Need help with the scan function


I am trying to scan small wooden frames (2x2), but I get either a no artwork error or the shadows are throwing all the sizes off. I really need them to be spot on. Can I get a hint on how to do this the right way?

Thank you!


A picture of what you are trying to scan might help.

The scan function is designed for copying artwork, like a hand-drawn sketch for engraving, or a simple shape for cutting. It expects a high-contrast source, like a sharpie or pencil on plain paper, or the masking on Proofgrade materials.

I am sorry it is so big. In reality it is 2x2.

That’s really not what it’s designed to scan.

Measure it and draw two circles (inside and outside diameter) on paper.

1 Like

That’s kinda crazy though. I tried drawing them out and the results were not good. I have at least 25 different shapes… There has to be a better way to get a tight fit other than drawing it out.

Thanks though!

It’s documented in the support section pretty thoroughly. “Draw with a black marker on a white piece of paper.”

It’s designed (again) for putting simple hand-drawn artwork into prints, like for kids at a craft show or similar.

You can also create basic shapes in the workspace using the (currently free) premium tools.


The problem you will always have is with the shadow - those are too tall.

You could ink them and stamp them onto a sheet of paper if you have extras - that should scan well. Or you can take a photo with your cell phone from directly over the shape to reduce shadows, and use the JPEG file.


Thanks .

For two circles it’s actually better to draw it out, you’ll get perfect circles instead of weird scan artifacts. Do you have digital calipers? They’re cheap and indispensable for designing for laser cutters. You could get perfectly accurate , tight fitting circles quite easily.



I don’t have a problem with drawing the circles, these are the original frames to the items that are going to placed in them. Some of them are square, round or whatever. They are basically just the original mold. So, they need to be formed over and over exactly. They are only 2x2 and 1/8 at the very largest point. It’s 2020, I just don’t understand how that can be too large to scan for a tight fit.

Thanks for the reply

The scan is really not designed for simple geometric objects like that but squishy things like a child’s artwork. Right in the GFUI you can create squares and circles as you wish and even create an outline at a specific distance. So if you have the pieces in the machine and the thickness set correctly, you can use the design tools in the GFUI to eyeball the design by hand better than a scan can accomplish on a good day. Those design tools are not meant to do much, but they could do that much.


Just place it on a piece of White paper and trace around the edge with a fine tip sharpie. Then scan the paper.


Perhaps they’ll listen to you. I already said that twice.


You know Kathy, I thought the scan feature was the trick when I bought this thing, since I had no working knowledge of design software, but I discovered you are really limiting yourself by not using a design program.
What you want to do is a snap with a design program - and spot-on accurate. Inkscape is free and very capable. There are tutorials here and on YouTube for anything you want to accomplish. It seemed difficult to me at first, but the fundamentals come quick, and there is a thrill when you can get the machine to do exactly what you want.
Any investment of time in learning the software will pay you back quickly and many times over.


I’m sorry that you ran into trouble with your project. It looks like you’ve already received some excellent advice from our other community members. Thanks folks!

Did the advice they shared such as measuring your parts and then using design software to create the circles help you get the results you were looking for?

No, it did not. It just reminded me why I stopped reading the forums all together. I asked for help, explained pretty clearly that I had tried using pen and paper and other things before bothering the boards. The response and attitude that you get from the boards is not worth the visit. They just kept saying the same thing over and over (with a very snotty tone that I do not appreciate), even though I told them IN MY VERY FIRST post that I had tried that solution and it did not work. I went there for an alternate solution, not for people to make snide comments. I honestly don’t understand why the Glowforge cannot scan a 2x2 1/8 item, when I have a scanner from 1994 that can. The Glowforge is supposed to help me work smarter and faster.

Either way, thank you for the follow up.


I feel your frustration and regret that you are not finding answers that help you achieve your goal. I agree, the Glowforge is supposed to help you work smarter and faster, but when it comes to scanning, the scanners we are used to for documents and pictures are very different scanning machines than the Glowforge scanning. It would be comparing apples to oranges. A point source scan from a very small aperture image capture device is quite different from scanners with prisms and line by line acquisition and large CCDs.

The lid camera that takes the image has to have a lot of image processing power to map the bed image to a flat image. The scanning capabilities of the Glowforge are demonstrated for capturing flat, 2D drawings of high black and white contrast and not a 3D object with lots of shadows and surfaces.

I am not quite understanding what you are trying to accomplish here. Are you wanting the scan of the frame to be a jig or placeholder for art? When you say formed over and over again, I’m not sure what that means.


I’m sorry for the continued trouble you’ve experienced. As @rbtdanforth outlined, the Trace function on your Glowforge is great for capturing 2D sketches and designs, but due to how the Trace function captures an image of what’s inside of your Glowforge’s bed, this will also include the shadows created by the 3D object you’re attempting to capture. These shadows can be removed utilizing a Design software like Inkscape or Illustrator, but it may not be the tool you need for completing the project you’re attempting to accomplish. I hope this information helps.

For this particular design, are you hoping to create a “replica” of the circle you are Tracing, so that the print cuts out another 3D ring?

1 Like

It’s been a little while since I’ve seen any replies 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