Learn Inkscape for Glowforge Laser Cutter
3.6 (3 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
39 students enrolled

Learn Inkscape for Glowforge Laser Cutter

Learn how to design vector graphics for laser cutting
3.6 (3 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
39 students enrolled
Created by J.E. Moores
Last updated 3/2020
English
English
Current price: $16.99 Original price: $24.99 Discount: 32% off
5 hours left at this price!
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This course includes
  • 1.5 hours on-demand video
  • 7 downloadable resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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What you'll learn
  • Design using Inkscape
  • Generate vector graphics (SVG files)
  • Run a Glowforge laser cutter
Requirements
  • Download the free program Inkscape to your computer.
  • Access to a Glowforge or other laser cutter.
Description

Interested in laser cutting? Learn how to program Inkscape for a Glowforge laser cutter. If you have a Glowforge at your school, library, work, maker space, church, or home and want to learn how to program SVG cut paths, or advance your ability to design for laser cutting, this course is for you. We start out by downloading the free vector program: Inkscape. Then I provide a Glowforge Template for you to use for your first project. You will learn how to import images and photos for laser engraving, scoring, cut out text and words, and how to use color in Inkscape to organize your tasks later on in the Glowforge App. In no time strange new items once only in your imagination will be in your two hands. Take this laser cutting course to learn how to use Inkscape to harness the awesome power of a Glowforge! You could easily apply this knowledge to any laser cutter requiring SVG files.

All the projects in these videos can be done using Medium size Proof Grade 1/8" plywood or draft board from the Glowforge shop.

Who this course is for:
  • Makers
  • Artists
  • Teachers
  • Anyone who wants to get more from their laser cutter.
Course content
Expand all 10 lectures 01:31:56
+ Introduction to Inkscape for Glowforge
1 lecture 00:59

Learn how to design for the Glowforge laser cutter using the free vector program Inkscape. And then when we are finished, we dance.

Preview 00:59
+ Download Inkscape & Create A Glowforge Template
1 lecture 03:04

Create a Glowforge Template to get started:

  1. You must first download a copy of the free vector program Inkscape from: inkscape.org.

  2. Second, open Inkscape and create a file called: glowforge-template.svg by following the video instructions.

Preview 03:04
+ Making nodes on the grid
1 lecture 03:51

It is time to get familiar with the best way to draw out your design. We will start out using my 3 favorite Inkscape tools which are the first top 2, and then the 12th one down the left side of Inkscape. From top down when you hover your mouse over them they read:

  • 1st Tool: Select and transform objects (looks like a black arrow)

  • 2nd Tool: Edit paths by nodes (little pointy thing editing nodes)

  • 12th Tool: Draw Bezier curves and straight lines (looks like a pen drawing nodes)

I start with the Draw Bezier curves tool. When you click on the grid it will create a node because this tool is a MAGIC NODE PEN. It's all about nodes. Using the grid to guide you, click and drag out a square as I do in the video. Each square on the grid is 1/8 inch. Make a square that is 3 squares across on each side. This makes a teeny tiny 3/8" square.

  1. Then by using the Edit paths by nodes tool add and extend the little tab.

  2. Continue following the video until you have the same thing to complete the lesson.

  3. Save your file. Save As > peg-key.svg

NOTE FOR MAC USERS: There are a few differences between the PC version of Inkscape I am using and the Mac version. Here is how to find these functions on the Mac version of Inkscape:

  • Resize Page to Selection: File > Document Properties > + Resize Page to Content > Resize Page to Drawing or Selection

  • Align & Distribute: Object > Align & Distribute

Preview 03:51
+ Creating Curves and Shapes
1 lecture 08:08

Open the file: peg-key.swf in Inkscape that you made from the previous lesson and follow along to make a laser pet of your very own. Play around with the nodes and curves along the grid. Double click any line to add a node. Pull and stretch out shapes. Be sure to go on and off the grid as needed by tuning off the snap to grid feature. See what you get. Explore! Experiment!

Name your new character. Rename and save the file. Save as > character.svg

NOTE FOR MAC USERS: There are a few differences between the PC version of Inkscape I am using and the Mac version. Here is how to find these functions on the Mac version of Inkscape:

  • Resize Page to Selection: File > Document Properties > + Resize Page to Content > Resize Page to Drawing or Selection

  • Align & Distribute: Object > Align & Distribute

Preview 08:08
+ Using color in Inkscape to create layers in Glowforge App
1 lecture 11:13

The Glowforge can engrave, score and cut. When you design on Inkscape choose a different color for each task. Funny Bunny has blue set to score, red set to cut the inner details, and black set to cut the final outer perimeter.

You can choose any colors you like, but each step and task requires its own color to separate it into layers within the Glowforge App.

My reason for this order is that I like to do any surface engraving or scoring first on the clean uncut wood. Then I want all the little inside detail cuts to be done second. Most importantly I want the outside perimeter cut last so that the wood is supported for all the inside cuts. If you cut the outside perimeter first, when the wood shape drops down, the rest of the cuts are not lined up right. We keep it simple and only score and cut for this lesson. Come see how Funny Bunny finally gets a face.

PS: Don't look now, but my funny-bunny.svg is bundled with this lesson! Feel free to burn your own Funny Bunny who is designed to be cut from Proofgrade Medium (1/8" thick) Plywood on your Glowforge! Follow the colors above for the Glowforge layer settings. Laser Pets are awesome and make a good luck mascot for your studio. Plus you will need Funny Bunny for the next project! Let's keep going!

NOTE FOR MAC USERS: There are a few differences between the PC version of Inkscape I am using and the Mac version. Here is how to find these functions on the Mac version of Inkscape:

  • Resize Page to Selection: File > Document Properties > + Resize Page to Content > Resize Page to Drawing or Selection

  • Align & Distribute: Object > Align & Distribute

Giving Funny Bunny a face
11:13
+ Engrave, Cut, and Score
1 lecture 06:05

Glowforge can do 3 things. It can engrave, cut, and score. In the last project where we turned the Peg-Key into Funny Bunny we used the cut and score feature. Glowforge can engrave any photo or image, but it works best with high contrast black and white images. I prefer black icons with a clear alpha background for best results. I've included 2 below for you.

During this lesson we will import a high contrast image into Inkscape for engraving, and laser etch it on the front of Funny Bunny's shirt. I put the JEMTOY logo on mine, but I have included 2 images (a heart and a star) for you to apply to funny-bunny.svg (download this file from last lesson).

Because the Glowforge App can see color, I design Funny Bunny's parts different colors to separate the tasks. The JEMTOY logo, the heart, or star will engrave best as HD Graphic. Funny Bunny's blue eyes will be set to score. His red smile and the red square peg hole are little details that are set to be laser cut, as well as the outer black perimeter, which will cut last.

Each color becomes a layer in the app so you can position its order when printing. It does not matter what colors you choose, but you must design your steps in different colors to take advantage of this unique Glowforge feature.

Download the heart and star, open up funny-bunny.svg in Inkscape, and let's get started!

NOTE FOR MAC USERS: There are a few differences between the PC version of Inkscape I am using and the Mac version. Here is how to find these functions on the Mac version of Inkscape:

  • Resize Page to Selection: File > Document Properties > + Resize Page to Content > Resize Page to Drawing or Selection

  • Align & Distribute: Object > Align & Distribute

Laser Engraving
06:05
+ Converting Text to Vector
1 lecture 19:18

Text can only be engraved on the Glowforge unless you convert it to vector. Once it is in vector format you can use it to score or cut out a word or name.

In this lesson you will convert text into vector and make little word cut outs. You can apply this technique to pretty much any high contrast black shape, but we're making words today.

First open the file: glowforge-template.svg in Inkscape. Choose the text editor tool (that big letter A down on the left side). Type out a word or name onto the grid in a font that is in a script style, meaning, all the letters are connected together like fancy handwriting.

In this lesson I use the font: Cookie but you can use any font that is of a similar hand written script style. You want a font where all the letters link together with little serif tails between each. Because this will be cut out of wood, look for a font that is fat and chunky instead of fine and dainty so that the final laser cut object will have substance.

Using the arrow select tool, highlight over the text > Export Selection to PNG. Give it a name.png > Export.

Go to Edit > Import the PNG just created. Now it is not really text any more. It is just black shapes on a clear alpha background. NOTE: It could be any black silhouette or shape in PNG format with clear alpha background for this to work. This technique is an easy way to turn any shape into vector nodes which can cut, engrave, and score paths.

Highlight the PNG and go to Path > Trace Bitmap which opens a menu. Click OK and it seems as if nothing happens, but it did! Close the menu. Click and drag the text to move it. You will find directly lined up on top of the PNG is now the vector form. Delete the PNG keep the vector. You can now edit the Nodes to create a cut or score file.

I have included the SVG file from the video.

NOTE FOR MAC USERS: There are a few differences between the PC version of Inkscape I am using and the Mac version. Here is how to find these functions on the Mac version of Inkscape:

  • Resize Page to Selection: File > Document Properties > + Resize Page to Content > Resize Page to Drawing or Selection

  • Align & Distribute: Object > Align & Distribute

  • Export PNG image: File > Export PNG Image

Laser Cut Words, Names & Text
19:18
+ Laser Engraving a Photo
1 lecture 12:25

Here are the steps for engraving a photo using a Glowforge laser cutter.

High contrast black and white images work best.

I turn my photo to grayscale and bump up the contrast using a free photo editor called Irfanview in this video. You can use Photoshop or any other photo editor program you prefer. Once your image is ready...

Open glowforge-template.svg in Inkscape. Import > Your Photo or Image.

Click it with the Arrow Tool.

Make sure the Proportions are Locked by clicking the little lock up top.

At the top of the screen Adjust the Height and Width you want in inches.

Use the Circle Tool to make a little hole if you want to hang it. I made mine in red to separate it from the black cut, so it can be cut first in the Glowforge App.

Use the Square Tool to create a border. Adjust the corners to make it feel smooth. I have it set to black.

If rectangles are not your thing, you could create any shape ~ just like we did in the first few lessons. Use the Inkscape grid and create a square. Turn off grid snapping and start adding nodes and pulling shapes around until you have what you want.

NOTE FOR MAC USERS: There are a few differences between the PC version of Inkscape I am using and the Mac version. Here is how to find these functions on the Mac version of Inkscape:

  • Resize Page to Selection: File > Document Properties > + Resize Page to Content > Resize Page to Drawing or Selection

  • Align & Distribute: Object > Align & Distribute

Prepping a Photo for Laser Engraving
12:25
+ Creating a Design with Multiple Parts
1 lecture 16:25

Here I blast through a design so you can refresh your memory on all the new tools and Inkscape commands you have learned so far. I use 1/8" Medium Draft Board without tape for this project so you can see what it looks like, but you can continue using whatever material you've already been using all along.

To make pieces that fit, peg, and lock together you have to consider not only your design, but the thickness of your wood. The Medium Proof Grade Plywood is 1/8" thick, so the glowforge-template.svg is set in 1/8" increments. Each little square is 1/8" inch. This is why the peg in the peg-key.svg fits in the hole. Both dimensions are 1/8" inch.

You can make many types of boxes, enclosures, and structures. Just make sure the tabs and holes are 1/8" square and you can create objects and models made with multiple pieces.

I have included funny-bunny-tree-house.svg for you to play with.

NOTE FOR MAC USERS: There are a few differences between the PC version of Inkscape I am using and the Mac version. Here is how to find these functions on the Mac version of Inkscape:

  • Resize Page to Selection: File > Document Properties > + Resize Page to Content > Resize Page to Drawing or Selection

  • Align & Distribute: Object > Align & Distribute

Funny Bunny Tree House
16:25
+ Creating Fills to Engrave
1 lecture 10:28

To Engrave a shape: First create a shape on the grid using the Draw Bezier Tool. Then go to Fill and Stroke, and choose a Solid Fill and remove the Stroke.

Later in the Glowforge App set the image to: Engrave > SD Graphic.

I had fun making things with you.

Here, you can have the file: moon-pendant.svg as seen in the video. A fun thing to try when you open the svg in the Glowforge App is set the moon to Score and it will create an outline instead of a solid engrave. Having created the shape in Inkscape allows you to create Scores or Engraves using the same vector image.

See ya. Jay from JEMTOY ~

NOTE FOR MAC USERS: There are a few differences between the PC version of Inkscape I am using and the Mac version. Here is how to find these functions on the Mac version of Inkscape:

  • Resize Page to Selection: File > Document Properties > + Resize Page to Content > Resize Page to Drawing or Selection

  • Align & Distribute: Object > Align & Distribute

  • Export PNG image: File > Export PNG Image

Moon Pendant
10:28