Draft ShapeString tutorial
|Time to complete|
|r-frank and vocx|
|0.17 and above|
This tutorial was originally written by Roland Frank (†2017, r-frank), and it was rewritten and re-illustrated by vocx.
This tutorial describes a method to create 3D text and use it with solid objects. We will discuss how to
- insert outlined text with the tool,
- extrude it to be a 3D solid with ,
- position it in 3D space using placement, and (it uses a sketch as auxiliary geometry), and
- engrave the text by applying a boolean .
To use ShapeStrings inside the PartDesign Workbench go to the end of this tutorial.
Final model of the engraved text.
The Sketcher Workbench is used briefly to draw an auxiliary line. More information about the tools of this workbench can be found in
- 1.1. Press the button, or press in the numerical pad of your keyboard, to change the view to isometric to visualize the 3D solids better.
- 1.2. Press the 3D view so that all elements are seen in the view. button whenever you add objects in order to pan and zoom the
- 1.3. Hold 3D view. while you click to select multiple items. If you selected something wrong or want to de-select everything, just click on empty space in the
Create the basic shape
2. Insert a primitive cube by clicking on.
- 2.1. Select
Cubein the tree view.
- 2.2. Change the dimensions in the Data tab of the property editor.
- 2.3. Change Width to
3. Create a chamfer.
- 3.1. Select the upper edge (
Edge6) on the front face of the
Cubein the 3D view.
- 3.2. Press .
- 3.3. In the Chamfer edges task panel go to Selection, choose Select edges. As Fillet type choose
Constant length, then set Length to
- 3.4. Press
. This will create a
- 3.5. In the tree view, select
Chamfer, in the View tab change the value of Line Width to
Base object created from a cube and a chamfer operation.
Insert the ShapeString
4. Switch to the Draft Workbench.
- 4.1. Make sure nothing is selected in the tree view.
- 4.2. Establish the working plane to XY (Top) by clicking on and pressing .
5. Insert the text "FreeCAD".
- 5.1. Press on .
- 5.2. Change X to
- 5.3. Change Y to
- 5.4. Change Z to
- 5.5. Or press .
- 5.6. Change String to
FreeCAD; change Height to
5 mm; change Tracking to
- 5.7. Make sure Font file points to a valid font, for example,
/usr/share/fonts/truetype/dejavu/DejaVuSans.ttf. Press the ellipsis to open the operating system's dialog to find a font.
- 5.8. Press
. This will create a
- 5.9. Recompute the document by pressing .
- 5.10. In the tree view, select
ShapeString, in the View tab change the value of Line Width to
- 5.11. In the tree view, select
Chamfer, in the View tab change the value of Visibility to
false, or press in the keyboard. This will hide the object, so you can see the
- 5.12. To see the ShapeString from above change the view by pressing , or in the keyboard.
- 5.13. To restore the view to isometric, press , or in the keyboard.
Text created as a ShapeString, that is, as a collection of edges in a plane.
Create the solid 3D text
6. Switch back to the Part Workbench.
- 6.1. In the tree view, select
ShapeString, then press .
- 6.2. In the Extrude task panel go to Direction, choose Along normal; in Length, set Along to
1 mm; also tick the Create solid option.
- 6.3. Press
. This will create an
- 6.4. In the tree view, select
Extrude, in the View tab change the value of Line Width to
Text created as a ShapeString, and turned into a solid by extrusion.
Insert auxiliary sketch for positioning
Now we will draw a simple sketch that will be used as auxiliary geometry to position the ShapeString extrusion.
7. In the tree view, select
Extrude, and press in the keyboard to make it invisible.
8. Switch to the Sketcher Workbench.
9. In the tree view, select
Chamfer, and press in the keyboard to make it visible.
- 9.1. Choose the sloped face created by the chamfer operation (
- 9.2. Click on
FlatFace, and press .
. In the Sketch attachment dialog, select
- 9.3. The view should adjust automatically so that the camera is parallel to the selected face.
- 9.4. Draw a horizontal line in a general position on top of the face. The length is not important; we are just interested in its position.
- 9.5. Constrain the left endpoint to be
2.5 mmaway from the local X axis and from the local Y axis, using and .
- 9.6. Since the sketch is just an auxiliary object, we don't need to have it fully constrained. You can do this if you wish by assigning a fixed distance, say,
20 mm, again with .
- 9.7. Close the sketch.
Line being created with the sketcher, with constraints.
Sketch line created on top of the solid face, to be used as reference guide for positioning the extruded text.
Positioning the solid text in 3D space
10. In the tree view, select
Extrude, and press in the keyboard to make it visible.
- 11.1. Tick the option Apply incremental changes.
- 11.2. Change the Rotation to
Rotation axis with angle; Axis to
Z, and Angle to
90 deg, then click on . This will apply a rotation around the Z-axis, and will reset the Angle field to zero.
- 11.3. Change the Rotation to
Rotation axis with angle; Axis to
Y, and Angle to
45 deg, then click on . This will apply a rotation around the Y-axis, and will reset the Angle field to zero.
- 11.4. Click on to close the dialog.
12. Switch again to the Draft Workbench.
- 12.1. Switch to "Wireframe" draw style with View → Draw style → Wireframe, or press the button in the view toolbar. This will allow you to see the objects behind other objects.
- 12.2. Make sure the Draft Snap "Snap to endpoint" method is active. This can be done from the menu Draft → Snapping → Toggle On/Off, and then → Endpoint, or by pressing the and buttons in the Snap toolbar.
13. In the tree view, select
- 13.1. Click on .
- 13.2. In the 3D view click on the upper left corner point of the
Extrudeobject (1), and then click on the leftmost point in the line drawn with the sketcher (2).
- 13.3. If is active, as soon as you move the pointer close to a vertex, you should see that it attaches to it exactly.
- Note: if you have problems snapping to vertices, make sure only the method is enabled. Having multiple snapping methods active at the same time may make it difficult to select the right feature.
- 13.4. The extruded text should now be inside the body of the
The extruded ShapeString should be moved to the position of the sketched line that lies on the face of the base body.
Extruded ShapeString positioned in the
Creating engraved text
14. Switch back to the Part Workbench.
- 14.1. Switch to "As is" draw style with View → Draw style → As is, or press the button in the view toolbar. This will show all objects with the normal shading and color.
- 14.2. In the tree view, select
Sketch, and press in the keyboard to make it invisible.
15. In the tree view select
Chamfer first, and then
- 15.1. Then press
Cutobject. This is the final object.
. This will create a
- Note: the order in which you select the objects is important for the cut operation. The base object is selected first, and the subtracting object comes at the end.
- 15.2. In the tree view, select
Cut, in the View tab change the value of Line Width to
Final model of a filleted cube, with carved text created from a ShapeString, Extrude, and boolean Cut operations.
Engraving 3D text with the PartDesign Workbench
A similar process as described above can be done with the PartDesign Workbench.
- Create the first.
- Create a , make it active, and add a base solid by adding primitives, or using a Sketch and extruding it with .
- Move the
ShapeStringobject into the active body.
- Attach the
ShapeStringobject to one of the faces of the solid, or to a , using .
- Now create a
ShapeString, in order to produce an additive or a subtractive feature of the base body, respectively. or a from the
See the forum thread, How to use ShapeStrings in PartDesign.