It’s no secret that I’ve chosen Wilcom's EmbroideryStudio throughout my career as an embroidery digitizer. I have been lucky enough to put their latest version through its paces recently, and I’m happy to share some of the reasons why I think EmbroideryStudio e4 is worth the upgrade. As someone who loves machine embroidery both as an art and as an industry, Wilcom’s commitment to improve both the artistry and the efficiency of their software keeps me coming back for more, and ES e4 is no exception.
Whether you are an EmbroideryStudio user who hasn’t jumped on the update yet, an erstwhile digitizer looking for your first software, or someone considering the switch from another package, I’m confident to tell you to get ES e4.
Rather than run through a generic list of all the improvements in this latest version, I’m going to cover the refinements, new features, and added values that make me personally want to recommend ES e4, why I think these improvements are important to your business, and how they can make your work easier.
The Importance of Lettering
My favorite improvements in ES e4 center around lettering. You might ask why someone who loves ultra-detailed designs is so excited about a basic tool, but my experience is that adding lettering to designs or creating type setups is something every shop will do almost every day they operate. To my mind, there’s almost nothing more essential for embroiderers and digitizers of all levels than a solid lettering package; You’ll use it so frequently that any inefficiency will add up to major lost time, and since lettering is critical to name-emblazoned pieces that are very personal to your customers, poor quality is sure to cause problems and hurt feelings. As important as lettering is, when it comes to standard titles, team names, or personalization, I need to save time and automate; business won’t slow down enough to digitize every letter in every name manually.
"there are numerous improvements and additions to the way type is handled
that make ES e4 even more efficient for type."
With other software packages I’ve tried, I couldn’t trust the quality of the pre-digitized lettering and I found the tools hard to use, but Wilcom’s text handling is both user friendly and inherently produces a higher quality result than those other commercial solutions. Though EmbroideryStudio has always had great lettering, in ES e4, the text tools have gotten a major upgrade. If it weren’t enough that there are simply 25 more typefaces to give you a library of over 200 professionally digitized fonts, including 3D foam type, the interface and engine have been greatly improved. From making it easier to select the right kind of typeface with categorized fonts, to better conversion of non-embroidery fonts, to a versatile new Monogram tool, there are numerous improvements and additions to the way type is handled that make EmbroideryStudio e4 even more efficient for type.
Making ‘Interesting’ Text with Lettering Art
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked to take an existing team logo I’ve created for a school or club and add text above and below. More often than not, the team in question would have nearly no idea how they’d want the text to look, asking for a range of concepts with different envelope shapes and treatments to make the text ‘more interesting’.
"With almost no time investment,
I can show any team a range of type treatments and email them a PDF directly
with ES e4's built in PDF engine and improved mock-ups."
In previous versions of EmbroideryStudio, I’d have to manually edit several configurations after applying an envelope just to create the initial previews from which the organizers could choose. In ES e4, there’s a library of predefined Lettering Art shapes, including the most common arcs, arches, bridges and perspective warps, and each can be applied to a text object with a single click. With almost no time investment, I can show any team a range of type treatments and email them a PDF directly with ES e4's built in PDF engine and improved mock-ups.
Better Branding Through Custom Type
"ES e4 has made using specific typefaces even easier"
Sometimes there’s no avoiding custom fonts. For corporate customers who required a specific typeface for personalization, my company would often invest time in digitizing a font specifically for their use. With so many companies becoming more aware of design and branding, we had several critical accounts who required these specialty fonts. It’s why we never had a system without the added Font Creator element. We won jobs based entirely on our ability to reproduce these typefaces for personalization when other shops simply referred them to the standard set of glyphs.
ES e4 has made using specific typefaces even easier; with the addition of the OpenType format and improved automatic conversion quality, you can create the odd name or two that requires a specific font directly from any font, whether True Type or Open Type that’s installed on your machine. If a company’s volume made it worthwhile to create a pre-digitized font, you can also save time with ES e4, since you can create the initial letters from any installed font and edit the glyphs before employing the Font creator, saving you the time of creating them piece by piece.
Whether you choose to use converted type or create a native Wilcom font, ES e4 can make it easier.
Tools That Make Sense
"EmbroideryStudio e4 can make digitizing, editing, and proofing easier."
The ease of locating and using your tools makes a huge difference in the efficiency of your daily operations as a digitizer. ES e4 has majorly revamped the UI to make things friendlier to find for new and experienced digitizers, added the ability to utilize today’s high-resolution displays, and created new ways of interacting with shapes to suit every digitizer’s way of working with their source materials. Add that to a greatly improved way of visualizing a design’s run before it goes to production, and you can see how ES e4 can make digitizing, editing, and proofing easier.
Graphical Digitizing Tools
For long-time digitizers like me, ES e4 still has the time-tested methods of creating columns of stitching and areas of fill that EmbroideryStudio has always had, but for new digitizers, one-time graphic designers, and those coming from other systems, ES e4 adds intuitive graphical digitizing tools. These new tools make sense, allowing any user to make shapes without express knowledge of embroidery or previous versions of EmbroideryStudio, enabling a simple method to create shapes to which multiple stitch types can be applied.
"... using the Open and Closed shape tools gave me the flexibility
to create a shape and move from stitch type to stitch type,
or to reuse shapes without the extra cumbersome step of
converting the shape from one stitch type to another."
Though my old-school tendencies have me reaching for the same stitch-type locked object creation methods, I quickly found that using the Open and Closed shape tools gave me the flexibility to create a shape and move from stitch type to stitch type, or to reuse shapes without the extra cumbersome step of converting the shape from one stitch type to another. When you need to create a simple bordered and filled shape, like a large jersey number, you can quickly create a closed shape, fill it with a standard tatami or other fill stitch, copy and paste it in place, and apply a satin border to the new shape with a single click in the Outlines toolbar, all without recreating or converting.
Seeing the Big Picture with the New Stitch Player
Whether I’m teaching a new digitizer or helping a decorator troubleshoot a design, one of my first stops for diagnosis is the same as my last stop when I digitized for my shop; on-screen design replay. ES e4’s new Stitch Player is a massive improvement over previous versions, providing intuitive controls that allow you to set a range of stitches in the display and to see each color graphically represented, side by side with a stitch count and easily accessible controls for playback. The new Stitch Player controls make isolating a trouble-spot to find errors in sequencing and execution easy, allowing you to manually ‘scrub’ through your design.
"...the updated Stitch Player can make a difference
in your understanding of how designs run."
Better controls aren’t all you get with ES e4’s new player; you can now replay with TrueView enabled, making it easier to see how the elements overlap and layer, especially on multi-color, complex designs. This seemingly simple update is great for embroiderers of all levels. If you are learning to digitize, one of the best things you can do is analyze how a good design is put together. The new Stitch Player gives you familiar, media-player styled tools to move through a design and analyse the way it runs with ease. If you are an established business, you want to make your designs more efficient and to make sure your digitized files are as problem-free as possible before they get to a machine.
With the new Stitch Player, it’s easier to visualize color sequences and to check for proper layering and pathing before you sample, avoiding gross errors. No matter your level, the updated Stitch Player can make a difference in your understanding of how designs run.
Bouncing Back and Forth with Tabs
It’s easy to overlook the amount of time you spend swapping back and forth between windows, but the waste and the effort adds up. I usually worked with customers for many years as a digitizer, meaning that I’d create version upon version of their designs, adding and removing elements for special occasions, new locations, or even just to create alternate versions of designs for a new garment or branding initiative. This often meant using an original logo file, or in the case of companies with multiple brands, several original logo files, copying elements into the new configurations, sometimes from several sources.
"Having a centralized tab bar means never searching for a design
or losing track of a hidden, minimized window in your stack."
With previous EmbroideryStudio versions, I’d have to pop into a menu and swap back and forth between windows in order to work between designs, but in the improved interface of ES e 4, designs are managed through a tabbed bar above the design window, making switching simple. Having a centralized tab bar means never searching for a design or losing track of a hidden, minimized window in your stack.
Shining New Standards
"...every decorator can benefit from the ability
to create stunning multimedia designs
and build objects quickly..."
I was amazed to see that some incredibly valuable features in the extended EmbroideryStudio toolkit have gone from add-on elements to standard inclusions in ES e4. When I first started designing for rhinestones, I was overjoyed to add the Bling tools to my previous version of EmbroideryStudio. Now, the Bling design tools, with their ability to easily place stones and fill areas with automated handling of spacing and overlaps are part of the standard package, joining seven total elements that are inclusive in ES e4. My favorites beyond Bling include Vector Drawing directly inside EmbroideryStudio designs, Auto Shaping, which lets those of us who’ve learned how to build vector graphics use familiar shaping tools to weld and intersect both vectors and embroidery objects, and Virtual Decoration.
"Virtual Decoration allows you to create high-resolution graphics
that are ready for digital printing."
Virtual Decoration is another feature that deserves special attention: Whether you have a customer who is looking for a unique photo-realistic stitched look in their next printed piece, a customer for whom the price of creating art for print isn’t feasible but for whom you have a quality stitch file, or you are looking to save stitching time on a project with an immediate turnaround, Virtual Decoration allows you to create high-resolution graphics that are ready for digital printing. I love Virtual Decoration for creating quick, inexpensive emblems with sublimation on polyester twill and for adding the look of embroidery to ultra-light garments without the weight of stitching and stabilizer.
Now that these tools are standard in ES e4, every decorator can benefit from the ability to create stunning multimedia designs and build objects quickly, all without adding a single element to their package.
Feature-rich and Ready to Deliver
The features and functions I mentioned are only a small part of what makes Wilcom's EmbroideryStudio e4 worthwhile; from my standpoint as a digitizer, it’s easy for me to show you the tools I’d use in design creation, but ES e4 has much more to offer.
"ES e4 has matured into software that gives you tools
to help you sell your products,
manage design information, and get jobs done."
Far from just a digitizing package, ES e4 has matured into software that gives you tools to help you sell your products, manage design information, and get jobs done. If you want quality digitizing, ease of use, and tools that are tuned to help you succeed, you owe it to yourself to see what EmbroideryStudio e4 can do.
"I make, teach, write & live machine embroidery, apparel decoration, & design."
Erich Campbell is a very well respected embroidery industry expert. He worked as a full time embroidery digitizer for over 15 years before he took his current position as Relationship Manager at DecoNetwork, the apparel decoration industry’s premier cloud-based e-commerce and shop management system.
He regularly writes for Printwear Magazine and the UK’s Images Magazine and contributes to the MrXStitch.com blog. He also has his own blog on his website www.erichcampbell.com
EmbroideryStudio e4 makes the world's favourite digitizing software even better. It is the embroidery software choice for professional digitizers, custom embroidery shops, industry trainers and educators and apparel decorators, who are serious about commercial embroidery.
Contact your local Wilcom distributor now and have a chat about how EmbroideryStudio e4 can make your business more efficient and productive!