Engraving with leaving a design intact in the middle

I am trying to engrave a shape while leaving a word in the design untouched. I hope you understand what I’m trying to do. Another way of putting it is engrave a circle with the word “Hi” in the design where the Hi doesn’t get engraved at all. Hope this helps. Someday soon I hope to be able to be well qualified enough to help others out.
Thank you,

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If I am following correctly you are asking about negative space. Where your letters are untouched but everything around is engraved?
Also, what software package are you using? That can help for the right person to volunteer.

Yes, negative space is what I’m trying to achieve. I’m using Inkscape. Thanks for your help in advance.

Great, I’m away from the computer right now but if no one has given the perfect answer by the time I am back to it I’ll tackle this.

In the meantime, two clues. First, you have to convert text to paths, second, a boolin function will be needed.

Draw your outside shape & give it a fill so the GF will engrave it.

Create your text and give it a stroke but no fill. Then use the Text to Path command to turn it into a vector shape.

Place it on your first shape. Shift click and select the bottom shape. Both your text and your first shape should be selected now.

Click the Boolean operations to subtract the top from the bottom. The no stroke text object gets removed from the filled bottom object leaving an object that is only filled to the edges of the letters. That’s all the GF will engrave.

To verify you did it right, create a square filled with some color and drag your shape over it. The letters should show the color under it so you know it’s unfilled (which you might have assumed since it was a white space but this makes sure as white can be a fill color). Delete the test square you used to check.

Save and drop it into the GF UI. You should see it correctly represented in the thumbnails.


Even away from my computer, reading along, I can tell that’s the correct answer!


Thank you so much. I found this YouTube video that shows the method in the last quarter of the video. Thank you so much for all your help. Once I realized it is called negative space, it was easier to figure out but I couldn’t have done it with out all your help.
Thanks again,


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9Weag1lxUc Forgot to leave the link

It’s also called an “island” in the engraving. Some posts here for that too.


Yup, nomenclature is half the battle in any new endeavor. It turns out different groups of people call things differently as well. I was looking for how to do fillets in Inkscape the other day and was finding nothing. It turns out that enginering types use this term but art types don’t.


If you haven’t found the tutorials yet, start looking through the Glowforge Tips and Tricks category. Some people don’t even know it’s there as a category because it might not show in the drop down menu.

Here is one of the best starter tutorials on working with vectors that was made by the mighty @Jules:


My hearty thanks to everyone in this thread for their help! It looks like you were able to find a tutorial that helped you out, and a great overview from @jamesdhatch, as well as some resources in case you have more design questions. I’m going to go ahead and close this thread, but if you run into any other trouble please open a new thread or email us at support@glowforge.com. We’re happy to help!