Create an offset cut line around your text

I got a request to teach a person how to do the offset cut line I created for this project, so I thought I’d put together a quickie tutorial (the request was for Illustrator, I believe there are already tutorials in Glowforge Tips and Tricks for Inkscape).

This was the image I created:

Screen Shot 2020-02-15 at 1.14.20 PM

And the steps I followed were these:

Create your text for engraving in Illustrator. Convert to outlines (Type,Create Outlines), then make a duplicate of this and give it a stroke, no fill:
Screen Shot 2020-02-15 at 1.18.37 PM

In the Stroke window, give it a really wide stroke (20pt in this case). Play around with it until you like the distance of the outer edge. In this case I didn’t like the blocky edge so I also selected Round Corners in the Stroke dialog (middle selection).
Screen Shot 2020-02-15 at 1.19.48 PM Screen Shot 2020-02-15 at 1.20.03 PM

Now go to the Object…Path menu and choose Outline Stroke.

Screen Shot 2020-02-15 at 1.20.42 PM

Looking good but there are a lot of overlaps. With all this selected go to Pathfinder and choose Unite.

Screen Shot 2020-02-15 at 1.21.33 PM

That’s pretty good but we need to eliminate those internal parts (unless you wanted them cut out as well). So from the Object…Compound Path menu choose Release.

Screen Shot 2020-02-15 at 1.22.19 PM

Okay, now we do another Pathfinder…Unite to incorporate all those internal bits.

Screen Shot 2020-02-15 at 1.22.44 PM

Now all you have to do is change the Fill to a Stroke.

Screen Shot 2020-02-15 at 1.23.41 PM

Now drag it over your original text and center it. Maybe change the color so you can specify it as a separate operation if you decide to cut the text at some point.

Screen Shot 2020-02-15 at 1.24.12 PM



Excellent method! I’ve never tried using the stroke size in Illustrator, but it looks quick and easy! :grinning:

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The other method in Illustrator is using offset path. Both work equally well.

Create your type and convert to outlines. Copy the text shape (this will become more obvious later).

Open the offset path dialog (Object | Path | Offset Path)

Check the preview box. With “0” in the offset, it looks like this.

a 0.25" offset looks like this:

0.375" like this:

Click OK and get this:


Select all and use Unite in the pathfinder palette.


Change from black fill to stroke

release compound path and get rid of the extra pieces (if you want, sometimes they’re nice to keep)

paste your text shape back in front (ctrl-F)


Again, both methods work, but there are multiple ways to skin a cat in Illustrator.


also, it can be a fairly complex shape when you’re done. you may want to take a little time to clean up nodes if there’s good separation from the text.


A little noodling with simplify path took me from 107 nodes to 39.


I removed a few more paths along the bottom and above the Y to simplify more and am down to 24 and it looks much cleaner.




thank you!

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Thank you all so much @cynd11. I’ve been trying to figure this out for a while. Great, clear instructions! Bookmarking this page.


Glowforge actually has an outline setting within the interface that does this now :smiling_face:

Yes. In fact I posted about it here:

Very good instructions. Thanks!