Glowforge Image Software Basics Bootcamp?

Okay, I’ve drawn on a little hardwood plaque and had a Glowforge engrave it…but while I’m waiting for my unit, any suggestions on what app(s) I could begin practicing with for use with the Glowforge? I know it’s compatible with Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape, Adobe Photoshop, GIMP, Autodesk 360, & Sketchup…but I’ve never used ANY of them and don’t know where (and with which one) to begin. Any suggestions on Image Software and Tutorials for the Complete Neophyte?


Start with 2D software, e.g. Inkscape, and move to 3D, Fusion 360 for example. There are many pedagogic resources available for all the programs you mention… google is you friend
Google Inkscape search
Fusion 360

I’d look at a few of the results and decide which best suits your learning style/preference and go from there.
You have now commenced the slippery slide to “Glowforge 201”!
Good luck.


Complete beginner is a variable idea. I tossed together a Youtube walkthrough of a full project done in Inkscape and cut on my laser. I didn’t pre-plan at all so that I would make mistakes and show my own process in using the tools (when new to something, many people assume getting anything wrong at all is failure, when in fact those who are experienced get things wrong all the time)

I tried to aim for low level of knowledge, but at least a passing acquaintance with Inkscape already navigated.

If you have any questions, I would love to do more of the same. And answering a direct question means I won’t feel like I am pandering to the audience, since I am directly addressing an actual need, instead of guessing for myself at what point to start explaining step by step.


As @pomwah showed, a good google search will reveal lots of good info about most any SW package and as @jacobturner pointed out, you may be a complete beginner but you have some type of background. That will effect the path you take.
Also, is a particular way you plan to use the glowforge? That will effect how you want to proceed as well.


Thank you for making the walkthrough.:grinning: Your teaching style is fantastic. I learned so much, plus found that I have so much more to learn. It is refreshing to see the steps that you took to figure out what I would consider a complicated process. I was also happy to see how you input your laser settings. I assume that the Glowforge will have something similar… I think I could watch the laser cut stuff all day. :stuck_out_tongue: would love to see many more videos like yours. Thank you again for taking the time and effort to do this for us new folks.

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@jacobturner. Great video…you have the patience of a saint! Futzing to create all the offsets on each letter…uhm, yeah…I’d never have the patience for that! This isn’t one of the things that Inkscape does elegantly. Silhouette Studio (free) does this with a touch of a button.


Forget the programs mentioned around here all the time for a just a second, are there any programs at all you’re familiar with? The glowforge isn’t compatible with those programs, it’s compatible with files those programs make. But it’s not an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination. Someone probably has a complete list, but off the top of my head I remember glowforge using PNG, SVG, PDF, and JPG files. With a little work around, even word processors can save things a PDF.

So if there’s something you’re comfortable with, even if it isn’t one of the oft-mentioned programs, start there. My job is making design files on the computer, and I don’t use any of the go-to programs either.

The exception to this is a) you’ve never used any program that ‘draws’ ever (so, genuine beginner, and not just unfamiliar with the go-to programs) and b) 3d software. I make 3d designs from 2d programs, but it’s a weird spatial reasoning thing that is sometimes more trial and error than it needs to be. I’ll definitely be learning something 3d in the near future – I think probably Fusion 360. But definitely get comfortable with 2d first.


Very well said. A program that you are familiar with is much better than the greatest thing ever that you can’t navigate.


I learned to use a laser cutter with Adobe Illustrator. However, like @erin said, it is the file type that is important. With my Epilog cutter, you transfer the files from the drawing program to the cutter using a print dialog box. I would recommend that you get an idea of a simple project you want to design, and then try and draw it, using “vector” drawing tools. If you can draw the shapes you want, as continuous lines that are connected, you are well on your way.


The members in the forum are your greatest asset. Garin works for Fusion 360 and is willing to help with any questions we have had. I’ve learned a lot from tutorials on YouTube.


Thanks for all the suggestions! Yeah, none of the current apps are familiar to me—the last one I was familiar with became unusable once I upgraded to Mac OS X…so that’s been a while! At least now I have enough information to dabble a cautious toe into the image software pool… :wink:

Thank you for the tutorial! Don’t look now but that’s my face pushed up against the window of your shop. Let me in (purty please)… I want to play with that laser! :grinning: