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What does Stained Glass Software do?

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  • Written By: Mike Howells
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 17 September 2016
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Advanced stained glass software has made it possible for artists to design far more sophisticated two-dimensional stained glass windows, and even complex three-dimensional works that had previously been impossible. The staining of glass in different colors has existed as an art form since the Middle Ages. Medieval artisans meticulously stained and arranged fragments of glass in lead frames to depict saints, scenes from religious texts, and other spiritual or abstract images. Though techniques were refined and innovations made throughout the following centuries, the fundamentals of staining glass remained largely the same until the advent of the computer age in the 20th century.

The main conceit behind stained glass software is to make it easy to construct designs and templates that can be applied using modern methods. Both consumer and professional grade programs exist, with varying levels of complexity. For both however, the digital nature of stained glass software offers a number of advantages over hand-drawn methods. Among them are the ability to easily edit and change a given template without wasting materials. Computers also allow for a lot of automation of repetitive actions that would otherwise take a lot of time to do by hand, and can make precise calculations and measurements in a fraction of the time it would take a person.

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Another advantage lent by stained glass software is the ability to map designs with relative ease in three dimensions. Almost instantly, sculptors can take a difficult three-dimensional model and render it on a computer. With the right technology, laser cutters can shape glass based on the digital models with speed and precision. Though less optimal, paper templates can also be used to cut and arrange the glass by hand.

Stained glass software also makes it easy for patterns to be replicated or subtly adjusted, allowing the same design to be used for window frames of various sizes. Where previously a stained glass artist would need to painstakingly recalculate each of the various shapes in turn, modern software can resize on the fly. Each segment of a pattern is kept proportional to the original, making it convenient to apply the same design to a wide variety of frames.

The development of stained glass software, along with altogether better production methods, has made stained glass a reasonable option for in-home installations, where previously it was reserved for churches or similar buildings. Aside from aesthetics, stained glass offers a combination of privacy and sunlight that many find attractive. They lessen the need for heavy privacy drapes or blinds, and with stained glass software it is possible for homeowners themselves to create the designs, lending a sense of ownership to the process.

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