View Full Version : Knuckle dragging engineer in need of "artistic" help

Mark Ross
10-01-2013, 9:03 PM
So...I have an area that is 43mm by 86mm and I need to engrave. Here is the problem. Sometimes it could be a 4 letter word like "salt" or a 7 letter word like "oregano" and other times it could be something more complicated. Engraving horizontally makes sense for most things, but other times, vertically makes sense. Has anyone run into this? Since it is a product that is on a non disclosure, I had to figure out how to describe it without violating the disclosure. The company is looking for a "uniform" look on the engraving but I have played around with everything and the only thing that makes sense to my knuckle dragging engineer in me is...(wait for it...) change the font size (brb...have to stab myself in the heart as somehow I have some lawyer 2 point in me...lol). At some point on an engraving vertical outrules horizontal. For instance, "Chili Powder" can be engraved as two separate words. Horizontally. But...Mexican Chili Powder...OW OW OW... or whatever won't engrave well if it looks like this. "Mex-Ican-Chil-I Pow-der" Is there a font or method that anyone can recommend that would cover this? I am an OGRE...I make things run well in the Swamp Donkey, my idea of art is Elvis and Black velvet or Dogs playing poker...Come on Dee help an orge that doesn't want to leave the swamp and take a class on...art...

Mike Null
10-02-2013, 6:12 AM
Sometimes uniformity is a completely wrong answer. Consider mixing fonts, sizes, case and orientation.

Joe Hillmann
10-02-2013, 10:13 AM
Assuming everything I am engraving is close to the same length, like a range from 2 to 15 letters, I would type the longest name in first. Using the longest name I would choose the largest font that allows it to fit in the area available and set the text so it is centered.

That way all the words would fit, be centered and be the same size font.

If you are Using Corel you could draw your text box and set the formatting to full or full force

Mike Chance in Iowa
10-02-2013, 4:04 PM
I do what Joe does. Since you are limited on describing the object, lets' go with a business card case for the example. If the engravings are going to the same customer, I look for the longest word and adjust the font for that and engrave 1-2-3 lines of centered text. All smaller words will have the same font size or maybe 1-2 points larger if it's a really short word and a lot of blank space. That way, all the business card cases have a consistent look. If the cases are going to different customers, then I go with a font & size that looks good for their specific text or graphic. When it comes to selecting a good font for situations like that, I try to use one that allows me to stretch it and still look good (and not distorted) such as Helvetica or various Roman fonts. The more unique the font, the less-likely it will stretch taller or wider without looking odd.

Cara Huber
10-02-2013, 4:49 PM
Here's a thought from someone who comes to laser engraving from a graphic design background. (For what it's worth...) How about creating some sort of border or frame. It could be as elaborate as the client can stand or as simple as a box. Define the space of the frame to fit the longest word. Center it. Do the same with the shortest. This frame will give the best appearance of uniformity as all frames are the same, just not the words inside. Don't mess with "squishing" and "stretching" type. It is the mark of an amateur. You might consider a bold condensed font, it will give you the best flexibility. Another random thought is to make the box/frame the engraved part and the words clear (I assume this is glass). That would really read as uniform. I hope this make sense and helps you out.

Mike Chance in Iowa
10-02-2013, 5:22 PM
Don't mess with "squishing" and "stretching" type. It is the mark of an amateur.

I disagree. When done properly and with the right font, stretching a font taller can make all the difference in the world when it comes to being easy to read versus too small. When done properly, very few people even notice the font was stretched. Especially when dealing with small engraved objects such as the business card example I gave. Switching to a condensed version of the font is essentially doing the same thing. (Condensed fonts are typically stretched taller and made more narrow then the original font.)

I am not saying "stretching and squishing" fonts should be done on a regular basis. It should be done only when necessary.

Doug Griffith
10-03-2013, 10:20 AM
You could also pad the non-text space with a design element. Anything from a decorative swirl to a dash that adjusts in length to fill the negative space.

Cara Huber
10-03-2013, 10:52 AM
Mike, we're really not disagreeing. The original poster said the variety of words range from SALT to MEXICAN CHILI POWDER. That amount of stretching and or squishing would look amateurish. Just because Corel Draw or Adobe Illustrator will allow you to squish a font to 30% of it's original size doesn't mean it's a good design decision. You said "stretching a font taller can make all the difference in the world when it comes to being easy to read versus too small. When done properly, very few people even notice the font was stretched." Agreed. Done Properly. My point was not to arbitrarily squish some words and not others. The OP was looking for ways to make it look professional and consistent. Your business card solution is a sound one, but I read the problem as the words are engraved on a set, meaning salt and Mexican chili powder would be displayed next to another. Completely different problem. As to using a condensed font, let me elaborate as my post apparently wasn't clear. My suggestion is not to use the condensed font just for the longer words, but overall as it will allow for a MORE CONSISTENT look.

Joe Hillmann
10-03-2013, 11:38 AM
Since you can't say what you are working on all we can give you is generic answers.

Is there any way to make the short words longer? I do a lot of name engraving and short names don't look good. When someone wants a short name I often suggest using their given name or last name as well or add another word such as "presented to" or something along those lines. The extra words help to balance it out with the rest of the engraving.

John Finnegan
10-03-2013, 3:59 PM
Hi Mark,

What program are you doing these in?
In Adobe Illustrator, you can set all your spacing parameters for a text box in the Paragraph and Character palettes. Un-check the 'hyphenate' box and you won't have the problem with the hyphens.
If the words are always different, in Illustrator you could even go as far as creating an Action that could automatically do your formatting/spacing for you once you type out a word.


Mark Ross
10-04-2013, 6:51 PM
We use the Cruel Draw suite...lol. So I have been playing around with Corel Draw and I have been playing around with Cara's suggestion of some sort of border. See it is esay when you are engraving sulphur, but when the word is Polybrominated biphenyl and the company in question doesn't want words broken up, it gets tough. I am not sure about why they are pushing about a "universal" look but I think it has something to do with lawyers and lawsuits... not really sure but I went back and asked about approved fonts to see if I could garner a bit more information. There was a thing that happened a few years ago with Heparin. A hospital admitted that three of its patients had received 1,000 times the prescribed Heparin. Instead of 10 units per millimeter, the patients received 10,000 units. What happened was a pharmacy technician mistakenly stocked the 10 unit vials and 10,000 unit vials in the same drawer. Protocol at the hospital is to keep the different units separated. Long story short, the labels both had similar colors and the tech just looked at the color and stocked. Instead of the label being bright red on the higher dosage and green or something else on the lower dosage, it was close enough that an error occurred. I was told that what we were engraving has to be uniform, read right to left, be legible, "consistent" in its "appearance". Sorry I can't give more details, but I appreciated the feedback. Stretching a font is an absolute no no I have been told. We have not even been told what we will be engraving yet, just given the spice jar analogy. I hope its spice jars. I can deal with not mixing up Cayenne with Habanero, not sure how I would do with Sulfur and Plutonium 238!

Mark Ross
10-04-2013, 6:53 PM
Sorry, too many years of reading both ways, it has to read left to right consistently.