Glowforge not importing what Inkscape shows

New glowforge owner here. I took an image and did a color overlay in inkscape to make it all flat black. I have tried several different saves and programs (inkscape and photoshop) but Glowforge keeps importing a multi-color image for the engrave.

These are the images I can see… what the heck…

Are you trying to cut out the “gear” in the photo you posted? :sunglasses:

If so, it should not be an bitmap “image”.

Hey thanks for the reply. I am not sure where that setting should be for bitmap. The circle cut is working fine, my issue is that Inkscape shows a flat black gear image for a consistent engrave, but Glowforge thinks there are still “shadows” on the image. Why would glowforge display a different image than what I uploaded?

I am brand new to glowforge and inkscape, although I have years of experience with photoshop.

Just curious why you would label your pictures on Imgur as “Broken Glowforge”? This is not the machines fault it is your mistake.


Photoshop is a pixel pusher. It has some rudimentary vector tools but that’s Illustrator’s realm. You want to trace that gear bitmap in inkscape (I use illustrator so I’m no help there). That will give you a vector to cut. Bitmaps can only be engraved. Go to youtube and search for inkscape trace bitmap. I’m sure you’ll find plenty of videos to teach you how to do it.

(and I’m with beerfaced… this is entirely an end user problem, not glowforge.)

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If you want to load the SVG file here, someone can take a look at it and tell you what you need to do to fix it. I’m not sure how you created your overlay, but it obviously was not picked up for processing…what you are seeing there is the hidden bitmap underneath the overlay. (That needs to be deleted when you are done with it if you don’t want it to show in the Glowforge interface.)

Add the SVG file to a post here, and can you tell us a little more about how you created the Overlay?

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Yeah, what they all said. If an overlay is like a mask, the Glowforge doesn’t process those. Or clipping paths, either. You only get to choose from rasters (bitmaps) or vectors. Vectors can be cut, scored, or engraved, but rasters can only be engraved.

Just frustration. This machine is not nearly as intuitive as the marketing material suggests… but Ill keep trying and learning, I’m aware its my own fault.

Gear Coaster Acrylic

Here is the SVG I was using. I eventually got the print to work by exporting that SVG as a PNG, saving the PNG as a new thing, then importing and starting a new file in inkscape… there MUST be a better way and Ill do some more reading on the bitmap thing that others have suggested. I appreciate all the help everyone!

Unfortunately yes there is a little bit of a learning curve but that should be expected with any new equipment. Many of us had never operated a laser before buying one. I had never heard of inkscape either until I got mine. There are tons and tons of resources to help you figure it all out. Youtube “Logos By Nick” and you should find answers to nearly every question you can imagine using inkscape or gimp. This forum has been going since the beginning and if you search around you will also find answers to many of your questions or just ask and someone will do their best to help you figure your problem out. If you read enough of these threads you will see there are a number of people who automatically blame the machine for every failure before even taking a moment to consider maybe it’s not the machine but the operator. That part tends to get a little annoying after a while.
Good luck and be patient. It will come to you.

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I didn’t see anything in the file except the circle, but I think that what you did by converting your gear shape into a PNG file was probably the best route to take anyway. By turning it into a PNG, it locks the engrave into what you want it to look like.

So you figured it out on your own. :slightly_smiling_face:

The machine isn’t particularly complicated to use - but they do conveniently never let on in the marketing that designing for a laser cutter has a learning curve. Don’t worry tho, you’ll get it. There’s lots of really helpful information from years of other people figuring it out here in this forum.

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I have been reading about bitmap tracing and apparently it doesn’t work on vector files. I am right back to square one. The original image was a vector. I tried adding a greyscale filter and saving it as a vector again, but glowforge is only seeing the original colored image.

In photoshop I can click a layer, hit color overlay, and it’s done… what am I doing wrong with Inkscape?

Did you select it in inkscape and use Path, Trace Bitmap? You may have to play with it a bit and delete the original before saving it.

As it’s already a vector do NOT use a filter, change the fill color instead.

(Vector software works very differently than raster, forget most of what you know about Photoshop unless you’re prepping a photo for engraving. The GFUI is very simplistic compared to art programs and doesn’t process filters, effects, styles, clipping masks, etc. It only cares about lines, shapes, fill and stroke for vectors. Put another way, the GFUI doesn’t care what your image looks like, only it’s most basic underlying structure.)


Take the time to work through the “your first prints” tutorials on the Support site. They’ll give you a good grounding in the basics and save a lot of this sort of frustration. :slight_smile:


The machine requires almost zero technical ability as long as the user stays with the standard designs, trace capability or new trial features. Pretty much just load a design, material, and press a button. But like every other tool if a user want to do something more advanced it requires more advanced skills that must be learned. I have a hand held calculator on which any child can add, subtract, multiply and divide but there are some functions that I definitely would need to study for hours to understand. Still, better than using an abacus or sliderule.

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I’m sorry for the trouble you’ve run into while setting up your design. It looks like you’ve already received some great information from our other community members. Thanks folks! In addition to what they’ve shared, this past forum post which includes a tutorial on how to trace bitmaps in Inkscape might help:

Please let us know how it goes!

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In my opinion, if something is already a vector, tracing it is a mistake. Exporting it to PNG and loading it back in is a mistake. Will these things work? Probably. Do you sometimes just need to do what you need to do to get the job done? Of course. But it’s also worth learning to use the tools, as it will come in handy later.

I think the best advice here was from @geek2nurse and @ekla. Without the original file, it’s hard to say exactly which buttons to press, but it looks you need to take all those shapes that are different shades of gray and combine them into one (, then you can make it black.

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It’s been a little while since I’ve seen any replies from the original poster on this thread, so I’m going to close it. If you still need help with this please either start a new thread or email