Tutorial, Fitting Text On A Tapered Cylinder

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Creating a line of text on a tapered cylinder such as the tumbler shown above can be problematic. Due to the fact that the object is tapered (conical) any artwork (text or graphics) that are designed and drawn to be horizontal will in fact curl up on the ends. The more tapered the item is, the more pronounced the resulting curl will be. There are a number of ways to calculate that curl and compensate for it, this is one I’ve found easy to use. The information on the next couple pages will teach you how to easily compensate for this effect and will allow you to create lines of text (or graphics) that run on a true horizontal around the item.

Create your artwork the size and shape desired for the item to be etched. Print it out on a piece of paper and cut it to the size of the artwork.

Wrap the artwork around the tapered cylinder. Align the artwork so that each end of the paper touches the upper edge (or rim of the glass). Using a ruler, measure the drop at the lowest point (middle of the paper). The drop will be from the upper edge of the cylinder to the upper edge of the paper. In the example above I’ve noted it is 1/8”

Using your graphics program (Corel Draw, Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape, etc) create a 3-point curve or arc that is the same length as the piece of paper used in Steps 1 and 2.

This curve will be a reverse of the curve seen in Step 2 to compensate for the drop. As noted in Step 2, the example drop was 1/8” so we create a reverse curve with the middle of the curve 1/8” HIGHER than the ends.

Using your graphics program fit the text to the curve created in Step 3. Be sure to pay attention to the Text Orientation options so that the resulting text verticals are still vertical.

If you’re working with graphics rather than text, you’ll need to apply an “Envelope” to the graphics and shape the envelope to conform to the curve.

Once your text/graphic conforms to the arc, delete the arc and print out a new copy of the artwork.

With the new print that conforms to the reversed curve, test applying it to the tapered cylinder to ensure the resulting artwork produces a horizontal baseline on the text/graphic.

When done properly, the upper edge of the paper should run parallel to the upper edge of the cylinder. As long as the tapered cylinder is a straight taper, the artwork can now be placed anywhere on the cylinder with satisfactory results.

Copyright 2013 – Arizona Glass Classes

June 2021
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