If you read my story in the Discussion section (https://projects.xtool.com/discussion/127), at the end I share my basic creation process, the example is a picture frame, so I thought to make a real step-by-step How-to, so you will have a better idea of how I process ideas into reality
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Step 1

Idea and Inspirations:

I have an Esty store to offer prints of some of my favorite watercolor paintings, my print is furnished with a mat board, and a backing and I put them in a clear cellophane bag, so they are ready to display as is. But often I'm asked about the other framing options, so that prompted me to want to design a frame for my painting.

 

In my Instagram account (@ytcraft178) where I post all my paintings, I did design a few variations of mock-up frames for the post to give the post a more finishing look and create a specific style to the account. So I decided to put that mock-up frame to the test. Here are photos of my Etsy prints, a few pages of my Instagram posts, and the close-up look of the frame.

 

*** Examples of my ETSY prints **

** Examples of my Instagram posts **

 

*** Close-up view of the frame ***

Step 2

Thoughts process and idea sketches

I typically use the top-down approach, so from the finished product idea and see how to get there. Here are some sketches I drew out on Procreate App on iPad.

*** This is the look I am aiming for ***

 

This is what I had in mind, a frame with the opening of the images (3.5"x3.5"), and instead of using a real mat, I like to build a ledge in the frame to create that look, and also with a finishing backing, which name, logo, personalized message can be engraved on the back side of the frame. I went ahead and sketch out the ideas with Procreate App on my iPad.

 

So I figured that I will need the following layers: Top Layer, Mid Layer, and the Backing Layer

 

After my first try, the basic structure works exactly as I had in mind, but there were a few issues:

  1. Part of the original decorative elements did not cut out properly and needed improvement
  2. All three pieces of the frame came out great, but the picture has to place between the Mid and the Backing Layer before gluing all pieces together, which means you will not be able to change the picture afterward. But won't it be nice if the frame is reusable?

 

Step 3

Solutions:

For the decorative elements, compare the before and after images below, you would see the differences:

  1. Since the patterns are going to be cut out, so "shortening" them makes it easier to get the pieces out, also it will strengthen the area as well.
  2. Making a doughnut shape geometry means you are going to lose that inside area as well, so you need to use the technique to create the stencil, connecting the inner piece to the outside

*** Compare the "Before" and "After" to see the changes ***

 

Creating a slot for inserting the picture, an extra layer (Slot Layer) is added, with a cut-out of the size slightly larger than the opening, extended all the way through the top edge, and creating a "U" shape layer (dark green area), so the picture can be easily inserted or taken out from the top

And the top view of the finished frame looks like this:

Step 4

Design Creating & Cutting

 

Go ahead and digitized the final designs onto the software, and get ready to cut all the pieces.

Top Layer

  1. I went ahead and create the decorative elements outside of the XCS, and convert them to SVG format
  2. In XCS, insert 2 squares, 6x6" (the outer dimension), and 3.7x3.7" (the opening cutout).
  3. Upload the Decorative Elements SVG, with the "Image" button
  4. Place the two elements in place, refer back to the original drawing, and adjust the placement of the elements and the opening square. It is very important to create the Top Layer first because the decorative elements will decide the location of the opening square.

 

 



 

Mid Layer

Use the 2 squares of the Top Layer as the base, select the small square (3.7x3.7"), and use the "Outline" function to create an opening of 3.5x3.5", so the opening will be at the exact location

 

 Slot Layer

  1. With the small square of the Mid Layer, "Outline" it to 4.5x4.5",
  2. Stretch the top edge of the square out of the top edge of the large square, and make sure to change to "unlock" in the "Size" menu first
  3. Select both the large square and the new rectangle, pull down the "Combine" menu, and use "Subtract" to perform a cutout, this will create a "U" shape, which will be the "Slot Layer"

 

 

 

Backing Layer

Insert a 6x6" square, here I add the logo and the name of my business, you can add whatever information you like, or just leave it blank

 

 

*** For some images, I use the engraving option to get the orange solid fill for a better visual purpose

 

Now, we are ready to connect XCS to your machine and load your material to cut, for cardboard, I use 70/10/1, and for 1.5mm basswood, I use 100/4/1.

Step 5

Cutting & Assembly

Cutting:

Since the cutting of this design is very straightforward, so I'm not going through it in steps. But I do have a few pointers:

  1. For better and more consistent results, place material in the same orientation, especially when you use cardboard
  2. For the Backing Layer, if you intend to add any messages, make sure to choose a good side to do so.
  3. Since the decorative elements are intricate, it will be good to have Air Assist

Assembly:

  1. Dry Fit, I always do a dry fit, put all the pieces together, and make sure everything looks right, especially in this design, the opening square is not in the center, so make sure all the pieces have the same orientation, and if you have any engraving in the backing, check the orientation as well.
  2. Do not over-glue, and always apply the glue on the less detailed piece, after you put the two pieces together, make sure all sides are lined up, then press hard or clamp them together.
  3. Have a damp rag, paper towel or baby wipe handy. Wipe off any excess glue right away before gets dry.

 

About the frame:

  1. This frame measures 6"x6", with an image opening of 3.5"x3.5" square
  2. The size of the slot is 4.5"x5.5", so having at least 0.5" material around your image is essential, after you insert it into the slot, your image will be in the right window

 

Design Files
Oriental Frame.xcs
frame
picture frame
chinese
asian
wood panel
panel window
panel door
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