Creating separate objects in SVG

Hello everyone. I’m working on creating some fantasy maps on various materials. I’m new to working with SVG’s and currently learning Inkscape.

First, here is an example snippet from one of my maps for reference.

I would like to be able to separate the darker (water) shaded section so that I can adjust the settings for that portion of the image separately. Currently I’ve found ideal settings for the rest of the map to engrave nicely but the dense filled in portion ends up being too much. I’ve used files prepared by others where the Glowforge app reads different sections as separate objects so that you can adjust the settings for different parts . Here is a perfect example of what I’m looking for.

I know I can engrave as a bitmap but I’m using this project to try different things to learn how to set up future projects. I’ve done a bit of searching on this topic but I’m honestly not sure enough how to word my searches to get what I’m looking for so I’m hoping someone can point me in the right direction.

Thanks for any info!


Welcome to the forum.
The Glowforge recognizes different colors as Items that can be handled individually in the interface. If you can organize your files so that the elements are different colors, you can assign different engrave settings to them. Once you have your file ungrouped with different parts different colors, you can treat each part separately.

As for testing engraving/cutting settings, there are templates for that in the Free File section of the forum. Here is one. Small and fast engraving test template


Is your map a vector or a bitmap at this point?

If it’s a vector and all the shapes are paths, you should look into the “break apart” command to separate all the elements. They you can combine the parts into compound paths as appropriate.

That being said… in this case I’d absolutely use a bitmap and the “vary power” or “3d engrave” setting. That way it’ll only have to do one pass and the engrave will be far faster than if you do two separate vector steps.


The Glowforge recognizes different colors as Items that can be handled individually in the interface. If you can organize your files so that the elements are different colors, you can assign different engrave settings to them. Once you have your file ungrouped with different parts different colors, you can treat each part separately.

Oh great, that makes sense. Does this workflow sound potentially doable:

File created in PNG
Uploaded into Inkscape
Trace bitmap
Fill sections with multiple colors
Import into GFUI

Is your map a vector or a bitmap at this point?

It’s a bitmap and I’ve been loading it into Inkscape and tracing the bitmap to get cleaner engraves than I was getting with bitmap engraving. Though if that’s the proper workflow I can continue trying to clean up my file and settings.


Your tracing workflow will allow you to accomplish your objective - being able to set different parameters for different parts of the picture.

As a bitmap your example will all engrave the same. As vectors of different colors or different fills, you can vary the parameters. For instance I’d do a higher power or slower speed engrave for the water so it cuts in deeper. Then maybe two different settings for the two different types of roads. The forest maybe yet another setting as would the buildings.

And for the lettering/titling I would make them text islands so they stand up above the surrounding water in relief.

That’s a far more interesting looking map than a simple engrave. With your b&w art, a bitmap engrave using variable power won’t get you any difference in the engraved texture/depths.


Ok that’s all very helpful.

For this particular project, would your recommendation change knowing that my original map actually comes out in color and I have the ability to change the shades/colors in my mapmaking software. I originally was using B&W because Inkscape was able to pick up the trace better.

I am partially interested in going in this route so that I can learn how to set up my files to do so for future projects. But also I can always practice on different files if doing it differently for this project will make this turn out better.

Thanks for answering so many questions! I’m excited to take the ideas and play around with the settings, it’s very helpful knowing at least my major options to try.

1 Like

What’s the resolution of your maps as they come out of the software?

As is it uploaded it’s 1920 px wide. To get a nice sharp “in hand” engrave I’d try to stay at 300 dpi or better so 1920/300 = 6” wide. If this is intended as a wall hanging you can get away with 200 dpi, or about 9.5” wide.

If it were me and I wanted it larger I’d try to get the initial resolution higher, if you want the map 15” wide, I’d try to get the source image at 4500 px wide. Make sense?

Then I’d proceed with converting it to greyscale, adjusting curves to get good contrast, and then use 3d engrave/vary power. Using that technique worked really well for me. Hang on, I probably posted the project i’m thinking of.

Ok apparently I never posted this one. Fixing that.

Edit edit:
Here you go -


That’s gorgeous, great work! Currently this map is 4000 x 2100 pixels when I export it from Wonderdraft. I could probably get it a bit bigger with a bit of tweaking if needed.

This is actually intended as a handout for use as a map for a tabletop roleplaying game. I’m playing with different materials including a sturdy canvas and kraft-tex faux leather which is coming in the mail today. Currently trying canvas and I’m getting a great engrave from everything except the water which ends up being too much and it makes those spots very fragile. I also hope/intend to weather/age it and maybe apply some mod podge to give it some extra sturdiness (testing all of these ideas on scraps of failed engraving tests).

Also thanks for including the banana for scale!

1 Like

Leather generally doesn’t do very well under a vary power setting. It either engraves really dark or not at all… I would definitely try it, to see how it looks, but you may want to go with dots to simulate your grayscale.

As you know, testing is key.


In that case I agree with @evansd2 about converting to grayscale and doing a bitmap engrave. You’ll want to adjust your colors so the deepest parts (deeper engrave) are darkest in your picture otherwise you can sometimes get off engraving depths when an artistic color is inappropriately dark or light for the picture.

Ok, that all makes sense. I’ll play around and see what I can make work!

Also, my Kraft-tex vegan faux leather came in and I’m doing my first tests on it right now. It’s an interesting material, feels very sturdy and pliable. They say you can machine wash it to add a different texture and make it more like leather so I’m trying that. I’m interested to see how it turns out because it definitely has a very sturdy map feel. Might be perfect!

1 Like

Be careful here. Lots of fake leather is PVC based, and cutting PVC can kill your laser in very little time. I’d make an effort to find out exactly what it’s made of.

Edit: interesting, it appears to be a paper base. Anyone know where there’s an MSDS?

Check out #4 for more information:

1 Like

Instead of a solid sea would you consider a fun wave pattern? Then you wouldn’t have to futz with different settings. For example


I actually got the recommendation from a few threads in this thread. It’s a very interesting paper material.

@ekla I was actually just talking to my wife about potentially doing something like that if I can t figure out the settings. I do like the ones you posted!


Oh you mentioned canvas, you might like this:

And check out @shogun’s canvas work too, he pushed on color limits and got cool results:


Where you are dealing with raster files I find Gimp to be the app of choice for me. With it you can isolate the part you want to work on (like the water area) and lighten it or even add a texture. In isolating (called a mask) you can save it as a path, and then export it as an svg!

The vectors thus created are much cleaner generally than if made in Inkscape to the point I do not bother going to Inkscape for that anymore. Also as there is much more control you can create vectors that Inkscape would not attempt.

After working the image I import that and any paths into Inkscape where creating and manipulating vectors is much more powerful.

1 Like

Great question. Often people ask something I did not think of yet, so replies are educational for all.

1 Like

These are all great! I’ll dig through!

@rbtdanforth Love GIMP!, I’ve been using it for years so I’m fairly familiar. Though I didn’t realize it could create vectors? I’ll do some searching. I mostly use it for basic image manipulation and learn how to use new features as I need them.

Any mask can be saved as a path, and any and all paths can be exported as an SVG but you have to type the whole name in including the .svg part