I have no idea what I am doing and am in desperate need of someone to tell me how

This forum is great! Ask specific questions and they will help you out!

I had never used Inkscape before I got my :glowforge:, now I can do quite a bit and have gotten pretty speedy at getting ideas out of my head and into as SVG! Huge thanks to this community!


Welcome to the club! I’ve got to admit that while I’m a Photoshop whiz, both Illustrator and Inkscape leave me scratching my head… It’s a whole different thought process!

Pixel magic is one thing, but vectors and paths seem to be some kind of dark, mysterious magic that I still haven’t quite been able to grasp. I’m more of a visual thinker than analytic, which is probably part of the problem. (I mean WHY does it have to be SO hard to just remove that one little piece of a line?)


It’s not! There are so many ways to do that, it’s kind of hard to say what trouble you ran into…

A Boolean action or manual node manipulation is the trick, it’s quick and easy once you know how.


I’ll echo everyone else, especially @linefeed. I use Photoshop for everything and doing stuff in Inkscape seems clunky…but…i got my GF in September and can do most of what i need to do now. AND, as everyone here has stated, if i get stuck i just ask for help and everyone is great to help. Don’t give up!!! I remember how it was, i didn’t know ‘what’ questions to ask because i didn’t know what i was doing. You’ll get there!!


Sadly I don’t know of anyone here in the forum that can give you one on one lessons from afar. There are, however, people skilled in Inkscape and Illustrator with patience and expertise that will help you. I suggest you complete the first three prints (if you haven’t already) then sketch what your stamp will look like and then try to figure out how to convert the sketch into a file the Glowforge can print. If you share your sketch it will give us an idea of how to get you started.

Many people in the forum were confused and a little defeated as we tried to learn. You can do this, and we will help once you go through a few


1. There are quite a few easy tutorials that will help you learn to design for this machine … reading through these after you have worked through the Glowforge Learn By Doing tutorials will get you well on your way.

2. Tutorials for Learning to Design Your Own Files

These are important for learning to understand the concepts of design and how to make them apply to the Glowforge software, no matter which program you use to design them.

3. Tutorials for Working With Your Own Materials Settings

  • Working With Manual Mode

  • Another source for finding Starter settings for new materials is the Beyond the Manual section of the forum. You can do a search using the name of the Material and the word “Settings” to see if anyone else has shared settings that work.

See if any of those get you started. :slightly_smiling_face:

(Coincidentally, to make a stamp, place a pure white image on top of a dark background. White will not be burned, black will be engraved away. Save that as a raster image and mirror any text around the Y axis before engraving, in order for it to come out correctly on the stamp.)


Your first step, in my opinion, is to take a deep breath and step back. Then come up with two projects that you want to make on the Glowforge that are simple. Think about a name cutout or something like that, something very simple. Then write down those projects. This gives you a place to start. Then determine how to want to make those projects. Once you have the projects written down you have a lot more detail to communicate in your request for help.

It sounds like you may benefit from the Premium subscription for a month or two. This will put designs right in the Glowforge control interface, or dashboard, and allow you to get an idea of where you would like to take your experience with the Glowforge. The Premium tools are very powerful and also allow you to do very basic projects on your own. Once you have a feel of how the unit works, you can then look into finding a program that you want to learn to use.

Right now though you are probably going to be best suited with books, videos, etc. unless you can find someone who knows the software you want to use and is willing to give online classes.


I’d be here offering to help online, but I have NO idea what is going on with the new zoom and other tools like that. Maybe I should start learning them?

I have seen no bad advice above. The secret to eating an elephant is one bite at a time.

@ben1 pegged it in, saying you should back up just a little and do something quickly attainable to build some skills and confidence.

Learning curves look like cliffs when facing first projects, but they truly are not; they are more like curbs that take a little persistence and patience to get past, but once past, things roll much better.


When I bought the Glowforge the only thing I knew about Inkscape is that I had heard the name. As everyone was waiting for their machines, I just installed a played with Inkscape, not even imagining an outcome but just learning what each button or pulldown did. That way when I did have a design I wanted I knew where to go to do it.

Not everyone learns the same way, and I am still learning new stuff all the time, but there is no getting experience without the experience, and everyone of us started without any, even if they had that experience before buying a Glowforge.


Exactly! I started with simple shapes (squares and circles) and used the Path tools to “Union” and “Difference” them.

Later I expanded to “Break Apart” and “Exclusion”.

Then I learned about the “Ctrl+Shift+A” which brings up the “Alignment toolbar” and my world was greatly expanded!


Also, read through the help file one time. Not that you will remember but having saw that the program will do something you will have that indexed in your head that something is possible now all I have to do is figure out how.

To my chagrin I had been using Inkscape for months before I ever realized that it had guides available just like I had been using in Vcarve. (very useful BTW)


Guides are very useful when you start getting lost in the weeds.


I consider guides to be a core competency in inkscape, right up there with node editing.

If you’ve never fooled with custom rotation of guides or converting a shape to guides (shift-g) you might want to look a little deeper.

This tutorial is a bit older but the info is still solid.


Oh I agree, that is why I confessed this, to show that knowing something is in a program is half the battle. I had been dog cussing Inkscape for making things so hard when the tools I needed were right there but not “advertised”.

Oh! thanx for the linky, there are several things I didn’t know about inkscape guides in that.


Dude! I never knew that! This is amazing information!


Perhaps you have some insight into page rotation (Ctl+Middle mouse button + moving the cursor). If you are working on a big touch screen (like MS Surface) it could be very valuable but I have not found all of its other intricacies as yet that could be useful.

Looking I see it us called canvas rotation that you can reset under view. You can also flip the canvas and work from the back for engraving the backside of clear acrylic for example.

I don’t use canvas rotation, myself. In general my understanding is that it’s an artistic tool, used to get a better preferred angle for your hand movements or for perspective, akin to tilting your sketch pad or using a mirror when painting to ensure your proportions look correct. I do all my “drawing” with bezier handles, not with a stylus or more natural mouse hand movements.

So, I know canvas rotation is there but it doesn’t help my process so I’ve never really gotten into it. Mostly when I accidentally do it my brain goes “no no nononono” and I quickly flip it back :slight_smile: I’d be curious to know if anyone else uses it and why.

Discussion about mirror technique here:


WetCanvas, wow! There is something I hadn’t seen in years.

It’s been explained to me that we have visual biases and gradually start making accommodations for small mistakes adding up. The mirror flip quickly points them out.


Like how Zoom mirror looks normal but the flip looks weird - you always looked that way, it doesn’t look weird to other people, but it was more familiar in the way you were used to seeing so your brain just let it be.


I really like Logos by Nick as well. Pick some simple designs and follow along with what he’s going.

And I want to agree with those who point out that vector software is a completely different way of thinking. You have to shift your mindset, especially if you’re used to doing photo or video editing.