Procrastination and foolish optimism

I’m a Day-18-Pro and so I’m hopeful that I’ll have delivery some time in November. As a world class procrastinator and generally a busy person anyway (just moved!), I’ve had plans for learning the design software I’ll need (Fusion 360, Sketchup, Illustrator) but have only made a bit of progress. I’m one of those foolishly optimistic folks that just figure I’ll learn it as I need it.

SO, I found that I need to draw up a site plan for my new property; getting some minor work done and need permits. Could sit down and just draw it up by hand but thought “hey! I’ll be using these design tools pretty soon, why not just knock it out in one of them?”.

Moments like these, where people like me decide to stumble back into reality, are so educational.

I’ll spare everyone the easily imagined details, but several hours later I emerged with a valuable result. No, it was not the site plan I need. I’ll likely sit down tonight and draw it up by hand. Rather, it was the cold realization that I have a lot of systematic study to do. So many rabbit holes! So many wandering paths! It was horrible. I am So not ready for the Forge.

Luckily, the house move process has transitioned to a manageable state. I don’t know where all my shoes are, but I have my computer and about 40% of my tools where I need them, so I’ll be dedicating time for learning the design tools. If I stick to it I should be in acceptable shape by the time the Forge arrives.

And, if anyone wants to suggest a wham-bam-basic 2D drawing tool (on a Mac!) that would make this site plan drafting any easier (I probably need to learn one anyway, right?) I’m all ears.


Chuckle! Been there, done that. One small suggestion, learn to use the 2D designing software (Illustrator) fairly thoroughly before tackling the 3D stuff.

The laser works in 2 dimensions…3D designs have to be converted into 2D anyway before cutting, and lately all of my 3D designs have been created in 2D (Illustrator) software. It’s probably not the best way to go for really complex interlocking shapes, but it works great for simple boxes and is a heck of a lot better for curved shapes.

Good luck! :grinning:


I’ll second Jules there – definitely start 2D, it’s all you need for laser (and all I’m even usually using when CNC milling, for that matter). I’m an Inkscape guy myself (works really well on most Macs and, most importantly, it’s free), but regardless of whether you prefer Inkscape, Illustrator, or even shudder Corel Draw, 2D is a much more straightforward way to get your projects into laserable shape than any 3D program. There was a time when I was using a laser that had Rhino 3D for its passthrough software, but even then, when I’d import my files from Inkscape, before I did anything else I would turn off Rhino’s 3D view and switch to 2D top-down mode for sanity’s sake.

Inkscape’s not the most basic of basics (to start, you should know that, In Inkscape, a hairline vector is defined as a 0.001"-thick vector, and there are of course some key commands that are nice to know, particularly path operations), but it’s the kind of program you can start mucking about in and start to find your way fairly quickly. Plus, YouTube tutorials are your friend. Good luck with it, and I’m sure whatever program you choose, when you hit a wall with it one of us on here will know a way around. Happy forging!


Hey, some of us resemble that remark! :smile:

Design software is like pizza - it’s the one you grew up with that you love the best.


Lol, very, very true – and I do have to hand it to them, our current Trotec laser at the Idea Foundry uses Corel Draw v.18 for the passthrough, and it’s actually not nearly as clunky as it was in the XP days. Still crashes occasionally, and sometimes reads SVGs reeeeeally weirdly (I’ve taken to importing in .pdf instead), but if I were getting used as often as that machine is, I’d probably glitch out a bit, too.


I’ll have to be the lone dissenter on where to start. Go with how your brain works. For me, I’ve gotten fairly good with Fusion 360 but still really terrible with Inkscape and Corel. As you see above this is not the norm, I rarely am the norm but if your head wraps around mechanical drawing well, consider just doing Fusion first.


Yep, you’re just weird. (Thank goodness.) :wink:


X8 is way better :slight_smile:

Although I have random issues when creating SVGs that are rare enough that they surprise me every time they happen.

I’m going to have to check that out, thanks @jamesdhatch – you can see how good I am at keeping up to date, the newest version I’ve laid hands on is v.19.

Then again, I seem to always be behind software-wise – I’ll tell you a secret…

I’m still running Mac OS 10.6. :open_mouth:


Hey, I tend to wait for multiple releases before moving. Heck my cell phones go 4 or more years between refreshes and my laptops have to crash & burn before I replace them :slight_smile:


I’m in that boat too. 10 years with solidworks and mastercam warped my fragile mind. Fusion 360 has been a welcome reprieve. I am getting better at using Inkscape every time I use it for a new project, largely thanks to the tutorials on this forum.


I was going to say exactly this in response to the “learn 2D first” posts, fortunately I scrolled down to see if anyone else already had. I’m the same way. Drawing programs just don’t click with me. Probably because I can’t draw anything to save my life. But I really enjoy making things in Fusion 360, and I can relate much better to its modeling tools. I still swear at it for a good 90% of the time I have it open, but that’s mostly me and mostly for it not reading my mind.

An example from just the other day: I wanted a rectangle of acrylic with four holes in it of a specific size. I wanted exactly one inch between the center of each hole, and I wanted the group of four to be centered horizontally and vertically within the rectangle. This is pretty trivial to draw in Illustrator, I suppose, but I’d spend the whole time feeling annoyed that I’m executing a series of drawing and moving steps, whereas in CAD I can say “here are my constraints, solve them”. And when the spacing turns out to be slightly wrong, I can change a parameter and it’s all fixed.

By contrast, when I spend a lot of time swearing at Illustrator, it’s because I can find a way to do what I want, and more often than not I search online for an answer, find lots of other people asking the same question since 2011, and discover that the current best answer is “it doesn’t do that yet, so you’ll just have to do something else instead”.


Being an old fossil, I’m still using, and happy with Corel 8 (that’s not X8, by the way), as mentioned elswhere. As my favourite OS is Ubuntu, I need dual booting with XP .
So any time anyone is in the Corinth, MS area, and wants to visit the museum, please let me know.

< :upside_down_face: >


Dual boot? Why not just run XP in a VM? I’m very happy using libvirt and virt-manager to manage KVM for the Windows virtual machine that I’m forced to use occasionally. (I’ve also used VMware on macOS but only because I get it for free through my employer; on Linux there are enough good free solutions that I wouldn’t advise paying VMware prices.)

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But setting up a VM requires, unless I’m very much mistaken, an XP disc, and my laptop came with it pre installed, x number of years ago(no back up disc), so I continue to nurture my laptop, plus a desktop in the same condition.
I tried my Corel discs on a second laptop with Win10 on it, but that doesn’t support my equally elderly digital pad, so I just muddle through.
Seems to work so far !

I am right there with you! I’ve had good intentions to learn the designing software programs for the longest time and even occasionally peek into The Matrix. But woefully unprepared for the upcoming arrival of the GF.


A number of folks are also happy with Affinity Designer on the Mac, as a less pricey alternative to Illustrator that still has a lot (although not all) of the features and is maybe not so intimidating as Inkscape or Illustrator.


I don’t think fusion is a good choice for a site plan. Many engineers use civil3d which is a set of tools on top of AutoCAD. SketchUp has made some progress with their presentation tools, but I’d say AutoCAD is a good bet if you can get ahold of it. It can be expensive.

Edited to add: you likely don’t need the civil 3d tools, as your permit probably lacks the complexity. If you do, you’re possibly in the arena of needing an engineer, and that’s a whole nuther can of worms.


Oh My.

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