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  1. Beyond LDraw – The Making of a Train Instruction Book Steve Barile SEBarile@sstanamera.com

  2. So you want to make an instruction book… There are tons of things to think about long before you put mouse-to-3001.dat • What are your goals? • Who is your audience? And to a lesser extent, the mechanics • Publishing Costs • The layout design • Model design • Rendering path We will explore these and other topics in detail.

  3. Goals Is it a(n) … • Idea Book – to convey ideas • Model Book – to proliferate models • Personal Challenge – another project to tackle • Educational Experience – the best way to learn is by doing • Stature – to gain recognition in the community …often it’s a combo of all of these!

  4. Target Audience Although you might have a certain target audience in mind, be assured that your material will be seen by all skill levels and ages; Kids, AFOLs, non-AFOLs… --- “I never heard of a train engine without a motor!” • Do several usability tests • Recruit everyone; kids, AFOLs, non-AFOLs… • Tell them: “They are testing you! NOT visa-versa.” • Watch, but don’t help or even talk • Their struggles are your red flags --- “He did it on his own with ease! He is 8.”

  5. Authorship Should your instruction book only include your ideas? • Your designs only • You’re never finished, but is it good enough? • Not your designs only • Many would be honored to share their work but either aren’t interested or simply can’t deal with a project of this scope; just ask! • Always give credit, never plagiarize ! • Compensation (no one’s making any money anyway) • Borrowing ideas (Did I think of this?) • They’re all borrowed!

  6. 1 2 3 4 5 Layout ApproachLinear or Hierarchical This is a new concept for me. I have not yet fully comprehended the ramifications, but… • Linear (my current approach) • standard LEGO models w/sub assemblies (trucks…) • easy to comprehend - watch it grow • assemble layer-by-layer • Hierarchical • complete deconstruction into sub-models • cognitively challenging - assembly line • assembly by sub models (consider the building experience too!)

  7. Example of Linear vs Hierarchy 2 x2 x2 x6 x2 x12 x2

  8. Example of Linear vs Hierarchy 6 8 7 9

  9. Layout Mechanics There are several interdependent aspects of the layout that should be considered, this is definitely an iterative process, but gets more intuitive with experience. • Portrait vs landscape • Aspect ratio of model and model steps • Paper size (more on this later) • Image scaling • Is 1:1 realistic for the number of steps, thus pages, etc. • Can’t make it too small • Keep the same scale through out! • except for major sub assemblies… • Backgrounds (be very careful) • Ink costs (self publishing) • Visually confusing

  10. Layout Mechanics(con’t) • Number of steps • The # of steps in your .dat file will be a good starting point • There are sub-models and callouts etc. • Use 1.5x the step count in the .dat file for total layout steps • Number of pages • Depends on number of steps • Brick/model scale • Constrained by printing budget • Words / No words • Multi-lingual? • Introduction/forward – must be timeless, books are forever! • Credits – careful who you leave out! • DON’T forget to thank your significant other(s)!

  11. Creating the Images • Resolution - what is DPI & LPI • DPI = Dots per inch (computer speak) • 2 dependencies - # of pixels (x,y) and print size • LPI = Lines per inch (publishing speak) • CMYK print dither • Bottom line numbers: 300 DPI & 150 LPI • Isometric vs perspective (I use iso) • Camera issues with iso, (back out 5% in POV camera obj) • Perspective creates non-parallel edges • Makes steps kinda ugly • Thick Edge Lines • Mega POV Find Edges post process – a must (more later) • Line width independent of render resolution • Can cause inconsistent line thickness • Anti-alias images • Use similar color to intended background • Use unique color from model elements

  12. Layout Application Needs • Configurable page sizes • Image import - multiple is nice • Transparent color selection • Image scaling - not resizing • Universal page backgrounds • Lettering / Numbering • Lines and Arrows • Call out boxes • Proper print path handling • Use full image resolution

  13. Adding Embellishments • Subassemblies – a must • Callouts in separate area • light blue/ light pink background • More work -> more .dats or sub-models • Reduces number of full steps, book pages… • Exploded sub-models • Callout in separate area • Even more work -> more .dats or sub-models • or MLCAD buffer exchange • Further reduces the number of full steps • The extra yard • Alt color schemes • Alt variations

  14. Publishing Costs • Real vs Virtual • Web (¢), CD(¢¢), Book($$$) • Print on Demand via WEB or CD (.pdf ???) • Reproduction Costs • WEB; storage - bandwidth (kinda free) • CD duplication (not free) • $0.20ea (home dup, no label, no jewel case…) qty = 1 • $5.00ea (pro dup, label, slip cover) qty > 100 • Book duplication, oy! (~30 pages x40) • $34.50/book ($1380.00) • $1.00/page (office depot) + $4.50 binding • $13.00/book ($520.00) • $0.30/page (mom & pa shop) + $3.00 binding + $0.50 cover/back stock • < $8.00/book ($8000.00)  1000 copies • Offset press – all setup costs

  15. Publishing Tips • Presentation is everything! • Its got to look & feel cool! • Not all color copiers are the same • Insist on a test run!!! • Xerox DocuPrint P12 *was* the best • Binding – saddle stitch (staples), spiral, comb, wire • Lay flat, fold back on itself, stays bound! • Buy a second hand or demo model binder • Make sure the “punch” blades are still sharp! • Cover stocks (cost savings) • Transparent slide stock (not document cover stock) • Stiff back cover • salvage matte board, white/off-white • bulk cut at Kinkos

  16. Publishing Tips (con’t) Paper - Don’t forget about paper selection, there are entire books written on this topic. • Size • Standard (8.5x11, 8.5x14, 11x17) • Trimmed (can’t print to the edge) or folded • Portrait or landscape • *Aspect ratio of model and steps might dictate • Weight • Cheap copy 20lb, high quality 35lb • heavier = better quality, less transparent, ≠ copier compatible! • Brightness • Cheep copy 84, high quality 96 • Color • Not a good idea, print the background, be very careful • Texture • Maybe, be very careful • Parchment for castle sets???

  17. And Now for the Numbers • 7 models • 1250 elements • 1 custom “straw” .dat file • 4 alt color schemes • 6 more iterations on a model I thought was done with • 182 .dat & .pov files (including tests etc.) • 188 rendered images in book • 1280x1024 render size • down to 320-240 • 15 book revisions

  18. And Now for The Code Settings- L3PAO / MPOV - Camera Globe Position ON Latt 25, Long 50, Radius 0 Camera angle 7 Light (irrelevant) Background Color 255,255,183 Seam width .75 Quality level 2 Step Clock ON Resolution 1280x1024 AA 0.3 (down to 320x240)

  19. And Now for The Code Settings- declarations - #version unofficial MegaPov 0.7; // version number may be different #declare QUAL = 2; // Quality level, 0=BBox, 1=no refr, 2=normal, 3=studlogo #declare SW = 0.75; // Width of seam between two bricks #declare STUDS = 1; // 1=on 0=off #declare BUMPS = 0; // 1=on 0=off

  20. And Now for The Code Settings- camera - // Camera (Latitude,Longitude,Radius = 25,50,0) camera { #declare PCT = 5; // Percentage further away #declare STEREO = 0; // Normal view location vaxis_rotate(<3015.88,-1867.82,-2567.57> + PCT/100.0* <3038.62,-1849.67,-2549.7>, <-5.62045e+006,-1.57342e+007,4.71612e+006>,STEREO) sky -y right -4/3*x look_at <-22.7365,-18.1489,-17.8686> // calculated angle 7 rotate <0,1e-5,0> // Prevent gap between adjecent quads orthographic }

  21. And Now for The Code Settings- lights - // Lights: light_source { <0,0,-1000> color rgb 1 shadowless } light_source { <1000,0,0> color rgb 1.25 shadowless } light_source { <0,-1000,0> color rgb 1.5 shadowless }

  22. And Now for The Code Settings- find edges - global_settings { post_process { find_edges { 2, //depth difference required for line 0.35, //angle difference required for line 0.2, //color difference required for line 1.2, // 2.0 default line width 20, // 1.4 default line sharpness rgb 0 //color of line } } }

  23. In Closing • It’s the best $2.00/hr I’ve ever made! • Keep reminding yourself your having fun, it’s well worth it in retrospect! • Continually be a student of each other’s experiences. • The tips, tricks, and models are inanimate, the acts of sharing is what builds community.