Hi, I am a new Glowforge owner and I am very excited but I admit I am a little overwhelmed. This was a huge investment for my wife and I. I need to get busy and figure out how to make money with this beautiful machine. My hang up is figuring out which design programs are the best. I have an old version of Adobe Photoshop but its installed on an outdated Del laptop. I have an ipad 6th gen and a mac desktop but I do not have the money yet to invest in new programs just yet. Considering Adobe Illustrator in the future… I am trying Inkscape but there is a huge learning curve and I am not sure it will be the best for some of my designs. So far my free “paint” program on the Mac has been the easiest to use. I am experienced with a Cricut, however I can not use the files from my Cricut. I have only printed some practice designs, mainly engrave and cut stuff, some small things the kids liked. I really want to explore 3d projects, boxes, shelves, organizers, cut and assemble stuff! Am I going to need a CAD program? Also I can see myself working with larger materials and without the catch tray. Any tips or links to great videos that might help me learn fast? I have seen some of the tutorials just looking for more.
We’ve all been there. There is a learning curve, even for a recovering Cricut user. The good news is that lots of us came from that world, myself included. My advice is to embrace the learning process and try to take small bites at first, learn things one step at a time.
As for which programs are “best”: that’s so subjective, but in terms of capability? Any of the big players (including Inkscape) can do a lot. Every single project I’ve done has been Inkscape-based, if you’re curious about what I’ve gotten up to you can skim these threads:
So, if you’re having problems, just ask here. Inkscape is giving you fits? Present what you’re trying to do and we can give you specific advice. Trying to design a box? Start with some box generators, then learn how to modify those, then graduate to making your own from scratch.* That sort of thing… take small bites of the mountain.
Heck, describe a specific project and ask how the rest of us would approach it, we can give you even broader advice about our workflows, which can be invaluable as you build your skills.
As for what to read to get started here, it sounds like you’ve done the absolute basics, which is great. Here’s a list of common questions and answers, some of it might be new to you:
The learning curve can be really fun and rewarding, I hope some of this have been helpful!
* Then realize that hand-designing your own boxes is usually more trouble than it’s worth and go back to using generators and modifying their output
For everything inkscape watch “Logos by Nick” on YouTube.
Welcome to a new and exciting adventure with your Glowforge. I’m one of the early adopters of a Glowforge and I knew zero about any of it when I got mine. I’m also a Mac user and I highly recommend you take a look at Affinity Designer in the app store. I think it might still be on sale for $25 and there’s no subscription fee like there will be for Illustrator. In the beginning, I tried Inkscape which is free…but, for a Mac user it’s just not as user friendly. AD is really wonderful…and although missing a few things that AI has, its updated frequently and has many online vidoe tutorials to help you out. Wishing you the best of luck and lots of fun.
Just FYI…Inkscape often causes issues when used with MacOS. I think the other two most common design software programs are Silhouette Studio (Business Edition) and Affinity Designer (very similar to AI).
Inkscape 1.0 and newer are much better than the older versions; I occasionally use 1.0 on a Mac with fast startup and no issues.
SSBE is not nearly as popular as AI, Affinity and Inkscape. From what I’ve seen it’s got very few users and its features have seemed a little lacking. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who wasn’t already invested in it, if for no other reason that you won’t get as much help here just due to the low number of users that are proficient with it.
For fun, I did a search for “silhouette studio” on the forum and got 108 results.
I searched for “inkscape” and started scrolling… got to 500 and discourse said “there are more but you need a more narrow search term”.
I really appreciate the encouragement. Thank you! I’ll take a look at these links right away and I will definitely cut myself some slack and more time to learn Inkscape.
Thank you much!
I second this suggestion. Logos by Nick. is a superb resource. just reviewed one of his videos Sunday to be precise.
I do much better with written instruction, video is too slow for me. So I like Inkscape’s documentation or tavmjong bah’s pages.
I’m going to echo @evansd2’s ►1: link above which points to the First Prints tutorial - even if you’ve already got it working, there’s a lot there on terminology and intent that will help as you advance.
Also, once you know more of what you’re looking for, the entire Tips and Tricks section is a treasure hoard of info.
You can generate some simple boxes here. Then bring in to Glowforge UI and add images an text.
Very Cool Thanks!
If you are planning to use the machine in a business, please remember that you will need a solid backup plan for WHEN it breaks, not if. As with any mechanical system things will wear out over time and you may not have any warning when they break. I encourage you to look at how you will handle the failure. As the Glowforge is a hobby level machine with hobby level support you may be waiting weeks or months for a replacement part or repaired machine depending on the failure and the state of the supply chain at that time. You will need to know how you will handle your customers and how you will handle the loss of income during that time. Do it now so you don’t have to do it when you are under the gun.
You might also look-up and start working with Gimp. There are many vector programs, but most of them are weak at raster editing, while Gimp is very powerful at rasters and IMHO much better at turning raster designs to vector.
I would strongly caution against the latest Inkscape release (1.1), but 1.02 is very stable in my experience.
Inkscape is on-par with “the industry standard” Adobe Illustrator in terms of capability, and preferred by many pros. Being free, however, the user ends up being QA. Both have pretty steep learning curves, so many prefer to pay for the simpler apps.
I was in the very same boat as you (as were most). I had used Photoshop and was very proficient in this but had never even tried a vector program. I downloaded Inkscape and slowly but sure dredged along with this fabulous group guiding me. The problem is, at your point, you don’t even know ‘what’ to ask! While I’m certainly not ‘proficient’ in Inkscape, I can accomplish a lot. I am now looking at Affinity Designer since it’s on sale. I have been reviewing the videos and can see the potential there. The nice thing is that I’m understanding it because of Inkscape. So, as it’s been said, start small and ask questions. These guys are amazing and so helpful!! And, if anything pops in your head i.e. leather, etc. just type in it search and you’ll get a plethora of things…settings to start with and adapt to your materials, etc.
I had only heard the word “Inkscape” but looked at it for the first time after purchasing my Glowforge. What I did was to look at every command, one at a time, to learn what it did. Then later, building “real” designs I had a clue where to look to achieve each step needed.
Great strategy. I watched a number of videos that really helped me. Did a google search for what i was wanting to do and added ‘in Inkscape’. Many times it took me to “Logos by Nick” @ca_worth referenced…who does a great job explaining.