Friday, July 27, 2012

Blooper reel? Examples of how things can go wrong...

Maybe it's because I am trying to cram a lot of the building of pieces into a short period of time. Maybe it's because that short period of time is almost always late at night. Maybe the universe is out to get me. Here are some examples of things that I've managed to goof up lately:

Bad Printouts - Scaling Issues
I have no idea how this one happened. One evening, I decided to tackle a ton of posts. I printed out about 18 pages of posts and planned to run them through the cutter, glue and edge them all in one night. After printing everything out, I started trying to feed the first one through the cutter. The cutter found the first registration mark, but failed to locate any others. It took me a while to realize what was wrong. Somehow I managed to tell Adobe Acrobat that it should shrink images to fit the page, rather than printing the actual size. You *never* want to do this. I've printed many many hundreds of pages and have never had this option set, so I don't know how I managed to toggle it. I must have misclicked somewhere. The good news is I have refillable cheap ink tanks, and I could just flip the cardstock over and reprint everything. All I lost is time.

Bad Kitbashing Images - Too Many Layers
I typically create a ton of layers representing the textures that will be applied to walls or posts or whatever, and then have layers for the templates that turn the textures into actual TLX pieces. This works great, except when I'm tired and in a hurry. I managed to save out several post pages with multiple template layers turned on. The result was a mess of overlapping cut lines for different types of posts. This time, I lost time, more cheap ink, and a couple pages of cardstock. The other effect is the frustration of making mistakes.

Bad Cutting - Wrong Cut Files
This isn't all that unusual for me, but it reminds me that sometimes you just have to walk away and do something different for a while. When cutting the posts, I managed to feed a 4-way post page through with a 3-way post cut file. The result... well... disappointing.

Bad Kitbashing Images - GIMP mistakes
One of the layers I've got in all of my images is the kitbash template base - it's got the logo at the top and the registration marks where they are supposed to be. Apparently I managed to slide this layer over about 5 pixels. Not enough for me to even notice it while working with images, exporting them or printing them. It's not even enough for the cutter to notice, since the registration marks are in the right relative positions. However, it meant that the lines it was cutting were off by 1/16" or more. There may be some pieces where I wouldn't even care - I'd just heavily edge the piece and move on. But, sadly, this was a page of anchors for my 6" tiles. The page takes ages to cut, and I intentionally set it to double-cut on a slower speed because the blade is getting dull. It was a big waste of time and wear on the blade, as well as time wasted peeling off all the little pieces left on the cutting mat.

Bad Cutting - Page Slipping
I usually am pretty good about checking the tackiness of the cutting mat before running anything, but sometimes I estimate incorrectly. I've had one or two sheets that have shifted during cutting - just enough to really make the cuts not quite line up.

Well, those are some of the types of mistakes I've been making as I try to build up a "set" of TLX castle pieces. With each mistake, I try to learn how to be more careful. I now make sure I hold up the page to the screen showing the cut file, so I can double-check that I've got the right one. I watch the cutter to make sure it reads all three registration marks correctly. I make sure I reapply some spray mount to the cutting mat if there are any sections that aren't sticking well. I double-check the speed and other settings when I open a cut file, just to make sure it's set the way I expect.

Live and learn.

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