Adobe Illustrator: Templates + Swatches?

Hi all,

I use Adobe Illustrator CC when designing for the Glowforge, and today I wanted to get my default Illustrator setup better.


  1. Glowforge colors (in palette order) easily available
  2. Default artboard size is the maximum printable area of the GF
  3. All of the above easily available when creating a new file

TL;DR I created a Illustrator Template which sets up my color swatches and artboard size nicely, however it’s not quite as easy as I’d like to create a new file.

For those who want to use it, download this template: (157.7 KB)

On the Mac, copy it into:
/Applications/Adobe\ Illustrator\ 2021/Cool\ Extras.localized/en_US/Templates/
(it doesn’t have to be here, but I think this is the “correct” place for templates)
You might also want to put a link to this file on your dock or Desktop, or somewhere easily accessible for quick starts.

Then when I create a new document, I select “New from Template…” (Command-Shift-N)

And now my new documents start just how I want them.

The piece I couldn’t figure out, is I wish this template would show up on the normal “New file” dialog:

I poked around for a while trying to get it in here with no success. Let me know if any Illustrator experts know the secret magic :smiley:


PS… Special thanks to this thread, that talks about the color palette ordering, and where I got my Glowforge swatch from:

PPS… thanks to this video by Chris Masto, who also has some good tips for setting up Illustrator for Glowforge’n:


@chris1 video, one of them, went into adding it as a default selection.


Good idea! :slightly_smiling_face:

You’re a Regular now…you should have access to add this directly to the Tips and Tricks section if you like. There are probably a bunch of new Illustrator users who haven’t set up a template yet.

(Or you can click the Pencil icon next to the title and just shift it in there.)


My only issue with this is, I was under the impression that your artboard should always be 20x12 to avoid issues when opening in the gfui. Do you get consistent results with actual print area size?

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The 20x12 just means you never need to worry if Adobe (or any program you’re using with the :glowforge:) decides to change the default dpi. If you’re willing to track that then the art board size isn’t necessary. For many of us it’s far easier to stick with that size then worry about tracking dpi updates :slight_smile:


My template is 12 by 20 because that’s material size, it also includes a base layer with a rectangle boundary set to the max cutting size, which I use as a placement component when importing to the Glowforge UI. I arrange all of my parts before uploading, the rectangle ensures that all of the parts are within the usable range and that material usage has been optimized. Once the file is uploaded the rectangle is ignored and the file is processed.


When I “new from template” I don’t get that black screen, instead I get a normal open dialog box that goes to the default templates folder and my GF template is the first one so it’s been pretty easy :grimacing: (I’m on a pc, keyboard shortcut ctrl +shift+n)

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Yes. I either:

  1. Export to SVG, and make sure [ ] Responsive is left unchecked.
  2. Copy/paste directly into GFUI

Both have consistently sized things.

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Does anyone know for sure that this 20x12 magic size does anything? It very well seems it could, however, I found as long as I don’t check [ ] Responsive, when exporting my SVGs, that Illustrator includes the precise size in the SVG and GFUI respects that, and thus DPI doesn’t matter.

This is a good idea. I might adopt that.
I was using 20x12, but a couple times I designed something slightly too big and I couldn’t’ cut it, which is why I reduced it down.

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Yea, that’s what happens for me too. But, if for example I open Illustrator from a cold start, and I click “Create new” or some such thing, I get that black screen. It’s related to the cloud portions of Adobe CC I think.

I figure with a bit more fiddling I could get it where I want, but for now I just have my template on my dock so I click that for a cold start instead of just running Illustrator.

Yeah, the 20x12 means absolute positioning rather than relative.

I usually just make a 20x12, and then as I throw shapes onto it, I periodically just do a SELECT ALL and make sure it is within print area size.

We do - it was Dan who described it as magic even :stuck_out_tongue:


I vaguely remember @dan having a template that he once posted that included pieces he commonly used, like the Serrated tabs - no more glue but I can’t find it on the site now.

Awesome. Thanks for the reference.

Sounds like this magic size helps with laying things out as they appear on the artboard, rather than being reposition however the GFUI sees fit.

It doesn’t sound like it would necessarily affect DPI/scaling issues.

It does though…not sure how it works, but it’s a workaround that was designed by Tony before he left that takes into account the various export dpi’s from different design software (including some of the more obscure ones that very few people use.)

(Actually, it’s the ratio that does it at 5 to 3, but it’s generally easier to just remember to tell everyone to design on a 20" x 12" artboard, since really tight edges on the artboards can cause other loading errors sometimes.)

They did eventually allow for other size ratios, but that one is the “always works” fallback position.


I think you mean 5 to 3.

I messed with this a bit and mostly found that the way I export from Illustrator does not include any information about the artboard size. So I’m either “safe” from this optimization, or I miss out of it :wink:

I actually rather not rely on these kind of magic numbers, as they seem like hacks to deal with some of the difficulty around consistent export from various software.

I suspect if you “Save as…” in Illustrator, or possibly use the “Export for screens” options, then your artboard may be taken into account, and you may benefit from this.

I continue to learn about Illustrator and GFUI’s peculiarities :smiley:


Oops! Typo! You are correct! :smile:

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