Erik Leppen

Creating instructions in Ldraw

40 posts in this topic

After seeing all those wonderful instructions by everybody, I can't believe all those people use "just" LPub for this. So I was wondering, what do you people use to edit your PDFs after LPub has done its job? Things like, adding notes, swapping around pages, adding a title page, adding some photos to explain things more clearly, etc.

I'm asking because I recently rediscovered LPub and now I'd like to make instructions, and I'm not 100% satisfied by what LPub produces.

So, what do you use to create and finalize PDF instructions, besides LPub (and MLCAD/LDView)?

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Fancy seeing my name in Davids link.:laugh:

You can save Lpubs image's separately and then use powerpoint to edit them with text,other images,arrows,etc.

Some reading for you.

Ps:this kind of topic should of been in the Cad Section.:blush:

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You can save Lpubs image's separately

That's something I didn't know! I found the option, tried it and it seems to be the missing piece of the puzzle. Thanks for that! :thumbup:

By the way, getting the PNG images, I tackled the "editableness" problem, but of course I still needed a PDF. So I looked for a "png to pdf converter" and I found this:

PDFArea Image to PDF Converter Free. It looks to be free with unlimited usage time. So anyone else looking for this, here it is :)

Ps:this kind of topic should of been in the Cad Section.:blush:

Sorry, didn't know a CAD section existed...

Edit: @Dluders, thanks for the link, but the submodels weren't the problem I was having. Thanks anyway :classic:

Edited by Erik Leppen

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Glad you found out what you needed,Please be aware that I just updated the reply I made in Davids link.:sweet:

Edited by Alasdair Ryan

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@Erik

I copy/paste all the png files generated by lpub/povray into MS powerpoint. There you can define templates with general information you want to mentioned on every slide. Pictures, text, etc can be added.

Then I generate a pdf with Adobe acrobat pro. Until two years ago, this was the only pdf generator witout haing white margins around a slide, or marketing notes as footer.

@all

Btw. Did anyone noticed that the Official building instructions are sometimes shown incomplete on apple's ebooks Apps (and others) on iPad? For instance, the BI for the helicopter is incomplete (no pictures are shown, but only partlist box per step, arrows for explanations, background color are shown). Same goes for the crawler BIs. But the tractor is fine.

I noticed this first with the B model of the logging loader 9397. Maybe TLC just did not merge all the layers within a slide... And ipad ebooks can not deal with that..

Will upload picture when my windows pc is on... Can not add the photo from my iPad directly.... Something to improve for Eurobricks forum functionalities..;-)

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I make my instructions almost completely with MLCad & LPub. I make the cover and an incidental picture with photoshop-like software, where I use images generated by POV-ray and LDView. The are are quite some "hidden" features in LPub. Right-clicking often gives pop0up menus with additional functions.

I work with submodels and buffer-exchange in MLCad a lot and this enables me to make almost everything I want.

sample_-_1_800x600.jpg

sample_-_2_800x600.jpg

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After seeing all those wonderful instructions by everybody, I can't believe all those people use "just" LPub for this. So I was wondering, what do you people use to edit your PDFs after LPub has done its job? Things like, adding notes, swapping around pages, adding a title page, adding some photos to explain things more clearly, etc.

I'm asking because I recently rediscovered LPub and now I'd like to make instructions, and I'm not 100% satisfied by what LPub produces.

So, what do you use to create and finalize PDF instructions, besides LPub (and MLCAD/LDView)?

99% of my instructions are straight out of LPub. I export the pages as PNG images then import them into Acrobat to make the PDF. All I do is add a cover page. Once you find all the features of LPub, it does pretty much everything you need.

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The last set of instructions that I made, I made the hard way!

  1. I recreated the physical model in MLCad
  2. I rendered each step in LDView, and exported the renders as PNG images with transparency
  3. I also rendered each individual piece for use in the parts list and piece call-out boxes
  4. I used Adobe Illustrator to manually lay out each page and add numbers, arrows, and sub-steps, etc.
  5. I then exported each individual page as separate PDFs
  6. Lastly, I combined the PDFs into a single multi-page PDF using Adobe Acrobat Pro

This created great looking instructions, but took a lot of time to create as it was a very 'manual' process.

00000011.jpg

00000028.jpg

00000030.jpg

Edited by Splat

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When working with LPub you need to get some feelings for it :classic:

What I mean is that you need to know how it will interpret setting GLOBAL or LOCAL. The best thing is you experiment with the look and feel and then generate a template for LPUB that you re-use. This template should take care of all general settings, like fonts, colors, line sizes etc.

i.e. like this:

0 !LPUB CALLOUT STEP_NUMBER FONT GLOBAL "Arial,36,-1,5,50,0,0,0,0,0"

0 !LPUB MULTI_STEP STEP_NUMBER FONT_COLOR GLOBAL "#ffffff"

0 !LPUB MULTI_STEP STEP_NUMBER FONT GLOBAL "Arial,48,-1,5,75,0,0,0,0,0"

0 !LPUB STEP_NUMBER FONT_COLOR GLOBAL "#ffffff"

0 !LPUB STEP_NUMBER FONT GLOBAL "Arial,48,-1,5,75,0,0,0,0,0"

0 !LPUB PLI MODEL_SCALE GLOBAL 0.8000

0 !LPUB PLI ANNOTATE FONT GLOBAL "Arial,16,-1,5,75,0,0,0,0,0"

0 !LPUB PLI INSTANCE_COUNT FONT GLOBAL "Arial,18,-1,5,75,0,0,0,0,0"

0 !LPUB PAGE BACKGROUND GLOBAL COLOR "#dcdcff"

0 !LPUB PAGE SIZE GLOBAL 11.0000 8.5000

Re-using those they can easily be pasted into LPub. Preparing yourself with your preferred settings this will lead to great results, see Tagl's Brickshelf

LPub can of course be better (e.g. adding measurements, 1:1 views), but it does a great job. I have seen a program called "LIC" but I could not get it to save instructions properly. I would prefer a marriage of those two!

What LPub is missing in my opinion is the "Ghosting" and "Buffer Exchange" you need to do in MLCAD as Eric mentioned.

Splat's Instructions are "Wow!" Those 1:1 call-outs cannot be done with LPub (I have to try what Eric has shown) and a very nicely sorted BOM is also not possible with LPub, so here manual work will lead to better BOMs

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The last set of instructions that I made, I made the hard way!

  1. I recreated the physical model in MLCad
  2. I rendered each step in LDView, and exported the renders as PNG images with transparency
  3. I also rendered each individual piece for use in the parts list and piece call-out boxes
  4. I used Adobe Illustrator to manually lay out each page and add numbers, arrows, and sub-steps, etc.
  5. I then exported each individual page as separate PDFs
  6. Lastly, I combined the PDFs into a single multi-page PDF using Adobe Acrobat Pro

This created great looking instructions, but took a lot of time to create as it was a very 'manual' process.

(...)

Does Adobe Illustrator use an open format?

I'm developing software that takes MLCaD models (ignoring any step information).

My program then creates all the steps, sub-models, rotations, arrows, parts call outs and stuff as needed before exporting.

If Illustrator uses an open format, I might bea ble to export to it, thus reducing the amount of manual labor significantly.

(Unfortunately my own instructions are often too large for LPub to handle)

Right now I have only made the most basic stuff work and I still use an old version of LPub to make my instructions. Steps are also still created manually.

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The last set of instructions that I made, I made the hard way!

  1. I recreated the physical model in MLCad
  2. I rendered each step in LDView, and exported the renders as PNG images with transparency
  3. I also rendered each individual piece for use in the parts list and piece call-out boxes
  4. I used Adobe Illustrator to manually lay out each page and add numbers, arrows, and sub-steps, etc.
  5. I then exported each individual page as separate PDFs
  6. Lastly, I combined the PDFs into a single multi-page PDF using Adobe Acrobat Pro

This created great looking instructions, but took a lot of time to create as it was a very 'manual' process.

I do this, except that I don't use Illustrator, but Adobe InDesign

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(Unfortunately my own instructions are often too large for LPub to handle)

Not sure what you mean by this. I've done 5000+ part models in LPub without any problems. I think maximum page count has been about 250.

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Not sure what you mean by this. I've done 5000+ part models in LPub without any problems. I think maximum page count has been about 250.

The latest version of LPub that I have tested, which is the first one where they displayed pictures simply couldn't load my models. I don't know if they have gotten better, but for now I'm fine using MLCad to construct everything and the old version of LPud to make the pictures. I am planning on pulling LPub out of the loop and simply use the LDraw as a command-line program for my instructions - that way I can get rid of all the old LPud quirks (doesn't save state, redraws all images and has very poor default values).

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The last set of instructions that I made, I made the hard way!

  1. I recreated the physical model in MLCad
  2. I rendered each step in LDView, and exported the renders as PNG images with transparency
  3. I also rendered each individual piece for use in the parts list and piece call-out boxes
  4. I used Adobe Illustrator to manually lay out each page and add numbers, arrows, and sub-steps, etc.
  5. I then exported each individual page as separate PDFs
  6. Lastly, I combined the PDFs into a single multi-page PDF using Adobe Acrobat Pro

This created great looking instructions, but took a lot of time to create as it was a very 'manual' process.

I used a similar method when I started making instructions, but it took much mure time compared to using LPub to it's full capabilities. Indeed, you can't make it look like your wonderfull instructions, but the result is clear and everything is well visible.

Not sure what you mean by this. I've done 5000+ part models in LPub without any problems. I think maximum page count has been about 250.

My latest instructions were 254 pages, so if there's a limit it above 250.

The feature I miss most in LPub is the ability to jump to any page you want. Now, if you want to go from page 1 to 100, you have to skip 99 pages, where every page needs to be rendered.

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The feature I miss most in LPub is the ability to jump to any page you want. Now, if you want to go from page 1 to 100, you have to skip 99 pages, where every page needs to be rendered.

Try deleting the currant page number in the box in the top menu,and then type your desired page number.

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It works for me.:sceptic:

Make sure you leave the spaces as they are.Use enter to go to the page you want after you have typed the right number in.

th_untitled-11.jpg

Edited by Alasdair Ryan

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I've tried that (multiple times), it doesn't work.

Hmmm, works fine for me. I can skip to any page at any time. As Alasdair said, you have to leave the spaces and the "of xx" in there.

What I can't do is export just a single page if I find an error. I have to export the whole set of instructions again.

I didn't mean that 250 pages was a limit, I just meant that was the largest I made. In fact, most of my instructions start out at 700-1000 pages until I start combining steps onto one page. Still no problems with LPub and model size.

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I do this, except that I don't use Illustrator, but Adobe InDesign

InDesign is probably the better tool to use for multi-page documents, but I'm more familiar with Illustrator, so that is what I went with.

Does Adobe Illustrator use an open format?

I'm developing software that takes MLCaD models (ignoring any step information).

My program then creates all the steps, sub-models, rotations, arrows, parts call outs and stuff as needed before exporting.

If Illustrator uses an open format, I might bea ble to export to it, thus reducing the amount of manual labor significantly.

I think the Illustrator format is a proprietary Adobe format, but Illustrator itself can open a wide range of files, some of which may be an open format. For example, you could create an SVG file (XML based), which could then be opened in Illustrator.

But, as mentioned above, you might be better off creating a format that InDesign can work with. InDesign has the InDesign Markup format (IDML) that seems to have the format specifications readily available (based on XML). You could then use InDesign to tweak this IDML file as needed, and export to PDF.

There are also a few libraries that you can use, such as IDMLlib and PDFlib that you may be able to use if you are coding things yourself (although I have never used these before). This question on StackOverflow might help: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/3853510/any-kind-of-external-idml-viewer

Or you could skip Illustrator and InDesign altogether, and just go straight to PDF somehow.

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Thanks.

Exporting to various formats is thankfully an easy task once you have all the groundwork covered (making the instructions). The most difficult part would be to allow the user to say "this piece should already have been put onto the model a step before" or "this should be a sub-model". All these changes have to happen in the program I'm designing (unless InDesign and Illustrator have some awesome functionality that I don't know of).

Still. This is a project which is very young and I have other programs which have to be completed before this... there's always a lot of programming to be done.

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It works for me.:sceptic:

Make sure you leave the spaces as they are.Use enter to go to the page you want after you have typed the right number in.

Now I know what I did wrong. I replaced the complete x of xx by the page number I wanted to go to. Knowing this will save a lot of time, thanks.

Edited by Jurgen Krooshoop

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Sorry for bumping the thread again, but during the last few weeks I have tried some stuff with LPub and I have to say that all the possibilities of the program are quite amazing! Whoever made that possible have done a great job at that for sure. Also it's actually pretty easy to use as well. The hard (or rather, tedious) part is getting everything right in MLCAD.

It's interesting how instructions get 60% to 70% shorter from just combining multiple steps into one and using callout. Also removing the PLIs from every substep helps creating cleaner instructions.

I did find a few bugs and weird glitches though. I'm curious whether others run into the same problems.

  • LSynth flex axles don't render and its parts show as huge empty spaces in the PLI. But maybe I used LSynth wrong though.
  • There doesn't seem to be a way to remove the PLI from all steps in one callout (not that I want, but it's a bug nonetheless).
  • Sometimes, callouts forget their positions and next time I open up the program they are all over the place.
  • Sometimes, when I change the scale of an assembly and when it asks "Change only this step?" I choose Yes. Yet sometimes, contents of callouts are also scaled (also on entirely different pages).
  • There seems to be no way to change the scale of an assembly in a callout. I can open up the scale dialog, but when I change the value and press OK it just does nothing.
  • The assembled callouts show a rotated assembly, but most of the time the rotation is random and completely wrong.
  • An assembled callout only shows parts of the submodel in question, not submodels of the submodel.
  • When I move the assembly in a single-step page by dragging it, and the page has a callout, everything ends up in a completely different place then where I put it.
  • The callout window is not expanded to make sure the "x2" indication falls completely within its borders.

Sorry for wall of text, but expect some instructions soon :excited:

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With that praise it sounds like I should give the latest version of LPub a new chance (rather than my old love being the nearly-command-line version).

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