Help Me! - Software Questions

Hello, I am new to the glow forge family and i dont even know where to begin. Me and my wife purchased the Glowforge Pro with hopes of growing our business. But i am completely LOST!!..First things first whats is the best program to learn for a beginner for editing software AI or Inkscape?

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Have you ever used either one? If not, Inkscape is cheaper (as in free), Illustrator is used by many pros, it’s extremely powerful. Both work just fine with the Glowforge.


Oh, the best thing to do to start learning is to run through the three “getting started” prints, because they show you where everything is in the interface. When you decide which design program you want to use, there are a TON of tutorials on how to use Inkscape and Illustrator in the Matrix.


Hey Jules, No i haven’t used or have experience with either one. I am a heavy equipment operator that is in danger of being laid off so i figure that i would try and pick this up. Thanks for the reply by the way…

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Welcome. Many of us were completely lost when the big box turned up on our doorstep.

As Jules noted, Inkscape is free and you can get started pretty quickly. After you run through the first cuts, consider what items you thought you would produce to grow your business, and concentrate on learning how to produce those items. There are many free files and examples of things others are doing. Remember, the Glowforge is just a tool, like a drill or saw or paintbrush. The operator must have the imagination, patience and skill to produce the final product or service for sale. We look forward to seeing your projects.

I am moving this post out of “Problems and Support” and into Everything Else as it is not something the Glowforge support team will address.


Hey thanks, i was starting out with the free trail of AI and i am starting to realize that program is far to advanced for me at this time. So with that being said i think i might be downloading inkscape and giving it a shot. Also for the reply.

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What types of things do you want to make?

Any chance you have a Silhouette cutter? The Silhouette software is really easy to work with for beginners, but you need a business license to export in SVG. I think you might be able to download the software without a machine, but you’re really better off learning AI or Inkscape. There’s a learning curve, but it’s worth it.

Also, there are a lot of great files in the free area. You can’t use them for commercial purposes, but it might be helpful to see how they are composed as you start your own designs.

Lastly, everything I learned about using my GF when I first started came from this forum so spending time browsing is a great start.


All of the design apps operate at about the same level of complexity. Inkscape is NOT easier than Illustrator… but Illustrator does a lot more stuff, stuff that you don’t need, and so it is easy to think that Illustrator is harder to use.

When you consider the basic tasks of making simple shapes and text, the amount you have to learn is about the same in any design program.


Actually my wife has both the silhouette and the cricket cutters.

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That will save you some time! You can convert Silhouette files for use in the Glowforge by using this converter to turn them into SVG files

Before you get too excited though, there will likely be some tweaking that needs to be made to the files to make them laser-ready. There is a tutorial here that should fill you in on the basics:

And then you will need to run through the tutorials for learning to use the Glowforge that I linked above.


I recommend inkscape. At first it will be daunting but there are features you will never need if your only using it for laser projects. Youtube has tons of videos showing how to use it. I especially like this site:


If your wife is familiar with Silhouette studio software, just start there and become comfortable with designing and lasering different materials and goals of a business. Next you can work towards a secondary design program be it Illustrator or Inkscape.

I do not use my GF for a business at all but I have used Silhouette studio for years and was very comfortable with that program. I tried Inkscape about a year ago and for some reason it just did not click with me. Six months ago I decided to tackle Illustrator using a number of tutorials online including youtube and I have really been able to improve on what I could do in Studio alone.

Youtube and the internet is your friend. Just take the time to figure out how you learn and dive in. Video tutorials, books, etc. Nothing comes free or easy as they say. And when you get stuck with something when it comes to lasering, the search feature in this forum is great as I’m sure it has been discussed many times before.


Nice share, Jules. I didn’t even know that existed. I upgraded to the biz edition during some big sale. Do you think that tool is a rougher result than the software itself when converting to SVG? I’ve had no trouble with the biz software conversions.

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We actually had more trouble with the Business version of Studio when we were testing it for the Snapmarks. My guess is it’s the same, and I’m glad to hear the Business version is working now. (Probably a setting we had wrong with it, but we had the files flowing through several sets of hands before they got tested, so no way to tell.)

I was using the Biz edition toward the beginning of Snapmarks, so I can’t say that anything is working differently. I haven’t had any issues, but I’m not as much of a power user either.

I haven’t had any trouble with that tool … Although did add the business edition about 6 months ago.

When I use something purchased in the Silhouette Design Store … The software turns lines into dashes … So, in those cases I use the website for conversion.

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Check out your local library. More and more of them are offering maker classes.

The dashed lines are because you aren’t supposed to use those designs anywhere but on a Silhouette. It’s like a watermark.

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For some of us coming more from the engineering side, I didn’t start knowing either particularly well (I knew the basics of AI and had done a few fixes to files in the past (as in take an EPS file someone gave me for clipart, and remove something or change a color). But I knew CAD/CAM, and good CAD packages these days export DXF files which are easy to convert to SVG in either AI or Inkscape (basically open it and save it out in SVG format - Although what I often do in AI is combine different files into a single sheet or add text since CAD is generally terrible for fancy text). So if you think more like an engineer, consider using Fusion360 (free for hobbyists) or OnShape (free for educators/students).