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Creating artwork with PREMIER + ECQ software – draw, lettering, design

Creating artwork with PREMIER + ECQ software – draw, lettering, design

by Elaine Theriault

Isn’t the new PREMIER+ ECQ software I introduced yesterday exciting?

I heard you say you can’t draw so the PREMIER+ ECQ software isn’t for you. Wait! There are some very cool ways you can create designs in PREMIER+ ECQ and none of them involve drawing.

While I’m very creative, my drawing skills are a wee bit on the weak side. I’ve learned practice makes perfect, especially doodling which has helped my free motion quilting. While I continue to practice my doodling and drawing on the side, I’m happy to use the tools within the PREMIER+ ECQ software to create images.

Premier + ECQ design software

Let’s get started.

Note: This post is not meant to be a tutorial. My goal is to provide you with an overview of what you can do with the PREMIER+ ECQ software. There’s a Reference Guide you can print out, and excellent online help so when you do purchase the software, you’ll have no trouble finding your way around. 

A blank canvas

Upon opening PREMIER+ ECQ and selecting the Draw tab located on the ribbon bar across the top, I get a blank canvas. Oh yes, regardless of whether it’s paper or electronic, a blank canvas can be so intimidating. That’s why I’m ignoring the Draw tab for the moment.

A blank canvas appears when opening the DRAW tab

The Insert function

I’m starting with the Insert tab which is located right next to the Draw tab.

Within the Insert tab, I’ve two options to start with;  inserting a shape or inserting lettering.

The options on the Insert tab – inserting shapes or lettering

There are 120 shapes included in the PREMIER+ ECQ software. Guess what? All those shapes can be manipulated by changing the size, eliminating or changing the thickness of the line surrounding the shape and the shapes can be skewed as well. That means those 120 shapes are just the tip of the iceberg.

It’s easy to scroll through the shapes and once I’ve found one I want to work with, I hit the button insert shape. It’s that easy to get started.

I can also insert lettering. I can insert any TrueType font or OpenType font I have on my computer. I haven’t counted how many fonts I have on my computer, but let’s just say there are lots!

I can change the size of the font, whether I want it to be bold, italic, or just ordinary font. I can also justify the font to the right, left or center.

Let’s not forget once the lettering has been inserted onto the canvas, I can continue to manipulate the lettering if I choose.

A shape and lettering have been inserted onto the canvas

In the world of embroidery and design, we have to think of two design elements when dealing with lettering and shapes. One design element is called line. Is there a line surrounding the shape? Do the letters have an outline to define them? If there is a line, that line will have been assigned a color and it’ll have a width.

The second thing to consider is the fill. Is there a fill within the closed area of the shape? What about the lettering? You might find some shapes and lettering will be designed with both line and fill.

Once you grasp the concept of those two design elements, it’ll be a whole lot easier to understand how you can manipulate a design, or shape, or lettering.

There are tools in the Design Panel on the right-hand side that control the color and width of the line (if a line has been assigned). The color of the fill is also controlled in the Design Panel – again if a fill has been selected.

In the example above, both the line and the fill are black.

Note: The fill I’m referring to is not an embroidery fill pattern. The fill is strictly a design element and indicates whether the shape is defined by color or remains void of color. 

In the photo below, I’ve changed the fill of the shape to gray from black. You can see in the shape on the canvas and also in the fill box located in the Design Panel. I’ve left the line of the shape black, but I’ve significantly increased the thickness of the line.

I’ve also rotated the shape by 45° using the Rotate 45 tool and I used the Center in Canvas tool to bring the shape into the center of the canvas. Both tools are located in the bottom right section of the Design Panel.

I also modified the lettering. The fill pattern was changed to turquoise. The line around the lettering remains black and very thin.

It’s super easy to make changes to the design. I simply select the shape or lettering group I want to change. You can see the rectangle is selected (the corner handles are showing in white) so any changes I make in the Design Panel will happen to the selected design, in this case, the shape. To make changes to the lettering, I simply deselect the shape and select the lettering.

Also, note the colors and line thicknesses that are shown in the Design Panel apply to the shape currently selected.

Changes were made to the original shapes that were inserted onto the canvas

Inserting from the Design Gallery

Wait – there’s more! There are designs included with the PREMIER+ ECQ software you can use. You can use them as they are or you can modify them to suit your needs. There are several different categories and within each category, you’ll find some designs.

The categories are Animals, Birds, Bugs and Insects, Feathers, Flowers and Leaves, Mandalas, Objects, Ornaments, Quilting, Ribbons, and Sea. That’s a nice wide range of topics to choose from.

This is a great way to get started without having to worry about creating your designs.

Designs included in the Bugs and Insects folder of the Design Gallery

I chose to work with the ladybug which is included in the Bugs and Insects category.

The other thing I didn’t mention is I can change the size of the canvas. My canvas is currently set at 200mm x 200mm and you can see I have a grid in the background. I can turn the grid off if I choose and I can modify the size of the grid. I’ve decided to keep the grid on for this work session.

The ladybug design has been inserted onto the canvas

I decided the ladybug was too small for the size of my canvas. It was easy to enlarge the ladybug by grabbing one of the corner handles and dragging to enlarge the design. Keep in mind I can drag the handle to keep the design in proportion or I can drag the handles to skew the design.

PREMIER+ ECQ works like all other drawing type programs – use the handles to mirror, rotate, resize, move, and skew the design. Using the handles in conjunction with the ctrl and shift key will do different things. You’ve got to check out the possibilities.

What I love is when you learn these basic drawing skills in your word processor, your photo editor or your drawing program, they work pretty much the same regardless of what software you use. So what you know from one software program can be applied to another. It makes the learning curve a whole easier to manage.

Note: There is no line or fill specified in the Design Panel as the entire design is chosen. 

The ladybug design has been proportionally enlarged

I want to make some changes to the ladybug. I know how to select the entire design, but I only want to change a couple of specific elements.

Notice the Film Strip on the left-hand side in the photo below? I’ve opened up the ladybug design to show each of the components that make up the ladybug. Did you notice the ladybug is essentially made up of many different shapes? And I’ve got 120 shapes I can manipulate to make my designs. Plus I can draw my own if I want.

I want to make some changes to the four smaller dots on the back of the ladybug. I can see from the Film Strip they are pieces 13, 14, 16 and 17. Using the standard tools for multiple selections (Ctrl key in this case), I can select only those four dots.

It may look like all five black dots on the back of the ladybug are selected in the photo, but you can see on the Film Strip on the left only four black dots are selected. The number beside each selected element turns blue once it’s selected. And it’s easy to select – I select using the Film Strip, not the actual design.

Notice the Fill box in the Design Panel is now black. That’s referring to the color of the dots. The Line box is empty because there is no line surrounding those dots.

Four dots on the back of the ladybug have been selected

Then I popped over to the Line tool in the Design Panel and I added a line to the dots. Remember the Line tool was blank, meaning there was no line around the edge of these black dots on the ladybug. The ladybug design was created using shapes, but no lines were added to the shapes.

I selected white as the color for the line and now you can see a white ring around each of the four dots. That was super simple to do.

White lines now appear around the four dots on the back of the ladybug

Insert File

I have one last option for inserting design elements onto my canvas. I have the option of inserting a design file. PREMIER+ ECQ will allow files with the following extensions to be inserted – *.4qb, *.ecq, or *.svg.

I found some .svg files on a site that offered designs for free and I loaded two different designs I’ll be working with later this week.

A rose .svg file was inserted onto the canvas

One more .svg file I found to play with for this week.

A mandala .svg file was loaded onto the canvas

Isn’t that incredible? I can’t draw well, but that doesn’t mean I can’t use this software to create some amazing designs.

Remember, I’m able to export these files as three different styles of embroidery designs, files for the digital cutter, as well as quilting designs for a long arm robot. Some of the files will have to be tweaked depending on what type of file I’m asking PREMIER+ ECQ to generate. I’ll be exporting some files later this week and stitching them out. Be sure to stay tuned so you can see what happens.

I’ve always been a bit leary of drawing programs. I’ve found them complex and complicated and never seemed to accomplish much. However, PREMIER+ ECQ has been super easy to work with. There’s a very comprehensive Reference Guide, but I’m loving using the online help which is easily accessed by touching the ? symbol located throughout the various sections of the main screen.

I’ve got some more great design techniques to share with you tomorrow so be sure to come back and see how easy those are to use as well.

Have a great day!


This is part 2 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 1: PREMIER+ ECQ software to spark your creativity – embroider, cut, quilt!

Go to part 3: PREMIER+ ECQ Drawing Tools


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