Hand-Drawn Art on the AxiDraw
From hand-drawn art on my iPad, to the AxiDraw XY pen plotter.
I’m using an iPad app called Vectornator. It enables me to hand-draw line vectors, which the AxiDraw can eat. I import each layer (color) into Inkscape and use the AxiDraw extension to plot them over USB, one color at a time.
To make this design, I created a new document in Vectornator. The AxiDraw I have can plot things within a US Letter / A4 size, so you should probably use one of those (instead of A6 like I did). I used the Pencil tool to draw lines with my stylus.
I created a separate layer for each color or element, so I could tweak each of them together. Then, making only one layer visible at a time, I exported each one as an SVG. IMPORTANT: Uncheck the “Responsive” element! If you don’t, the SVG will export with relative dimensions (percentages or whatever), which the AxiDraw can’t eat, so it will ignore anything in that format. Unchecking this option seems to give something with absolute units. (Special thanks to Padcrafter, whose blog post about Affinity Designer helped me solve this mystery.)
I added crosshairs to each layer, since I’ve sometimes had issues with the AxiDraw starting different layers in different places when there was whitespace. These registration marks make it easy to align the layers if anything goes awry, and tell the robot to use the same bounding box for each layer.
The AxiDraw extension for Inkscape allows you to plot multiple layers separately, which I’ve done to produce this green-red-gold design. Just add a number for each layer (or set of layers) in a particular color. Order doesn’t matter, just keep your colors separate.
My workflow is this:
- Launch the Inkscape extension
- Setup tab → pen down (it retains my pen up/down position settings between sessions, yay!) (I use 83% and 17%)
- Attach pen (with the nib against the surface and the pen bracket scooched up a little, so it holds the pen down firmly — unless it’s a very soft-tipped pen).
- Pen up
- Layers tab → plot layer 1, 2, …
Here’s a page of 4 of them, on 8.5"x11" US Letter cardstock:
I’m cutting them apart with a little paper guillotine, and cutting off the corners too, to get the registration marks out of there.
Hopefully, I’ll actually mail these sometime soon! 😅