I’m new….help!

I’ve received a gf Aura for Christmas. I’m struggling learning g to use it with designed outside the gf membership. Anyone have any suggestions?

Welcome to the forum.

Designing is a challenge. Are you buying files or trying to design your own? Inkscape is free and some people think Silhouette Business Edition is fairly easy. There is another program, https://cuttle.xyz/ which has some templates and tutorials that may be useful.

What kinds of things are you trying to make?


I’m trying to make my own although I don’t mind buying, within reason.
I really don’t have anything particular in mind, just playing around but not wanting to spend $300 for a yearly subscription. I can’t even do text without the subscription.

Download a copy of Inkscape - it’s free, and there are SO many tutorials on using it already in the Tips and Tricks section of the forum.

Once you start working, if you have a specific question we’ll be happy to help.

In the meantime, I’d suggest heading over to the Free Laser Designs category. Start right clicking and downloading designs to try out. Since the Aura is new the designs were mostly created for the Performance series, but as long as they’re the right size (or made up of small parts) you should be able to make them with your Aura (with the caveat that it won’t cut thick materials, or clear/blue acrylics).

Welcome, you’re gonna have so much fun!


I’m new to the GF as well and have found that if I don’t buy the subscription, the machine is pretty much useless. I can import the files they say, but will only download as a bitmap so if you don’t have the subscription it will only engrave…it does nothing else…Maybe I am doing something wrong, but I think that’s kind of unfair to pay that kind of money for the machine and then have to pay 300 bucks a year to use it…Had I known I wouldn’t have bought it.

Hi, welcome.

A) being able to engrave or cut or anything anything bitmap related has nothing to do with the subscription status

B) You absolutely do not need the subscription to use your Glowforge

Have you done the First Three Prints tutorials? They are meant to explain a lot of the functionality of your machine to you. You can get files from anywhere and edit or create them in design software of your choice, but you will have to educate yourself on the difference between bitmaps and vectors and how different files types work. There is a lot of information here on this for as well as out on the rest of the internet.


I feel the exact same way. I also didn’t know I had to buy the $300 vent thing!

I do t believe I’ve done the first 3 prints but I’ll definitely check it out. I have purchased a couple of designs that I cut out but am struggling with being able to cut out a name without a subscription

Welcome to the forum.

You are very mistaken about the subscription and the machine being useless without it. The subscription was offered years after the machine had been in use and is not at all necessary. If you work through the Glowforge tutorials, you will get an idea of how the interface works. If you need help with a project, there are people here that will help you.


You absolutely can do text without the subscription. You can do cut/score/engrave projects without the subscription, but you are going to have to learn how the interface interprets vectors and rasters (lines and pictures). The Glowforge will do exactly what you tell it to do, but you need to know how to communicate with it. Work through the tutorials. Read the forum regarding text, images, etc. Someone gave you the Aura so that you could create and have fun. With a little effort, you will soon be making things and having fun.


You don’t. The vast majority of Glowforge owners blow their fumes out a window for free.


Thank you all so much for the feedback, it was a big help, Now to have the time it is going to take to find all of the tutorials I will need, it’s looking like months of reading, and where do I even begin in all of these forums? I have found that the GF program itself has very little help… Does anyone have some links that will get me started? I find the program is a little on the difficult/simple side, does that make sense? :smiley: I’ve used way more advanced programs, that can do lots but yet on a simple level. example: (Silhouette, Windows Publisher, Gimp) I did download Inkscape, its kind of overwhelming…looks like you need a 3rd-year college education to use it…I can learn it, but there again we are talking about months of tutorials…I guess I am a little on the simple side of life :slight_smile: :slight_smile: Any help will do, Thanks

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Glowforge has tutorials: https://support.glowforge.com/hc/en-us/sections/20461980538779-Using-the-Design-Workspace

Also, click on the Tips and Tricks section here in the forum.

Here is a good place to start: https://support.glowforge.com/hc/en-us/categories/11792468406939

Finally, a long time Glowforge owner has great videos on his webpage. Check out Big Blue Laser Design (https://bigbluelaserdesigns.com/)


Thank You!

Thank you!!!

Gimp can turn any masking into a path and export any or all paths as vectors in an SVG. ( the raster image does not save with it but can be added back in Inkscape)
I did not know anything about Inkscape but the name when I started with Glowforge. I sat down and tried every command I could find to see how it worked without focusing on a specific result. That worked for me better than starting with a desired result and trying to figure out what commands were needed.