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Police & Fire department badges in Zaxwerks

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Steven Wills
Police & Fire department badges in Zaxwerks
on Sep 12, 2011 at 7:07:54 pm

I'm working on a small pro-bono video project for a (non-profit) organization that will fly in 3 vectored (generic) badges of a Police shield, Fire
department logo, and EMS logo, as a tribute to those who died "in the line of duty". These are local and regional officers and personnel (not 9/11) who
paid the ultimate price. This animation will be the opening video about the officer, given to each family who were left behind as a tribute.

I volunteered to help any way I could, but I think I'm in over my head. Zaxwerks is wonderful for my text and video animations I do, but
these seem to be in a million pieces, and after many days of trying, I'm reaching out for some assistance.

I have the vectored EPS logos of the police, fire & EMS logos they use, and I can convert the text very easily, but I'm having a lot of difficulity
working with the other logos to make them look like "badges". It's probably because of all the hundreds of layers (and my inexperience).
I personally would like to know "how" to make these complicated designs or, am I overlooking something I didn't read in the manual.

You can see the logo here (on the top left): http://www.supportingheroes.org
If you can assist us, please reply, and I can email you the EPS file if needed.
I uploaded the EPS file to the Cow here: http://forums.creativecow.net/thread/334/2928
(I'm using Zaxwerks version 4.5.0 on a Mac Pro, w/os x Lion, FCP7 and After Effects CS5)
Thank you all.
Steve


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Steven Wills
Re: Police & Fire department badges in Zaxwerks
on Sep 12, 2011 at 7:19:50 pm

Sorry, here's the link to the logos.
http://forums.creativecow.net/thread/334/2928

(admin: This may be in the wrong location. Feel free to move it as needed).


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Fernando Mol
Re: Police & Fire department badges in Zaxwerks
on Sep 12, 2011 at 10:56:14 pm

You may want to watch this tut.

http://zaxwerks.com/training/?p=468

I hope this helps


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Edward Wu
Re: Police & Fire department badges in Zaxwerks
on Sep 13, 2011 at 7:04:43 pm

Hi Steven,

For the 3 badges, here's what I recommend.

In Illustrator, draw just the outline of the Police Badge, the Fire Department logo, and the EMS logo. If you try to create the 3 badges using the hundreds of outlines that are on the layer, it would be impossible to work with. So, with just the outline of the logos, you can apply the texture map onto the logo shape.

After drawing the outline of the logos, crop each badge with no margins. Then save each image as an image to apply as a texture map.

Hope this helps. If you're still having issues, please let me know and I'll help you out.

Best,
Edward


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Steven Wills
Re: Police & Fire department badges in Zaxwerks
on Sep 13, 2011 at 7:27:51 pm

Thank you both for the valuable input.
It's coming along and I'm re-grouping all 299 layers (of just the Police badge), into about 15 separate groups in A.I. and it imported well into ZW it seems. Part of the problem was (is) getting the "groups" to stay together in ZW...I'm still working on that part.

After speaking to the designer of the AI file, she said she could have made my life a whole lot easier if
she had known what I was attempting, but we're past that part now. Each part (line) was hand drawn, and looks great for her print purposes, but as you well know, that doesn't translate well sometimes to Zaxwerks.

ZW has always been a tremendous program for my simple needs, but now I'm taking the plunge into much deeper water, and sometimes integrating Zaxwerks and Ai, with After Effects can be a daunting task, but well worth the time spent.

I was a little panicked (ok, a lot) when I posted yesterday, but once you break it down to the elements you need, it becomes much more manageable.

I'll keep you up to date on the progress...and thanks for the assist.


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Edward Wu
Re: Police & Fire department badges in Zaxwerks
on Sep 13, 2011 at 9:33:38 pm

You're welcome.

If what you are doing is very time consuming, try my suggestion of just tracing the Police Badge. Using the Pen Tool, you should be able to trace the outline of the Badge. You can just copy and paste the outline of the Badge into a new Illustrator file once you are finished, and import that shape into ProAnimator. You didn't mention which program you were using specifically, but based on your description, it seems like you are using ProAnimator as a standalone.

If you are using ProAnimator, to keep the shapes together, select a Transition, and under "Transition Grouping", select the command "Make Hard Group". This will force all the objects to stick together, and you should have no further issues with your objects falling apart.

Let me know if you're still running into any issues, and I'll do my best to assist.

Best,
Edward


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Steven Wills
Re: Police & Fire department badges in Zaxwerks
on Sep 13, 2011 at 10:07:06 pm

Yes, I'm using ProAnimator as a standalone.

I haven't gotten to the animation part yet since I'm still trying to keep my groups like the leaves (about 150 parts), eagle and sunburst layers etc together (but on separated layers). Right now I'm trying to move (separate) them in "z" space so I can see and identify all the elements, and give each one the details needed. Even after grouping in AI, I still have 299 elements in ZW though. My thinking is I may need to group just the parts I need in AI, then delete the others, and save them individually, and then import them into ZW. Then do it all over again with the other parts.

Since this will probably animate in from z space, I will need the layers to fly "in" by layer, so they can fly in one after the other (ie, building the badge from the back to the front). I doubt that part will be very difficult.

It's a very enlightening experience to take this on, but the only way to the top of the mountain, is to press on. Thank goodness I have plenty of time to make this...and I know it will make me a better animator for sure. Adding bevels and color etc is not a problem at all, Zaxwerks makes it very easy.
"I" just need to spend more time learning the program but in "this" area, very few even know of the program, so there is no help locally available, but it's good to know a life raft is nearby. Thank you.


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Fernando Mol
Re: Police & Fire department badges in Zaxwerks
on Sep 13, 2011 at 11:05:02 pm

A tip to simplify complex drawings in Illustrator is this:

Select the object you want to simplify (a logo)

Go to the menu >Object >Rasterize

Then, with the rasterized artwork selected, choose from the toolbar "Live Trace".

Experiment with the options until you got the look and quality you need.

Then, click the Expand button.

This is not a bulletproof technique and it works better with big objects, so you may need to do this separately for each logo.

I hope this helps


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Steven Wills
Re: Police & Fire department badges in Zaxwerks
on Sep 13, 2011 at 11:46:46 pm

Nice shortcut, and I see where it would work with larger objects....it didn't quite come out right, but I'm sure it's me being impatience. I will keep it in mind from now on. Actually, this is beginning to become somewhat fun. I'll experiment with a few other tests soon to see how I can improve the look.
Thanks!


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Edward Wu
Re: Police & Fire department badges in Zaxwerks
on Sep 13, 2011 at 11:09:43 pm

I see. If that's the case, then perhaps you create the sections where you want to pop such as the two banners and the circle with the star. This way, you would have a few sections of the badge pop, and you wouldn't need to work with 150 layers. However, if you are going to work with all the pieces of the project, it's best to isolate the objects into different layers. For example, one layer may contain the leaves, one layer contains the eagle, another contains the top banner, bottom banner, etc.

This way, you still have all the elements of your project, and ProAnimator should be able to handle the shapes if you don't have any overlapping shapes in one layer. Keep in mind that all the paths still need to be closed paths though.

You're welcome, and if you have any other questions, feel free to ask.

Best,
Edward


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Steven Wills
Re: Police & Fire department badges in Zaxwerks
on Sep 14, 2011 at 12:15:19 am

..."it's best to isolate the objects into different layers. For example, one layer may contain the leaves, one layer contains the eagle, another contains the top banner, bottom banner, etc...."

That's exactly what I'm trying to accomplish, although I'm having some difficulty getting just the "leaves"
section to come in "together" in ZW...then just the star, then the circle etc. I have been only working on one (enlarged) logo at a time to simplify things, and I believe it's the way I'm grouping them in AI (before sending it to ZW) that may be the key to my "layers" problem in ZW. I"m not sure.

So now that I'm beginning to understand this better, I think I should re-start from the beginning (tomorrow) and apply all that I have learned from (all of) you, and it might make this learning curve a lot less steep. I apologize for taking too much of your time, all of you have been more than gracious and kind.

Thank you. I'll keep you apprised.


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Steven Wills
Re: Police & Fire department badges in Zaxwerks
on Sep 14, 2011 at 8:07:10 pm

After reading all we could about AI and ZW, we have decided to give up.
It's too complicated for us.
Thanks for trying to help us though.


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Fernando Mol
Re: Police & Fire department badges in Zaxwerks
on Sep 14, 2011 at 10:52:27 pm

It's a shame. We were so close.



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Steven Wills
Re: Police & Fire department badges in Zaxwerks
on Sep 15, 2011 at 12:28:40 am

Wow. That's about all I can say.

Sorry, it's been a very flustering couple of days. I've worn myself into a frazzle and overloaded my brain. I really don't want to stop either. I want to learn this as best as I can. So let me try again. I've learned I need to "flatten" my pieces then import them into ZW 1st (I believe).

So I'll regroup, and give it another shot. I just need to read more of my AI manual and then focus on ZW more. Thanks for the inspiration, it's just what I needed at just the right time. I guess somehow you knew...

Thanks


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Fernando Mol
Re: Police & Fire department badges in Zaxwerks
on Sep 15, 2011 at 1:00:40 am

What I did was this:

Copied the badge logo and paste it in a new, clean document in AI. Then I scale it very big, almost the full page.

I render it at 300 dpi.

Used Live Trace at the default. Then I pressed the Expand Button.

Selected all the white elements and delete them. Ilustrator has a tool to select similar objects, so I selected one and asked AI to select all the elements that had the same fill color.

Saved the new document as AI, just remembering to uncheck the compression option so it can be recognized by Invigorator.

Open After Effects, created a new layer and applied 3D Invigorator selecting the Create from AI file option.

The image was messy, so I went to the options in the plug-in and review each of the elements. The last one was the big mesh. I selected it and went to the Object Options panel, expanded the Info tab and checked "Mesh". That fixed the weird fill.

I'm uploading the AE project so you can see what I did. It's in CS5.


I hope this helps


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Steven Wills
Re: Police & Fire department badges in Zaxwerks
on Sep 15, 2011 at 1:34:57 am

I will follow your instructions exactly as posted, and try this 1st thing tomorrow.

Thank you for showing me these tips. I'm sure after looking at your example, I'll be (and many others) much more proficient. Thank you for your time and the examples that could have probably been better spent with other things...like your family. I'm so very grateful & humbled by your kindness.

I'll keep you informed, and I won't give up...it was just a frustrating couple of days, and I'm
sure many of you have had quite a few of them also when you started.

You inspire me.
Thank you
Steve


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Fernando Mol
Re: Police & Fire department badges in Zaxwerks
on Sep 15, 2011 at 2:48:51 am

You may want to try a simpler solution for your project, so you can deliver it in time, but never give up on learning.

There are many ways to achieve the same thing, this is just how it worked for me this time (but it toke me some time to figure it out and it was just with one of the logos).

Edward also gave you a lot of great tips. Give yourself the time to watch all the tutorials you can find and eventually you'll be giving help to others.


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Edward Wu
Re: Police & Fire department badges in Zaxwerks
on Sep 19, 2011 at 7:22:15 pm

Hi Steven,

I'm happy to hear that you're pushing on. You have a very interesting project, so I'm hoping you're able to complete it the way you envisioned it.

As I'm thinking about the project a little more, for some of the separate pieces, you can also try going into the Pathfinder window, and using the "Add" function. This will add all the pieces together, so you don't have to worry about having to redraw any of the elements.

Fernando's idea of scaling the image up and using the Live Trace is a great idea. That should save you a lot of time in having to re-draw any of the pieces.

Best,
Edward


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Steven Wills
Re: Police & Fire department badges in Zaxwerks
on Sep 19, 2011 at 7:40:58 pm

I'm studying my Illustrator manual and working the tutorials as well as trying all these ideas in Zaxwerks.
Integrating the two effectively seems to be the next step once I get all my groupings set.
I'm keeping my eye on the prize and pressing on...
Thanks.


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