Finally able to start some gift projects

Now that my garage workshop is almost complete, I was actually able to spend a bit more time over the last few days with the GF.

I have spent quite a lot of time with Photoshop over the years for photography, but not much with Illustrator, so I thought I would knock out a few projects for family while learning how to prepare images for lasering. All of my other projects to date have been for cutting parts designed in F360, so this was a bit a new process; and frustrating to boot.

One thing I have learned: I do not like Illustrator.

I have still had some issues with the GF engraving certain vector images, and I haven’t figured out what I am doing wrong. But, overall, it’s been fun.

On top of that, I thought I would give some edge lit acrylic a try. So, I created a Pokemon image for my son. It’s amazing how well his fingerprints already show up in the clear acrylic.

And, one for my father, who spent 10 years in the US Coast Guard and has also volunteered for almost 20 years in the Auxiliary.


Vector designs come with their own inherent gotchas - and then even more when a CNC is involved. If you need help with something going unexpected with a file, plenty of help can be found here!


I do all of my CNC designs in F360 or Vcarve Pro, so while I have had my share of issues, I don’t think I’ve run into as many “gotchas” as I have with Illustrator. I am sure that a lot of that is just due to the inherent capabilities and associated complexities of Illustrator, but I will definitely have to learn more about how to actually design vector files properly. I came close to posting for help over the last few days, but I always learn better by screwing things up a few times, so I kept at it myself.


My biggest problem with AI is that it isn’t Photoshop. Very frustrating at times.

With that said, stick with learning AI. It will be worth it for this machine. I’m starting to get closer to getting simple things done is a reasonable amount of time and there are a few features I really like. It didn’t help that I upgraded and decided to try the new interface - relearning a couple things I thought I knew already. :slight_smile:


I would still be slogging through if I hadn’t asked for help from these people. (I’m still slogging, but at a better pace)


Those are fantastic! (Fingerprints and all.) :grinning:


:rofl: says most of my students.


you have to make the mental shift to understand what you’re trying to accomplish. if you learn to do things in photoshop, you’re learning pixels. it’s just a different mentality to work with vectors.

this isn’t directed at you or anyone else here, but as a graphic designer, i tend to roll my eyes when people tell me “i know photoshop” when someone asks them if they know design. all the programs are tools, and they all have their place. i have to be proficient in photoshop, illustrator, and indesign, as well as other programs. they all have their place and while sometimes you can accomplish the same kinds of things in all three, understanding how they work and what each tool is best for lets you work more efficiently and do better work.

so if you can make the mental shift to designing in illustrator as well as photoshop, you’ll find yourself getting more work done, faster, with less frustration.


I agree with you on all the programs. AI could win me over with an engineers pallet tomorrow. As A CAD guy I want trim/extend, fillet, array, etc. similar to 2D AutoCAD just so I have that basis to continue learning and growing. I know all those tools are there in some form but still different from my training, and cunningly hidden by Adobe :smiley:

As somebody who is delusional about my photography skills I’ve been using Photoshop going back many years. Adobe seems to be addressing some of look but still we have different tools for different jobs. The similar look puts my head in Photoshop mode so basically I’m still in denial and being stubborn :slight_smile:


The fingerprints just verify that your son loved it! Making gifts for others is the best!


We put the Pokemon and the lighted base in his room to use as a nitelight last night. And, he woke me up at 2am crying because “he couldn’t do it anymore.” I asked him, “what can’t you do?” His response: “I can’t concentrate on sleeping because I keep looking at Pikachu.”

I didn’t know whether I should be happy that he likes it, or sad that he couldn’t sleep.


Awwww, poor little guy.


I know how to use Photoshop for my photography, but I suck as a graphic designer; which doesn’t help when I have to build slides for executive presentations :slight_smile:. There is a world of difference between being able to use the technical capabilities of a tool, and using that tool for specific functions. Give me photographs, and I can do some interesting, but not amazing things with Photoshop. Ask me to draw something using it, and you’ll end up with poor stick figures.


i hear you. the point is they’re all tools and they all work differently. you could probably use a hammer to pound in a screw and it would probably hold two pieces of wood together decently. but once you figure out the screwdriver, life gets so much easier.

the talent/skill is a different thing beyond the tools. we each have our own base level of talent, but skills get developed with use and practice. both the design skill and the technical skill for the tool. you just have to keep doing it. my hand drawing skills are mediocre at best, but i keep working on them (tho not as much as i should).

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Both are very nice!

And here’s another that I made at dad’s request last night.


Pikachu - a perfect character for illumination!!

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Quick questions, where do you find the lit bases for these projects?

These are the ones I am using:

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I absolutely agree, I have a little CAD experience and it is just enough to make me hate illustrator because I want to sketch it and them dimension it later. Plus the fact that all I want to do is to add constraints to keep things where I put them in relation to each other!!!