Glowforge Interface - Vector Files Made Easy 🤔


Great list, thanks!


I’m doing everything I can do avoid the monthly cost of AI and so one of the things that has taken me the longest to learn is the cut out function. In Illustrator it looks pretty straightforward and though I found some tutorials that described the function in Inkscape, I thought I’d share here to add to the @Jules original.

So in this simple tutorial I’ll explain how I cut out the shape above in to the shape below using a black circle and a simple top graphic.

If you just draw a circle and lay something on top, the gfui presents the following:


So @Jules describes the process in AI and it is indeed simple there but it took me some time to figure it out on Inkscape.

First, click “edit paths” button image and select each path in the top image - in this case, we’re clicking each letter in the text (already used object to path since gfui doesn’t read text) - image

I then choose to group these together.

Then I create a new layer above and move my grouped image to it. image

Then switch to layer above: image

With the text group selected, shift click the background image:

and choose exclusion.

Your finished product will cut the above layer out of the bottom layer and effectively combine the two in the way that I need it for the GFUI.


I hope this helps those that are attempting to learn all of this from the ground up without prior design software knowledge.

Also, I see this as an extension of @Jules post but let me know if this should be in a separate thread.

The other thing I’ve had to learn is how to make cut line out of anything. This exclusion feature and the offset feature have been the most useful so far.


It’s great to have the Inkscape method outlined as well! Thanks for adding it. :slightly_smiling_face:


Perhaps I’m not seeing something here, but while it has the same number of steps, I don’t understand the need to complicate things by creating a new layer.
See if you find the following method both more logical, and universal.

Start with your filled circle, and then type out your text on it.
Select the text.
Click on ‘Object to Path’ in the Path menu, which converts the text to a ‘group’ of paths.
Click on ‘Ungroup’ in the Object menu, then click on ‘Combine’ in the path menu, which turns them into a single path.
Select both the new path and the filled circle,.
Click on ‘Difference’, in the Path menu, and you have the object you require.



Thanks for this. Any enhancement to this method I stumbled on is a plus. I’ve yet to try it, but I’m looking forward to trying it. I will update my amateur version accordingly.

It took me so long to get to this method that optimization was an afterthought. I don’t have time for classes, so I’ve been finding youtube videos when I can.

Do yo happen to have any tips on generating a cut line around any object? For instance, in Inkscape now, I do a dynamic or linked offset of a duplicate on another layer.


There’s also this technique:


Nice! Thanks, @AhnoldZ. What else are you using regularly in Inkscape?


Funny how we all have different workflows. Assuming he circle and text are the only objects in the doc… this is how I’d do it:

Control a. (Select all)

Object to path. (Converts text and circle to path. If circle is already a path no harm.)

Control a (in case anything isn’t selected after path conversion)

Control shift g. (Ungroup everything)

Shift click on circle. (deselecting it, now the letter objects are still selected) .

Control k. (Combine letters into a single path)

Control a. (Reselects the circle, now both paths are selected)

Path->exclude. (Cuts it out)



By your exclusive use of keyboard short cuts, am I right in guessing you might be a mac user, rather than pc ?
I suppose because I came through the pc/win route, then graduated to ubuntu, but still with a pc, my instinct has always been to using the mouse, then latterly a pen.
Perhaps I have a need to keep hold of the mouse in my dominant left hand, and never got the instinctive typing skill to find the right keys when I need them !



Control gives me away as pc, more or less!

I’m pretty handy in an Linux terminal too, I use Cygwin in my day job.


Instead of doing a ‘path combine’ I do a ‘path union’. That avoids problems due to winding rules and their interpretation if you have overlapping letters.


that’s the opposite of my instinctual guess. especially for people who are long-time PC users (think pre-windows). windows has always been a heavy kbd shortcut system, since its roots are DOS, which had no mouse. mac OS was always more mouse-based.


Just what I’ve learned from tutorials and so it all seems obvious. I’m one of those weird people who like manuals and written tutorials. It’s easier to develop ‘muscle memory’ and work out my understanding by playing with the software while reading. With videos it’s harder to start and stop and ‘rewind’ (to use a cute archaic term I’ve learned from my elders).


Hey that’s a good tip. It’s never bitten me yet, but I don’t use cursive scripts, and so haven’t had to tangle with overlapping letters.


This is the best post. Thank you for all your work and explanations!


I have a lot of trouble with GFUI combining colors. For example, if I have an SVG from Illustrator with vectors that are black, yellow, blue and green, the GFUI will sometimes treat them as four operations, or three, two, or even one. Weirdly, they can all be from the same file with different vectors of the same color visible - for example, a sign with a standard cut and score in two layers and colors, and a third color used for the vector writing or drawing on that particular sign. So I can generate a dozen signs, all with the same color palette, and get wildly different treatment in GFUI. So then I have to tweak colors and re-save the SVG until I can luck into a combination that GFUI handles properly.

Are there specific colors that the GFUI consistently differentiates? Or some other trick?


There’s actually a combination of rules for design that can help you to set up your files so that the GFUI interprets them the way you want them to be interpreted.

First off, the computer can differentiate between different shades of green or blue much better than we can. We might think that we used the same shade of red on two different sections, but the program can see they are actually off by a couple of points. If they aren’t the exact same color, you’ll get a separate operation set up for it. (I do this one all the time.) :roll_eyes:

That’s one thing.

Another is that fill colors are treated separately from stroke colors. If you have a filled vector shape in red, and a separate unfilled vector shape with the same red used as a stroke color, you will get a separate operation set up for it. The program is trying to interpret what you want it to do based on what you give it.

  • Unfilled shapes with a Stroke color are interpreted as Cuts/Scores.
  • Filled shapes with no Stroke color are interpreted as Engraves.
  • Filled Shapes with a Stroke Color are interpreted as Cuts by default, since it’s not clear from the design what is intended.

So you get a separate operation set up for you depending on how you set up your file with fills and strokes. It’s not just about the colors used, although that is one of the main components.

Third thing - anything completely enclosed within a shape is treated as a group for moving purposes on the artboard. This is necessary because it’s easy to accidentally leave bits behind if they are not completely joined. (The CAD programs are notoriously bad for doing this.)

Fourth rule - each raster image embedded in the file is treated separately. That’s necessary because there are no other indicators to the program as to how each is to be treated.

These possibilities in combination make the program extremely powerful. You can do one engrave at one focal height, and another at a different focal height to achieve different effects. You can set up a filled vector, duplicate it in place and give the copy a stroke color with no fill, and set up an edge score for anything that you want to darken a little bit or to clean up the stair-stepping on a low LPI engrave. (I use the heck out of all of the options.) :smile:

More detail on these in the Laser Design Basics tutorial.


I have an Illustrator 12x20 template which includes color swatches. That means those colors will always show up in the palette, since they are part of the file.

I could not find a good way to define a Glowforge palette and always make it available in Illustrator. I had to manually load it each time. Putting the swatches in my blank template was my hack.



So, what, you eyedrop them?


No need to eyedropper, they appear in my default palette. They are the ones with the corner marks.

But you know what, now that I think about it… I DID define these colors as part of a special Glowforge palette. They even have names that remind me of the order of operations. The problem was, I still had to LOAD that palette manually all the time. But the palette does exist.

So, the fact that my Glowforge colors are available for easy picking in the swatches here may be because the palette defines these colors as special, AND the colors are used in the template. I bet that’s it.