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Beginner Digitizing
Let me just say right up front, I'm not a professional, I'm not a teacher, if you have read my home page you know I have not even been digitizing very long and that I'm basically teaching myself. That is my disclaimer, if after reading that you want to know more, then please by all means read on.

I have learned over the last few days that there a lot of people out there in cyber space that have a need for beginner digitizing information. As I post questions to the BBD, I get questions in my e-mail, so I am going to post just very general information here. Some may not agree with some of the information, but this is how I have learned and to this point it works for me. If you know of a better way, please let me know. I'm still learning and want to learn so if anyone has any advice to add please let me know.

First of all, I trace a design using tracing paper, and a sharpie pen, which often isn't dark enough, I'm looking for something else right now. I then scan it into my MS paint program, that came with windows. There I choose Image, then attributes, and check the box next to black and white, you will get a message box, choose okay. I then save my file as a .bmp to my data file in PE Design.

I then open Design Center and open the file I just saved, and begin from there. When you get to stage 3 it is vitally important that your outline be as close to perfect as you can get it. I zoom in as close as I can and inspect the entire outline. Any little bobble or box, or disconnected spot needs to be fixed right now. If you see an area that is not a single line, this area needs to be fixed. I click on the node thing in the tool box, that makes the boxes on your line, (told you I wasn't a professional) one of the boxes in this area will probably be red, one will be darker black pull the darkest black box away from the outline, then continue pulling boxes away until you see the extra line. Click on the extra line and delete the boxes from the end back to the outline. Then delete the boxes you pulled out, this should allow the outline to go back close to where it began and you can adjust it back to the correct shape now. Again I say it is very important that your outline be very nearly perfect. Yes it will take time, but it will pay off in the end. Click on your outline, if the entire outline turns blue, then everything is connected. It's okay if like your eyes which are not touching the outside outline do not change color. You will have fewer jump stitches, though, the more you can connect it together.
ã In this example, I did an elephant, on its trunk, the artist had drawn lines to add dimension and detail, I connected one side of the lines to the outline of the trunk thereby elimating many jumpstitches. In this example, you can see where I lengthened lines to make them touch the outline.

original artwork ã ET designs posted and changed with permission.

When I begin assigning colors, I primarily use 45 degrees and 135 degrees as fill stitch angles. In my logical mind those are opposite one another and therefore should even out the stretch on the material. I don't recommend that you start out with fancy fills, these seem to be a little harder to me to get the outlines to match up and can be discouraging. After you practice and gain a little confidence then try those nice programmed fill stitches. I leave just about everything as the default setting when assigning colors, unless my test stitch comes out badly, then I'll adjust the density.

Try to assign your colors in some sensible way, from top to bottom or from left to right. You need to assign everything that is going to be the same color at the same time. If you have moved on to another color and realize you left a spot that should have been the previous color, right click on an area of the previous color then left click the area that needs that color and that will keep your color blocks together, it will still sew all of the first color then move on to the next. If you just switch back to the previous color, your machine will make you thread that color on twice. If you get an area that will not let you put color in it, it just sits there when you click it, then it has a broken line to the outside of the design. If it was to the inside of the design your color would spill over into the next block. Go back to stage 3, you'll get a message choose okay, and in stage 3 zoom in as close as you can get, if you can see the broken line, fix it, it you can't see the broken line, then look at areas where lines intersect and move them all just a little bit, I have had breaks that I actually could not see. Go back to step 4 and try again. If your color runs over into the next area, (think of the color as water, if all the lines are not closed up tightly the color will run out into the next area), then again you need to check your lines and close them up.

I usually assign all the colors first then right click each block to assign the attributes, which are stitch direction, stitch density and whether it will be programmed fill, satin, or fill stitch. This is also where you click the box to make under sewing. As a rule, I under sew everything that isn't a small area.

Now look at your preview view, and see if you see any obvious mistakes, then check your sewing order, if you have any black areas, you want them to sew last usually, so you won't have to thread your machine twice with black, once for the color and then again for the outline. When you check your stitching order, also check the order for each part of each color, you can catch a lot of mistakes here.

Now you can import your design into Layout and Editing and add another design to it there, or add lettering or apply stitch to block and resize a design. Save your design to your card file, and then it's ready to test stitch. Watch your test stitch, you will learn a lot from seeing how your machine stitches and how it moves from area to area. Apply what you learn to your next design.

These are basic instructions in the simplest form, you can, of course, do tons more stuff, most of which I haven't learned yet, but this is just basic beginner stuff. I might add as an aside here, I know it is easier for some people to e-mail privately rather than post on the bulletin board, but so far I have asked some pretty stupid questions on the BBD and have never been criticized, or given a hard time, and have never yet asked a question that I didn't receive an answer to. If you are still uncomfortable posting on the public forum then by all means find someone you feel comfortable with and e-mail them privately. You are welcome to e-mail me, but I might not be of much help.

Here are some links for some sites that have digitizing lessons on them. Read them all, someone will explain the same thing differently than someone else and your light bulb will come on. Good luck and keep trying.

Links lesson 1
Annthegran go to the left hand navigation bar and scroll down to "tips and techniques"
there is a wealth of information here as well as a ton of other links to follow.

This is for after you master beginning digitizing, fringe designs.

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