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Off to the Races

R. G. Raeder Sets off with Flexi8

by Thomas Franklin

Part 7 of a 8-part Series

Rick Raeder cut his design teeth creating aftermarket graphics for cars in the late 1970s. In 1985, he started his own business, R.G. Raeder Custom Graphics and Signs in Bethel, PA.

Actually, as Raeder tells it, the "custom graphics and signs" came a bit later. He began with vehicle lettering and incorporated sign making software into his workflow in 1990, to help service his auto dealing clientele. His services later expanded from cut vinyl to include wide format digital printing with the purchase of a Roland PC 600 and now a Roland Versacamm VP-300. Today, Raeder uses SA Internationalís Flexi8 to design his graphics, which adorn racecars, utility vehicles, and billboards.

Raeder describes himself as an "every day kind of guy." He was attracted to Flexi for its very short, level learning curve. "It took about a week to learn," he says. The software was more straightforward and intuitive than the competitive products Raeder compared it to.

Even then, he has found additional support helpful. "I attended an educational class at a tradeshow. I went in thinking I knew everythingóIím the typical guy who doesnít read the instruction manualóand the class unlocked so many features."

The course helped save time by extracting greater efficiencies from the design process and also addressed the frequently challenging hurdle of color management. "Color management is very tough," he admits. SA Internationalís instructor demonstrated monitor calibration and other ways to master the art of color management, but the variables remain daunting. "Everything from the pigments to the atmosphere can play havoc" with your color, Raeder says.

Most of Raederís clients give him the creative license to conceive of designs. "Iíve been fortunate to have built up a lot of trust with my clients," he notes. While the bulk of Raederís work is automotive signage, he has been more aggressive in the banner and sublimation market.

The design is rarely the challenge, Raeder says, itís the output. "Thereís a lot to learn with digital printing," he says. As soon as space permits, Raeder plans to upgrade from a 30-inch to a 54-inch Roland. Heís also looking for a facility large enough to handle his automotive work.

"I just need a bigger space," he states.

Designing digital graphics destined for wide format output eats up a lot of memory and places heavy processing demands on your computer and Raeder notes that a top of the line PC is essential.

Among Flexi8ís list of features, Raeder singles out the Select Within tool for altering single bitmaps within an object or group as particularly useful. The auto measuring tools and the ability to export files as PDFs "are other time savers," he says.

When asked what features and functionality heís looking forward to in an eventual release of Flexi9, Raeder laughs.

"Thatís hard to say, Iím still learning all you can do in 8!"

Click here to read Part 1 of this exclusive online series, How Suite it Is 
Click here to read Part 2 of this exclusive online series, Mimicking the Masters
Click here to read Part 3 of this exclusive online series, Sign Making Gets Productive
Click here to read Part 4 of this exclusive online series, Hop on the QuarkXPress
Click here to read Part 5 of this exclusive online series, Come Fly With Me
Click here to read Part 6 of this exclusive online series, A Digital Artist 

Jun2007, Digital Output

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