the technical side

Galhenat asked some great questions in her comment on my last post, so I’ll answer them here:

“Just out of curiosity, what do you do when recharting? Fixing any known errors I suppose, but does the design really gets altered?”

When I say “re-charting”, it can mean a couple different things.  In general, if I have to do anything with the design’s chart files, I use the term re-charting.

Sometimes I need to totally do a pattern over from a hand-drawn chart: I must start a new computer file, and individually place every symbol and backstitch line on the grid. I guess this would be re-charting in its truest sense.  It’s very time-consuming, and has the greatest chance of error.

Other times, if a design was originally created in my computer program, I may just need to edit symbols (Some years ago, I created my own fonts for charting…prior to that, I used fonts created by Just CrossStitch, so technically, I would be violating copyright by using those fonts now.)

Editing symbols can be done relatively quickly, so, as was the case with the Cloisonné Ornaments, the turn-around time was much less than with a design like Peacock Tapestry, which had to be totally re-charted.

In any re-charting situation, I try to make any error corrections (hopefully without adding any more?!).  I also try to keep as many of the same symbols as possible… although sometimes I have to change quite a few of them. Because I want to keep everything as close as possible to the originally published designs, I resist the urge to “improve” designs when I re-chart.  (The only exception that I can recall is when I re-charted Angel Procession for the Leisure Arts Christmas Collection book and simplified the wings to reduce backstitching.)

“I just envisioned recharting as “typing” the handdrawn chart into a charting program and nothing more. It seems that I am wrong in thinking that it is this simple? Do you want to share which charting program you use? From previous posts I recall a program that seemed to be more a drawing than a charting program, or was that only for designing?”

I use the 2-D portion of an older version of a CAD program called Vectorworks for designing/charting. Drawing-wise, it’s very accurate, and I can get it to do what I need, but it’s nothing like the needlework designing programs that I’ve tried.  Everything must be done within the software’s CAD framework, including manually dividing the chart into sections and then exporting and placing them into publishing software (I use an older version of Quark).

Producing a multi-page pattern that can be printed (either by a traditional offset printer or by an individual downloading and printing a .pdf file) is a rather involved process.  Needlework designing software that I’ve tried automatically divides up the chart, and generates a color code, etc. and it’s ready to go.  Unfortunately, I just couldn’t use those programs; they didn’t have the functionality/versatility I required for designing, so I went the more laborious route of traditional layout. (Oh, and I use Macs, so my choices for needlework design software were very limited.)

So, when I re-chart, I don’t just re-create/alter the chart itself, I must also re-do the entire pattern layout.  I’ll need to do this for all of the Leisure Arts pattern re-releases.

“BTW, those handwritten charts, are they in your handwriting or did you delegate?”

All of my hand-drawn charts were done by me. 🙂  And I’m very glad I don’t have to do that anymore!  Some charts, like Peacock Tapestry, took well over 40 hours to draw.

I hope I explained everything OK.  Thanks again for the excellent questions, Galhenat!

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11 Responses to the technical side

  1. Myst says:

    I would love to see an excerpt of the hand drawn peacock tapestry vs computer tapestry for how different the readability would be.

    Looking through the fantasy collection 2 book I noticed that the guardian and the storyteller charts seem to use much ‘bolder’ symbols compared to others. Other patterns like mermaid and the enchanter the pattern seems less ‘heavy’. I’ve seen some patterns elsewhere where darker colors use bolder symbols and lighter colors had softer symbols but I don’t really notice that in the patterns I have of yours. So with that said, how do you choose which symbols to use in a pattern from your library of useable symbols?

    • Myst, I can’t tell you why some of the Fantasy Collection 2’s charts are ‘bolder’ and some are very ‘light-looking’. Leisure Arts is totally responsible for all aspects of their publications; I am not involved in the process at all. Some of the designs in the book were re-charted by LA…I’m not sure why…while others were not. (Unfortunately, I don’t think the quality of the book overall measures up to the other TW Collection books.)

      When I was hand-drawing my charts, I sometimes chose symbols that I could more accurately draw into the tiny grid blocks without too much regard to the darkness or lightness of floss colors. (I drew charts on gridded drafting paper which had 100 grid blocks per square inch… which made quarter stitches VERY tiny indeed!) Computer charting changed that quite a bit. While I’ve tried over the years to choose heavier-looking symbols for darker floss colors, etc., it was not always possible to stick to that formula. In some of my designs, the sheer number of colors used made that impossible.

  2. Galhenat says:

    Ooops… I hadn’t counted on my questions getting a whole post to themselves.
    Thank you very much for your elaborate reply. It does explain why it takes such a lot of time and work to rechart a design. And I am one of those who like a behind-the-scenes look of the designing process.

  3. Joanne P says:

    Great questions and brilliant answers. No wonder it takes so long to produce a chart from the original artwork. Stitchers do appreciate the thought that goes into your designs to make them so enjoyable to stitch. I could never stitch a computer-generated design after stitching your’s (and Nora’s and Joan’s!!)

    • Thanks, Joanne, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Designers all have their own unique formulas for getting their designs into stitchers’ hands… and thank goodness, stitchers tastes are as varied as designers’ approaches!

  4. And then there are those symbols that you start off using, only to discover that you can never, ever use them again. Know of any Teresa??? 😉

  5. Zeusgirl says:

    Fascinating – thank you for such a detailed explanation!

    • You’re welcome! I’m pretty sure some peoples’ eyes glazed over a little bit there (lol), but I know there are others who are interested in the ‘nut-and-bolts’ side of things. Thanks for commenting.

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