the menu.

Rename it to Image. Click OK.

New Layer is created.

Click on Contour layer. Click on the transparent background of the image. Press Alt+S then click Similar to select all the background.

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Press Alt+S, select Modify then click Expand. Change the value to 3 pixels. Click OK. This will mask more of the image in the contour layer to reduce its size. Press Alt+S, select Modify then click Smooth. Change the value to 3 pixels. Click OK Press Delete to reduce the jaggy. The values may need changing big enough. if the clearance is not

Press Alt+S+I to invert the selection. Press Alt+S, select Modify then click Expand. Change the value to 5 pixels. Click OK. This will make the contour image larger than the image in the image layer so that there is allowance fo cutter inaccuracy. The new size of the image in the contour layer will become 2 pixels larger then the image in the Image layer.

The mask is expanded

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Press Alt+E then click Fill to open Fill dialogue box. Change the Contents color to Black. Click OK.

The image will change to black color as shown in contour layer.

The file is now ready to save.

Press Alt+F then click Save as. Click the file type in the drop down menu. Click on PSD format. Change the filename to a different name so that the original file is not overwritten e.g the word New was added to the filename. Click OK.

The images are now ready to be imported in CorelDraw to make a contour cut lines. Add the registration marks to make the image ready for print and cut.

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Editing the raster/bitmap image in CorelDraw Open a new document in CorelDraw. Setting up the docker tools and environment

The following docker tools at the bare minimum must be selected with check marks as shown on the right to create contour cut lines: 1) Properties 2) Object Manager 3) Contour 4) Transformation The tabs will be shown in the docker window that is to the right of the screen

Before getting started the docker window needs to be set so that the necessary tools for making contour cut line are in place Set the paper size and orientation that matches the image to be contoured. The image used in the illustration is in landscape and fits 8.5 X 11. Click Laout then click Page Setup. Select Letter paper size Click Landscape radio button. Click OK. The printer needs to be setup for the paper size and orientation. Click File. Click Print Setup. Select the printer to be used Change the paper size and orientation in the printer property. Click OK. The printable area is made visible as reference in placing the registration marks. To show the printable area click View, select Show then click Printable Area. The area inside the second dotted border is the printable area. Page 8

Shortcut Keystrokes

The chart above contains all the shortcut keystroke that are built in CorelDRAW X3. It will explain and give meaning to all the shortcut keystrokes that are used in this illustration. Shortcut keystroke convention: Alt+key+key+... means press and hold Alt key then one key at a time less the + character in the order that was in the list e.g. Alt+F+E Ctrl+key+key+.. means press and hold Ctrl key and the rest of the keys less + Character e.g. Ctrl+V Page 9

To start, the image is designed within Corel Draw as a vector drawing or bitmap or combinations of imported bitmap and vector images.

The name of the file of the created in Photoshop is New DraconianAB.psd as shown above. Select it then click the Import button. The image file is not included with the tutorial. The file is used for demonstration only.

Press Enter to place the image in the middle of paper space.

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Creating Contour Cut Line

The imported images from Photoshop will be placed in layer 1 as a Group of 2 Objects.

Right click on the object. Click on Ungroup.

The object will be broken into 2 RGB objects.

Click on the bottom object to select it.

Right click on the object. Select Trace Bitmap. Click High Quality Trace.

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The Trace dialogue box opens in high quality trace mode. The selected object was wrong If the image is shown in color. Change the settings of the trace dialogue as shown above. Select Delete Original Image and Remove Background check boxes. Set Smoothing to 100. Set Detail to max.

The RGB object will be replaced with groups of 2 vector objects which are the contour outlines.

Right click on the new group of 2 objects. Click on Ungroup to ungroup the 2 objects.

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Smoothing the outlie further

Right click on the 2 highlighted objects. Click on Combine to make one curve object. Right click the RGB object. Click Lock Object. Double click on the image to select the nodes of the contour outline.

Click Reduce button to reduce the selected nodes.

Change the value to 5 then press Enter.

Press F12 to open the Outline Pen dialogue box Change the width to 8 points. Click OK. If there is no spiking then skip to page 14. Otherwise do the following: Press F12. Increase the value of Miter Limit. Click OK. If spiking is still visible then press F12 again. Keep increasing the Miter Limit until spiking is gone.

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Click on the Object Manager tab.

The contour image with thicker outline for the value of 8 points with black color contour line and fill image behind the color image as shown above. To change the fill and outline colors to match the shirt color press Ctrl+A to select the outline. Right click on the color in the outline color palette that matches the shirt color. Left click on the same color in the color palette to match the fill color to the shirt color.

The image with red fill and outline colors is shown above after the red color in the palette were right and left clicked.

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Adding Registration Marks

Press F6 to select the Rectangle tool. Draw a rectangle just inside the printable area border. Click on the Transformation tab. Click the Size button. Click the Non-proportional check box to check it if unchecked. Change the horizontal value to 10.5 in the Transformation tool. Change the vertical value to 8.0 Click Apply. Center the rectangle on the paper. Click the Position button Click Relative position check box to uncheck it. Change Horizontal to 5.5 Change vertical to 4.25 Click Apply.

The rectangle is drawn inside the printable border and away from the image. It is centered Horizontally and Vertically.

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Click on the Application launcher icon (Rocket ship) then click on Registration Marks.

Change the Thickness value to .02. Click on Convert rectangle check box. Click OK.

Registration mark layer is added

The rectangle is converted to 4 registration marks.

Save the file.

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Printing the Image, Contour Cut Lines and Registration Marks.

Important: Test the contour cut lines on a standard printer paper and make adjustments before doing the print and cut on the media!
The image is printed with registration marks and the contour cut line. The contour cut outline and fill color are matched with the shirt color to hide any un-printed opaque inside and outside the cut lines. The image is mirrored for light transfer paper. Normal for opaque transfer. Skip to page 18 for opaque transfer. To mirror the image in CorelDraw : Unlock all the layers. Press Ctrl+A to select all objects. Click on the Transformation tab. Click on the Scale and Mirror button. Click the Horizontal button. Click Apply.

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Press Ctrl+P to open Print dialogue box. The warning message will show if the page orientation does not match with the printer. Click Yes.

The image above is the dialogue box for Print. The default printer is the Oki C5200n laser printer as shown above. Select the laser or inkjet printer if it is different from the brand used in this tutorial. Assuming that the transfer is opaque the image will be printed normally. Change the property for opaque media weight, select Multi purpose tray and necessary color settings . Click Apply. Click Print to print the image, contour cut lines and registration marks.

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Printing the Image and Registration in Photoshop

CorelDraw has the tendency to print raster/bitmap image darker and the color is sometimes a bit off than the original. Printing in Photoshop makes the color closer to original. To export for Photoshop all the layers must be enabled for printing. Click on the Object Manager tab. Click on the printer icon of any layer that the icon is grayed.

Export the image as a Photoshop (PSD) format. Name the file different from the original image file. Press Ctrl+E to export the image.Select the format in the drop down list. Click on PSD then click Save. Open the file in Photoshop and print it.

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Sending the image to Cutting Master 2 via Cut/Plot.

After the image is printed lay the media in a carrier sheet as shown below.

Load it in the cutter. Press enter to reset the carrier. Move the media, using up/down and left/right buttons in the cutter control panel, so that the knife is inside the first registration mark (right bottom). As shown below.

The knife location only works with registration mark scanning in Manual mode. Check the cutter user manual for Auto mode.

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Sending the contour cut lines to the cutter

Click on the Application launcher (Rocket ship). Click on Cut/Plot

Rotate button

Click on Rotate button to orient the display with the media orientation. Click Send.

The message box will appear to let the operator know to load the media in the cutter. Click OK.. The cutter will search for the registration marks then cut the media.

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Sample Cut

The left image is the cutout and the right image is the weeded is still on the carrier sheet.

media which

Closeup of the cutout. Notice non-symetrical cut of the outline due to the cutter inaccuracy.

Closeup of the weeded media that is still on the carrier sheet.

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