How to Create Custom Pixel LED Layouts with CorelDRAW

We have talked about custom pixel LED layouts in the past . We discussed on How to create custom pixel LED layout with CorelDRAW and AutoCAD software. In that tutorial we have discussed how to create a circle pixel LED layout with CorelDRAW and wire it using AutoCAD. In this tutorial we will look into how to create a custom pixel LED layout only using CorelDraw software. Both layout creation and wiring (connecting) can be done in CorelDRAW . 


Video Tutorial

 

Custom Pixel LED Layout

Custom pixel LED layouts are pixel LED arrangements that not square or rectangular in shape. Which means the layouts that cannot be created or very hard to design within LEDEdit software. The most convenient way to create such layout is by using a third party software to create and import it to LEDEdit software. This gives the user the freedom to design the layout without a limitation. Here are some of our previous articles on custom pixel LED layouts.

How to create custom pixel LED layouts in LEDEdit software.

How to create custom pixel LED layout in AutoCAD software.

How to create custom pixel LED layout with CorelDRAW and AUTOCAD.

The Layout Plan

The first step is to create a plan for your layout . The plan can be a drawing in a piece of paper or computer generated image of your actual layout. This is the plan of the physical product . There are certain data that should be included in such plan. Here are some of them. But , you can include anything that helps you to make things easy .

Basic components should be included in the plan - 

Custom pixel LED Layout Plan
Custom pixel LED Layout Plan
• Sketch drawing of outer edges of the layout.
• Pixel LED placement positions.
• Guidelines.
• Amount of pixel for each components of the layout.
• Distance between each separate component of the layout. (Approximately)
• Dimension of each component. (Approximately)
• Amount of LEDs for each component.

Custom Pixel LED Layouts with CorelDRAW

For this tutorial we will design a custom text LED layout using CorelDRAW software. Since, We are designing the text layout using CorelDRAW .There is no limitation to your design . You can illustrate anything you like .You can custom design your font too. Here are the basic requirements for this tutorial .

Requirements -

• CorelDRAW X4 or X5 version . (LEDEdit cannot read the connection data of layouts created using later versions of CorelDRAW)

• LEDEdit 2014 or later version.

Creating a New Project

• Double click on the CorelDRAW icon and launch the software.

• Click on "Blank Document" in the quick start menu or Click on "File" and select "New" .

CorelDRAW New project

• In the "Create Project window" . Type a name for the project in the "Name:" field . 

• Choose the measurement unit by clicking on the drop down menu next to the width input field.we are going to leave other settings as they are (Default) and click on "OK".

Creating the Guide lines

The first thing we need to do in CorelDraw is to create set of guide lines for our text layout . Guidelines can be useful when it comes to placing each component (In this case character) in the layout . It helps you to set some parameters such as size and distance between  each character . So you can easily and quickly setup your layout. Guidelines will not appear on the final product .Here are some of the things that you need to consider when creating guidelines.

• To create guidelines you need to enable the Ruler  . Click on "View" and check "Rulers" by clicking on it.(If its already checked leave it)

 • The next thing you need to do is to enable the guidelines . Click on "View" and check "Guidelines" by clicking on it. (If its already checked leave it)

CorelDRAW ruler settings
CorelDRAW ruler settings

• To change the Ruler settings , Click on "Tools" and select "Options". In the options window .Click on the plus sign next to "Document" and expand it.Then ,Click on "Rulers". 

• Setting The origin -  In default coordinates of the top left corner is 0.0 in horizontal axis but not 0.0 on vertical axis . This can be little confusing when taking measurements . Lets set it to zero in each axis . In the origin section type the Height of the document in the "Vertical" input field (to get the height of the document go to File >> Document Properties. You can see it next to "Document Size:" (Width x Height) ) .

• After changing the settings click on "OK".

CorelDRAW scaling the document
 • Since , We are dealing with a actual product , It's easy to have actual dimensions to be displayed in the rulers - Click on "Edit Scale" button. Then , Select a scale from "Typical Scales" drop down menu or input how much distance in the page will represent in the actual product distance by typing the numbers in the "Page Distance" and "World Distance" inputs. (Note : Ruler will show the actual (World) dimensions ).

Creating Outer Guidelines

outer guidelines
Text outer guidelines
The outer guidelines will designates the boundaries of components of the layout . Since , The text we are creating in this case have two lines we need to designate the boundaries of each text line ( According to the plan).  

• Click on "View" and check "Rulers" by clicking on it.(If its already checked leave it) .
• First of all we needs to select the guide layer . Look at your right side menu there will be a "Object Manager" tab click on it (If you cant see the object manager go to Windows > Dockers and check "Object Manager"). 

Selecting guide layer
Selecting Guide layer

There will be a label called "Guides" click on it.  To create a vertical guideline click and hold left mouse button on the horizontal ruler and drag your mouse to the area that you want to place the guideline and release the button.

Creating Guidelines
Creating Guidelines

•  To create a Horizontal guideline click and hold left mouse button on the vertical ruler and drag your mouse to the area that you want to place the guideline and release the mouse button. 

Note: To make guideline placement easy you can make it snap to the ruler nudges by checking View > Snap to Grid . 

Creating Text Guide

The first step is to create a text guide so we can use it in the future placement of text. In this tutorial we will create a text that contains the word "LED EDIT" . Lets say , for a sign board .You need to select a font for your text design .We are going to use "Bauhaus 93" as the font. Here is how to create the guide text.

• Make sure you are in the guides layer .(  In the right side menu there will be a "Object Manager" tab click on it.There will be a label called "Guides" click on it.)

• Click on the "Text tool " in the left tool box or press F8 button of your keyboard.

• Click on anywhere in the workspace and type whatever you like.

•  Right click on the text that you have created and select "Character Formatting" . 

Character Formatting Corel Draw
Character Formatting

• In the character formatting menu (appeared on the left panel) select the preferred font from the font drop down menu  .Type the font size in the font size input (You can change it later). Click on font alignment and choose a font alignment that you like. Choose a font effect from "Font effect" drop down list.

CorelDraw Scaling the text
CorelDraw Scaling the text

Once you done that . Click on the text and move the cursor towards any corner of the text selection until you get the scale cursor . Then press shift key of your keyboard and click and hold the left mouse button while dragging it toward the area that you wants it to be scaled .Do it until it fit inside the outer guidelines.

• To move the text move your cursor in top of the text until your cursor becomes move icon .Then , Click and hold  your left mouse button while dragging it to the place that you want it to be.After you reach the position , leave the left mouse button to place it.

Creating LED Placement Guides Curves

Right click on the text  and select "Convert to Curves" and again right click on that text line and select "Break Curve Apart" .Then , Press "ESC" button of your keyboard to deselect .Now you can click on each separate character of the text.

Text outer Guides -

• We need to take one character at a time and create the outer guides. Lets take the first letter "L" . Lets break apart the letter "L" . We are going to break it on the corners. To do that we need to select these corners .

CorelDraw Shape tool
CorelDraw Shape tool

• Click on the shape tool from the left toll bar and click on the four corners of the letter L while "Shift" key pressed. Then , Right click and select "Break Curve apart" .

Selecting the corners
Selecting The corners
Break Curve apart

• Click on the Pick tool from the toolbox and right click on the letter "L" then select "Break Curve Apart" . Press "ESC" of your keyboard to deselect .

Break Curve Apart
Break Curve Apart

Text Inner Guides

As you seen in my plan .We have 3 pixel LED lines inside the letter "L" .So , we need three guides inside the character "L" .

•  Now you can select each section of the letter "L" separately. It's time to create the inner guides using these outer curves (Guides) . Select the  outer curve that best represent inner shape of the letter.  

Selected outer guide curve
Selected outer guide curve

Select the section of outer guide curve that near represent the inner shape .Then , Press "Ctrl" and "C" to copy.


•  Make sure you are in the guides layer .(  In the right side menu there will be a "Object Manager" tab click on it.There will be a label called "Guides" click on it.)  

•  Then , Press "Ctrl" and "V" to paste. The element will pasted in top of the original guide curve . 

Scaling the guides
Scaling the guides

 

Scaling guide curves
Scaling guide curves

•  Scale the pasted guide curve to the position that you need inside the character.

Text guide curves
Text guide curves

• Repeat above 4 steps to all the inside led placement guides.

re-shaping the curve
re-shaping the curve
You can re-shape the guide curves by using the "Shape Tool" (In the left side tool menu) . Simply click on the curve that you wants to edit and click on any point . You can move the points , change the curvature , add points (left click on the curve and then right click on the curve and select "Add Point") and you can delete points (Select the point that you wants to delete and press "Delete" button).

Here is how its look like when all the Inner guidelines were completed.

pixel led placement guides
pixel led placement guides
Note : Some of the guide curves have been created using line tool and pen tool (In the left tool bar).

Creating Led placement Guides

Now we have created our guide curves , It's time to create pixel LED placement guides along these curves. Lets take the first character ("L") . We have two inner guide curves and four outer guide curves .But , Placement of the inner guideline curves will coverup two outer guide curves (Horizontal top curve and vertical bottom curve) . So , We don't need to place guides along these curves. Lets create the guides along the left side outer guide curve. 

Creating Ellipse
Creating Ellipse

Click on the "Ellipse" tool from the tool bar and left click on the worksheet while holding "Ctrl" and "Shift" of your keyboard. Drag you mouse away from the clicked point . Leave the mouse when you reach the size of the ellipse that you wants ( the size of the ellipse should be equal or greater that 1.0 unit ) . Press "Esc" to deselect.

Resizing Ellipse
Resizing Ellipse

• Click on the Ellipse using the pick tool and change the size (Enter the with and height) using the top property bar (Both width and height should be equal . It should be equal or greater than 1.0 unit).

Moving Ellipse
Moving Ellipse

• Using the pick tool move the ellipse to the end (any End) of the curve that you about to place the guides along .

• Select the Ellipse and press "Ctrl" and "C" of your keyboard to copy it . 

• Make sure you are in the guides layer .(  In the right side menu there will be a "Object Manager" tab click on it. There will be a label called "Guides" click on it.)  

•  Then , Press "Ctrl" and "V" to paste. The Ellipse will paste in top of the copied Ellipse .

placing pixel led guides in curve ends
placing pixel led guides in curve ends

•  Use the pick tool (In the left Tool bar) select the ellipse from the center and move the pasted Ellipse to the other end of the guide curve (you will see the cursor text become "node" as the ellipse is at the end of the curve). 

•  Go to windows > Dockers and check "Blend" by clicking on it (If already checked leave it ).   

• Select one Ellipse and select the other (at the other end) while pressing "Shift" Key in your keyboard .

Blend Settings
Blend Settings

• In the right side panel (Blend Settings tab) type the amount of  LED guides you need along the guide curve in the input field. Then , Click on "Apply" . 

Blend along the curve
Blend along the curve
• While blend still selected . Click on "Path" button and select "New Path". Then select the curve that you wants the led guides to be positioned along . Finally , Click on "Apply" Again.
Pixel LED guide placement along Curve
Pixel LED guide placement along Curve

• Do this to other guide curves in the letter . Here is the result . (Make sure you are doing everything in the guide layer). 

Pixel LED placement Guides
Pixel LED placement Guides

Do the same to other characters as well . Here how its looks like when every character  is done .

Grouping Guides

To make things easier or to make things clear you can group the guide elements of a character .So that it's easy to use in the future . 

Grouping a single guide letter
Grouping a single guide letter

• Click on pick tool in the left tools menu . Then ,click near the character that you wants to group and hold left mouse button while dragging the cursor covering the character area . Leave the mouse button .


Selecting the Guide layer
Selecting the Guide layer

• Make sure you are in the guides layer .(  In the right side menu there will be a "Object Manager" tab click on it.There will be a label called "Guides" click on it.)  

Renaming the group
Renaming The Group
 • Click on "Arrange" (In top menu bar ) and select "Group" . To rename the group click on the grouped letter guide and go to object manager (In the right side panel ) . You can see the selected group is highlighted .Right click on it and select "Rename" .Then type any name you like .Finally , Press Enter .

Duplicating Guides

If you have same letter multiple times in the text . You don't have to redo the same character again and again you can simply copy the completed character and paste it in the place of the other character. 
 
Renaming pixel LED guides
Renaming pixel LED guides
• Group both characters separately as we have mentioned in the above section. Rename the group as you wish. So , you can identify them separately.
 
• Click on the completed guide character and press "Ctrl" and  "C"  to copy it. 
 
Selecting the guide layer

• Make sure you are in the "Guide" Layer  (Right side menu "Object Manager") .

• Press "Ctrl" and "V" to paste it . (will be pasted over the original character ).

Moving Completed Character over the non-completed

• Use the pick tool (In left tool menu) to move it over the character that you about to replace .
 

• Once the completed character is placed over the non-completed character . Select the non-completed character from the object manager and press "Delete" button of your keyboard to delete it.

Follow above steps mentioned under "Creating LED Placement Guides Curves" and  "Creating Led placement Guides" to complete the other letter guides . Here is what it's look like after all the guides been completed.
Pixel Led placement guides
Pixel LED placement guides

Placing Pixel LED References

Now we are done with the Pixel LED Guides , It's time to focus on the pixel LED reference points. Pixel LED references are ellipses that represents the pixel LED points . So that LEDEdit can read them and know the exact location of each individual pixel LED. What we are going to do is simple .We are going to place ellipses on top of each LED placement guide .But , In a different layer or layers .
 
select and move layers
Select and move layers
•  Click on "Object manager" tab in the right side menu. Then , Select "Layer 1" or create a new layer ( by clicking on the new layer button at the bottom ) and select the new layer . Click on that layer and hold your mouse button drag it over the guide layer .
• Create a Ellipse (Using Ellipse Tool in the left side tool box) with same dimensions as the pixel LED placement guide we have created . The size of the ellipse should be equal or greater than 1.0 unit (refer
to creating Led placement Guides section).
 
Snap to objects
Snap to Objects

• Click on "Object manager" tab in the right side menu. Click on the pencil icon in front of Guide Layer .(the Icon will cross out) .This will prevent you from accidentally editing the things on guide layer . If you wants to edit  guide layer afterwards , re-click on the pencil icon.

• Go to "View" select and check "Snap to Objects" 


• Once you done that click on the center of the ellipse and hold your mouse button , Drag it on top of any pixel LED placement guides and leave your mouse button (As the cursor text will become"Center")

Copy and move pixel LED references
Copy and move pixel LED references

• Copy (Ctrl + C ) the same ellipse we just moved  and press "Ctrl" plus "V" to paste it on top of original ellipse. Then , Move that ellipse in top of the next pixel LED placement guide.
• Continue above step until you place ellipses (pixel LED references ) over every pixel LED placement guide. Don't re-do any equal letters . Leave them alone.

Wiring pixel LED Reference Points

Now we have our LED references in place .It's time to wire or connect them all . We are going to connect them in series . Keep in mind that this wiring pattern should be the wiring pattern that you should use in the physical product . To demonstrate how to use multiple ports in a custom layout . We will connect each text line to a different port. However , The wiring pattern you choose should be a wiring pattern that you can made in the physical product easily.
• Go to "View" click and uncheck "Dynamic Guides" . (Make sure only "Snap to Object" is being checked).
 
• Go to "Object Manager" tab (right side menu) . Click on the eye in front of the Guide layer . Which will hide the guide layer .
• Click on bottom right corner of "Free Hand" tool in the left toll bar. A side menu will appear . Select "Pen" tool .
Connecting Pixel LED References
Connecting Pixel LED References
 
• If you made a wrong connection , simply press "Ctrl" and "Z" to undo the action .  If you wants to delete a connection point or points . Click on "Shape" tool in the left side menu and click on the point or press "Shift" and select the points that you wants to delete and press "Delete" button . Once all the characters have been done separately , Here how it's looks like.
Individual Character Wiring
Individual Character Wiring

Grouping pixel LED References

You can use the same method that we have used in the "Grouping Guides" section to group pixel LED references with connections. Make sure the guide layer is locked (Click and cross out pencil icon in front of guide layer in "Object Manager") .
Selecting  pixel LED references
Selecting  pixel LED references
• Click on pick tool in the left tools menu . Then ,click near the references that you wants to group and hold left mouse button while dragging the cursor covering the character area . Leave the mouse button after you covered the whole area.

• Make sure you are in the layer that contains the LED references that you wants to group (Right side menu "Object Manager" Tab )

• Click on "Arrange" and select "Group" . To rename the group click on the grouped LED references and go to object manager (In the right side panel ) . You can see the selected group is highlighted .Right click on it and select "Rename" .Then type any name you like . Press Enter .

Duplicating Pixel LED References

If you have same character over and over again , you don't have to redo above steps in order to complete them. You can duplicate group of pixel LED references and move it on top of  the same characters in your layout .

• Group the character and the wiring as we have mentioned in the above section. Rename it as you wish.

• Click on the completed and grouped  reference character and press "Ctrl" and  "C"  to copy it. 

• Make sure you are in the  Layer  that you wants to paste it . (Right side menu "Object Manager") .

•Press "Ctrl" and "V" to paste it . (will be pasted over the original ).
Moving grouped reference points
Moving grouped reference points

• Use the pick tool (In left tool menu) to move it over the character that you about to replace .

After all the pixel LED reference points have been placed and Guides layer hidden .Here is how its look like.
pixel LED reference points
pixel LED reference points

Wiring Between Characters

Now we have done wiring each individual characters . It's time to wire the them together . Each character that connect to a specific port should be connected in series . In this tutorial we are going to use single port for single line  of text . Hence , two ports needed . In this case the text line "LED" connected to port 1 and text line "EDIT" connected to port 2 . So , Lets connect the first line of text .

• Click on pen tool from the tool box .
wiring between letters
Wiring between letters
• Click on the last reference point (where wiring ends) of the first character ("L"). Then , Click on the first reference point (where wiring starts) of the next character ("E") . (click when the cursor text become "node"). Do same between the letter "E" and "D" . Then , Press "Enter" .
 
• Then we are going connect the letters in the second line same way . Press "Enter" after connecting last two letters of that line . Now , All the characters have been connected , here how its looks like .
Wiring of custom text
Wiring of custom text
 
 Notes :
 
• Since , We are connecting the two text lines to separate ports , There is no connection between them .
 
• As we did the wiring in such way so that the wiring end of previous letter is right next to the wiring start of the next letter .

Creating a Port

• Now we have completed our wiring , Lets create and connect each line to ports as I have mentioned earlier . You can connect up-to maximum pixel LEDs supported by your pixel LED controller per port. Although , We can connect both text lines to single port , for demonstrative purposes we will use two ports .
 
• Click on the text tool ( In left side tool box)  and click near the first character of the first text line ("L") . Then , Type "p1" without any space (p1 means Port 1 ) .
 
• For the next line we are going to do the same . But , we are going to type "p2" instead of "p1" ( p2 means Port 2 ) .
 
• You can type any port number you wish to connect  the pixel LED references to . Type "p" followed by port number .

Connecting to Port 

• Click on the pen tool as we have mentioned in the "Wiring pixel LED Reference Points" section .
Connecting the layout to controller Port
Connecting the Port
 
• Using pen tool click on the first reference point's center (cursor text will display "node") of the first letter then move the pen tool on top of the port label that we have created in the above section (In this case "p1" ) . move the cursor near the left of the text . The cursor text will become "text baseline" click on that point .

• Create and connect any other port labels to corresponding pixel LED references . Here how it's looks like after connecting port 1 and port 2 to two text lines .
Pixel LED layout port connection
Pixel LED layout port connection

Exporting the DXF file

• To Import this layout file to LEDEdit software we have to export or save this file as a .dxf file . AutoCAD dxf file to be exact . 

• Go to "File" and select "Export" . 
Export layout as dxf file
Export as dxf

• In the export window browse the location that you wants to export the layout file to . Type the file name in the "File Name : " text field .

• Click on the "Save as File Type" drop down menu and select "DXF-AutoCAD (*.dxf) " . Then , Click on "Export" .
Layout Export settings
Export settings
• A window will appear .  In that window select "Export Version" as "AutoCAD 2007" . "Export Units" as the unit you have used in the creation of the layout. For "Export Text as" Check "Text" . Leave other settings as defaults . Then , Click on "OK" .

Importing The Custom LED Layout

Now you can save and close CorelDraw software and start LEDEdit software  .Here is how to import the .dxf layout in LEDEdit and LEDEdit-K versions.

LEDEdit Versions -
 
• Create a new project . (please refer to our basics lessons if you don't know how to LEDEdit Basics )
 
• Click on "Project Config (C)" and select "Import  (CorelDraw .Dxf).
 
• A window will appear check "Not accurate attachment". Click "OK".

• Browse and select the file location .Then select the file and click on "Open"

• If everything went OK . You will see a message like this .Stating the amount of pixels that have been successfully imported. Click "OK" .
Successfully imported dxf layout file
Successfully imported dxf layout file
• Continue programing the custom pixel LED layout as we have mentioned in This Tutorial (Continue from "Recording a Video or an Animation " section).

LEDEdit-K Versions -

• Create a new project (please refer to our basics lessons if you don't know how to LEDEdit -K Basics).

• Click on "Edit Layout" .
 
• In layout Editor window Click on "dxf" button . Then , Browse and select the .dxf layout file that you have created .Press "Open" .
LEDEdit dxf import settings
LEDEdit dxf import settings
• In the import dxf settings check "Imprecise Connection" and  increase the scale as you wish using the slider .lower the scale greater the misplacement .Greater the scale greater the distance between each individual pixel . But, If your original dxf file have larger gap between pixel LED references , select a low scale number )
 
• If everything went OK . You will see a message like this .
LEDEdit-K Successfully imported dxf file message
LEDEdit-K Successfully imported dxf file message
That is it . That's how you can create a custom pixel LED Layouts with CorelDraw software .Continue programing the custom pixel LED layout as we have mentioned in our basics tutorials  .
 



4 comments:

  1. why when importing dxf file, it says sometimes , reduce the canvas of the led layout

    ReplyDelete
  2. when I imoprt DXF file it says unable to read the layout about lights

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What LEDEdit version , Coreldraw Version you are using ?

      Delete