Friday, 2 February 2018

How I design and make sunglasses

Have you missed me? Yeah, I've missed you too.
How about we jump right in with a post on how I design and make miniature spectacles and sunglasses?

Before I start, this post won't explain how to use Inkscape, (the design software that I use). That would take too long and there are already a huge number of in-depth video tutorials on YouTube, if you want to learn. If there are any specific questions about Inkscape, and you just can't find the answer, drop me an email and I'll try my best to help.

So I start by Googling a photograph of a pair of glasses. I save it and open it in Inkscape.

The idea is to trace the outline of the frame and lens, so that I can A) produce a vector drawing and B) manipulate each separate component of the glasses

I use the 'Bezier' tool in Inkscape to trace the shape of half the outside of the frame (shown in red). The reason I'm tracing half of it is simply this - it's damn near impossible to perfectly trace a symmetrical object. By tracing half and using a clever tool in Inkscape, you can duplicate one half, flip it horizontally and weld the two halves together.

I trace the lens of the glasses (shown in green), in the same way using the Bezier tool.
The clever feature in these types of design software programs is that it treats each component of your design as a separate object, as if the frame was drawn on one piece of paper and the lens on a second. Because of that, you can manipulate each one separately without affecting the other.
Below you can see that I have duplicated a half of the frame and one lens, flipped it horizontally and then positioned them opposite each other. This gives me a perfectly symmetrical pair of glasses. 

To join the two halves of frame together, I click on the left and right parts of the frame and press 'Union'

Now I have three separate components on the page - one frame and two lenses

Next is the tricky bit and where people tend to get confused. If I 'painted' the frame, (shown in red), Inkscape would see this as a solid object and would fill the whole area with paint. The lenses would be disregarded as if they were drawn on a separate piece of paper.

To define the lenses, I have to tell the software program that the frame has two holes in it where the lenses would be. By selecting the frame and two lenses and by clicking 'Difference', the program subtracts the shape of the lenses from the frame

Now I have the frame, I just need to add the arms.
I follow the same process above to find a photo of an arm and trace it with the bezier tool. At this point I need to ensure the size of the glasses are correct for my preferred scale. In this case - 12th scale - the frame is 12mm wide and the arms are 12mm long (the height of the frame is dependant on the style you have chosen)

I place one arm on the left of the frame, duplicated the arm, flip it horizontally and then placed the mirror image arm on the right of the frame. Once aligned, the frame and arms can be welded together with the 'Union' function

Now I have a pair of glasses.
To make sunglasses, the only difference in the process is that I need to colour the lenses. Before subtracting the lenses from the frame, I make a duplicate pair of lenses. This allows me to colour the lenses separately and add them later.

The tool I use to colour the lenses is a 'Gradient' tool

By manipulating the colour, strength and direction of the gradient, I can make it appear as if the lenses are polarised like real sunglasses. Once I'm happy with them, I align the lenses into place

From here, I save the file as a PDF and print them on inkjet printable acetate. Acetate is semi-rigid and transparent plastic. This is how I achieve the plastic frame and clear lens look for my miniature glasses. The hardest part?...cutting the teeny things out 😕

I've made a free file available for those of you who want some glasses but don't want to design your own. The link can be found HERE or in the printies tab of this blog.
Have a wonderful weekend
Pepper 😊