Creating cut and engrave files from scratch...HELP

Hi all, does anyone have a straight forward tutorial on how to create your own cut and engrave DXF files?

What program are you using? The Glowforge prefers SVG or PDF files. Many programs that can export DXF can also export the others.

It doesn’t really have to be DXF, I just want to design images that cut and engrave instead of separate files that I have to try and line up

Inkscape is the free powerful alternative most folk go to unless they are experienced in the others. No matter what you will need a raster program as well and for that I use Gimp which is also free, but you can put the rasters from Gimp into Inkscape for detailed mixing

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If you haven’t already, go look at this thread, it has tutorials and discusses several different software programs you can use. Scroll down for the user generated content/TOC


I’m experienced with Gimp and have just got Inkscape, I can design the images and convert them to svg, but is there a way to have the cut lines and engrave lines in the one file

raster images can only be engraved , but vector parts from inkscape can be engraved ot made to be cut lines

That was me three years ago having done Inkscape for the first time.

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OK so that’s already a help, I need to learn about raster and vector (on separate layers I’m guessing), what file type would I save that as though?

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Whichever program you are using - just make sure that your vector objects are different colors, you’ll be able to upload all the artwork together AND set different cut/score/engrave operations for each color.
As others have mentioned raster objects engrave only. :slightly_smiling_face:

Layers and groups don’t matter to the GFUI.
SVG and PDF files seem to upload most reliably. If you’re using Adobe Illustrator you can copy/paste directly to the GF dashboard instead.


Inkscape has many very powerful techniques for working with vectors including making vectors by tracing the raster images. they work a lot like the Paths in Gimp.

There are many layer and other organizing mechanisms in Gimp and Inkscape, but the rasters will each be its own layer in the GFUI it is only by color that makes a difference in vectors layers.

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Sweet, and I just save that as an svg yeah


Unfortunately I have not found a way for Gimp Paths to translate to Inkscape vectors, but you can bring in Inkscape vectors and translate them into Paths,

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@rbtdanforth @ekla thank you both, you’ve been awesome :+1:


When precision counts, I often create in a cad package and save as dxf then import into inkscape which allows me to inpurt the dxf and then save as a svg. This process also allows be to add art which the cad program would otherwise reject. cannot beat inkscapes price.


I use Inkscape .92 and tried the other day to import several .dxf files. None would work. I ended up using the free file converter convertio to make them into .svg. That worked well for me. I have no idea why I couldn’t import .dxf as they were the version Inkscape is able to accept.

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If you don’t already, you need to get the difference between raster and vector firmly in your head, here is a little tutorial on it and other basics: Laser Design Basics 🤔
Now as far as layers, the :glowforge: doesn’t care, it knows the difference even when we don’t! You can separate vectors out by color, each color will present as a job on the left of the interface where you can choose cut, score, or engrave.


@markevans36301 that is perfect, thank you loads :+1: :+1:


I suspect one or more of the settings in the import dialogue in inkscape or the export in your cad may not agree. It took me a few attempts to get that working with inky .93. I will share my settings when i am at my pc tomorrow.

I thought so too at first, however, the .dxf I was importing claims to be autocad dxf R13 and that is what my inkscape is supposed to be able to use. Anyway, the conversion program is very quick and does work so I’m not really upset about it.