Making a file for Glowforge

I can’t think of words right now, so I’m having a hard time doing a search.
When I take my brilliant file and want to send it to the Glowforge, what colors are standard for engrave? What colors are standard for cut? Dan said that there was an emerging standard practice at GFHQ - and we don’t have to follow that protocol… but I figure: why not?

I’ve done my second ever inkscape design, and it is much more involved than the one I made 2 months ago (and promptly forgot what I was doing.)

That’s why my brain hurts. I spent all my thinking on shapes.

For engraving, do I want to group shapes, or do I want to merge them? (inkscape)

I can’t think of anything besides "style guide."
What terms should I be searching under?


I don’t remember anything being published but I’d do a search on dan if you think he did.


I haven’t seen one yet either. I’m just winging it at this point.

I don’t think anything was published, but in the trace video (around the 1:30 mark) @dan says that anything that is black will be engraved by default.

They use pink in the video for cut/score vectors.


Thanks. I went looking at some files in the free laser designs category and decided to cut blue, engrave red, and ignore black (or let the human read black but let the glosforge do nothing with it.)
I’ll shift future projects to engrave black, perhaps.
Thanks for finding that.

Doesn’t the UI let you define which color is for what?

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It does from what we have seen. However, thinking about the catalog, a standard/default would be a good idea.

With the Trotec software the default colors are black and red (engrave and cut, respectively).

I assume black was chosen for engrave because black would probably be the most common color used for single-color logos.

To put it a different way: since black is the de facto color used in printing it’s a good idea to have black be the color for engraving.


In the videos where Dan uses the software he also selects red to cut and black to engrave so I think this will be the standards


I think @tony posted about that here a while ago…

Black and red are the same for Universal lasers too.

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And I was going to vote for fusia and mauve …:disappointed_relieved:


I tend to use anything with a 255 or a 0 in each RGB field. Makes your eyes bleed when I am planning to have a job happen in 9 or more passes… but it works.

I have found that sometimes I am forced to not use black because of “phantom lines” in the file. My best guess is a non-visible layer, since I normally do not check layers.

For example: I made some award plaques in the shape of Idaho. The vector map I downloaded for the outline of the state had a box around the state…

But there was ABSOLUTELY NO BOX IN THE FILE. Yet every time I sent it to the laser… there is the damn box.

That made it so I couldn’t pack the plaques for optimal use of material (state is skinny on top and fat on the bottom, so printing one upright and one flipped lets me conserve material, unless a stupid box turns the states all into squares).

The solution I used in the end was to just change the color of everything I could see to be non black.

So… standards are good. But keep it in your mind that they are not requirements. Sometimes sticking to a standard for no reason makes your life hell.


What software (with the box appearing)?

I’ll be mostly using Illustrator so my plan is to create a custom palette. That palette could be either based off of the Glowforge default palette or if not, hopefully I can set a default palette and save that.

Not sure the software initially used to design the Idaho with the phantom box. I was using it in Inkscape. Never occurred to me to try Illustrator and see if the box went away (or at least became visible so I could delete it)

Was it an SVG or vector format? Or JPEG? Either way, I think a lot of times when either gets exported out they tend to put an invisible bounding box around the object. Or maybe it’s when you place the object into a working document. With a vector, you’ll usually need to break it apart/ungroup down to individual components and the bounding box will disappear. Outlines is a good way to view if it’s there.

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I’ve noticed that PDFs seem to have an invisible rectangular clipping region - often several, actually - that need to be manually deleted when SVG-ifying.


yeah, I see that a fair amount (but not always so I think it’s got to do with what type/version PDF was generated. AI and Corel show them and it’s easy enough to select & delete.

I did once get it to go away by loads of ungrouping and finally being able to release a clip. But oddly the square was only gone for the first time I loaded the file. Next time I loaded it, square was back.

Granted… I had customized a ton of versions for various names to be engraved, so it is entirely possible I corrected one of the named end files instead of the master file. I had a workaround in place, so once I figured out some manner to clear up the issue, I just filed it away for future use.