Trace Function

There does not seem to be many comments about the power of the trace feature of the Glowforge. Maybe that is because it is so simple to use.
I spent hours with Inkscape and AI tutorials trying to create a script style sign that did not cut away each letter. There are some great tutorials on that topic and I think I am close to mastering the process.
However, I decided to create a simple sign in MS Word, print it out on my laser printer and trace with the Glowforge. Because I was going to paint the sign I used a piece of unmasked 1/8" Baltic Birch plywood and the results were very nice, especially considering the ease of the process.




Turned out beautiful! :grinning:

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Yes, I agree—the trace function seems to be under utilized and under appreciated. I’ve gotten some amazing results with it. Your signs came out fantastic!

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My first instinct would have been to turn the MS Word into a bitmap, open it in Inkscape and trace it. This appears to be a faster and simpler solution.


If it can be typed in Word, it can be typed in Inkscape.

@userk999, while your result looks really great, I think it’s many more steps than what’s needed and you’ll save yourself a bit of time just using Inkscape.
I’m not an Inkscaper, but many here are and can probably help you out with whatever issue you ran into with it. I ran into an issue with a script font in Illustrator that I wonder if you hit in Inkscape… That was that where letters overlapped, it caused the Glowforge to exclude the overlapped parts. I had to join/merge everything together into 1 path and that fixed that issue quickly.

If you had some other issue, by all means ask and I’m sure somebody will quickly be able to help you with it! :slight_smile:


There are a load of terrible instructional videos out there but believe it or not there are easy tools in Ai. to create the outlines your looking for. I hope this video can help you understand some basics.

The trace function gives an awsome solution for a quick and simple job but it has its limitation and seems prone to a bit of warping! Don’t give up on your AI or inkscape skills they are valuable and worth the research and time they take to master :wink:


Thanks, I will check that one out.


I just mentioned this elsewhere, but I wouldn’t be so sure about saving time. Inkscape is more powerful than many of us need and, as a result, it sometimes takes longer to do things than it seems like it should (and, indeed, than it takes in other software packages). Just changing a font in Inkscape is unwieldy. Given the length of time we’ve been able to change fonts in a piece of software, I simply don’t understand why Inkscape makes it such a PITA. I haven’t used Illustrator in ages, but I’d like to think Adobe would have nailed that part.

All that said, yes, I’m sure that’s the same issue. I think it’s just the Merge command, but I haven’t tried it yet.

Also, according to the FAQ, the GF can read PDF files. So, you can save your MS Word file as a PDF and upload that to the GFUI. I haven’t tried this. But it seems plausible.

There seems to be a bug in font selection but once I figured it out was able to change fonts from one to the other as fast as I could hit the down arrow. Same as any other S/W.

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Well, of course that’s great for you, but it doesn’t make it true for everyone. :slight_smile: I can’t imagine how it will ever be faster for me as it requires at least one more step (apply) than any other software I use. It also doesn’t have an immediate preview as several others have, so I am always testing font after font. And that’s not taking into account that it’s frustrating just trying to select the font in the first place. Different tools and processes work better for different people.

As with many opensource programs Inkscape is not as beginner friendly, but very (sometimes much more) efficient for the knowledgeable user Gimp. and Blender are the same, and in programs like Autocad I am finding myself annoyed at all the extra steps/clicks even with much of that taken out with LISP programming.

I have no trouble with fonts for example in Inkscape.

I’m not having trouble, per se. The type interface is just not as streamlined as other software packages I use. But I have a ridiculous number of fonts for design work and I need to play around with them to see which work best. Anyway, to each their own. I was simply suggesting that what is easier for you may not actually be easier for someone else. I stand by that.

As for your comment about LISP, I nearly snorted my tea. At the risk of aging myself, I was the first person in my high school to complete 4 years of computer science classes (I may actually be the only one ever since I’m not sure they’ve really upped their game there, but whatever). For my final year, they had to make an independent study for me because they had run out of course ideas. I was interested in AI, so thought LISP would be a good tool to have in my repertoire. My advisor, apparently knowing nothing of LISP (or perhaps having a wicked sense of humor), assigned me a very basic programming challenge: write a program for solving the Pythagorean Theorem. I’m not sure if it has changed over the years, but there were no real number functions available in LISP… and I was using an editor that maxed out on 7 lines of code. I spent an entire semester writing functions that exist in basically any other programming language (i.e. square root), but breaking them down into their simplest parts to fit in 7 lines of code. It was infuriating and incredibly rewarding, but I have never touched LISP again.

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Not at all arguing that a free S/W package is as efficient or even as flexible as an expensive S/W package. Just that changing fonts is easier for most people than your one comment seemed to suggest to me.

Haven’t found anything I needed to do that Inkscape didn’t allow. I’m amazed at what it does for the price. Have used AI extensively in the past but don’t have a personal license. Can’t afford to pluck down the money to save myself a few minutes. If I had more disposable cash and was the type of user that worried about production level efficiency maybe I wouldn’t have bought a GF.

My experience was a bit different…
When I was buying my Commodore 64 they had a program add on like a USB device but several times bigger than most phones that had the Logo program on it. This was advertised to teach programming to pre literate children. That sounded like about my speed so I got it and learned a lot to the point that the company I was working for made liferafts for airplanes and wanted a new design.

There were many required needs as so many square feet per person and so much bouancy per person with one ring of tubes or two and six or eight sides and of course the tube had to lay out so it would have the correct angle with the there tubes and be the least amount of material more about weight and packing size the less material used.

Basically just complex arithmetic but I was able to do that with Logo. Including outputting the sine curve in 1/8" increments off a straight line.

Much later I learned that AutoCAD had adopted Lisp as their scripting language and found it very easy to learn and could not figure why so many folk had problems. Much later still I learned that Logo was created as a variant of Lisp. But for many years it gave me a big leg up on others as I could many times do in one command what that might spend hours at.

Ah, yes. I also did quite a bit with Logo, but that was well before the LISP saga. And I remember the Commodore 64 - we had one in school.

As for Inkscape, I am also not comparing a free program to an expensive one, and I’m not saying that changing a font is an insurmountable hurdle. I said that it’s unwieldy, which it is compared to basically any other software package I’ve used (free and otherwise). I haven’t used every design program out there, but I have used a significant number over the years. It irks me enough that it stands out as an issue. There’s no way to know what “most people” would think about that, so we just need to accept that we have different experiences. I do, on the other hand, agree that Inkscape is an amazing free resource. It would even be an amazing paid resource. Still, the OP needs to decide for himself what is a better use of his time. When I’m in a time crunch, I am reverting to software I’m more comfortable with, and when I have the time, I’m continuing to work with Inkcape (which I have actually used for years, but never quite felt at ease with) and now Gravit in an attempt to gain mastery. Lifelong learning and all that.

You make me feel so old. they had a computer building when I was in college , but the whole building was the computer. And apparently thee was no operating system per se. you had basically to load an “operating system” specific to your program as the first part of every program, and sign up for very rare use of system time to run it.

When I was in high school Webster still listed “computer” as a job rather than a thing.

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Hah. I was feeling old just talking about the Commodore 64 to begin with.

Exactly why I had such an advantage in Autocad, the first thing I did before even getting a job was call several folks teaching and ask what book they were teaching from, and when 70% said they were using “Mastering Autocad” I went out and bought that book and read it cover to cover.I then went to a computer store and played on their computer for about 5 hours, went back home and reread what I had not understood and back for another 5 hours at the computer store.

As a result on my first day at work, I knew the program better than the guy sitting next to me who had been at it for three years but never picked up a book on it, and it was amazing the things that were obvious to me but a mystery to him.

Even then most folks did not have a computer in their home and only some universities had Darpanet. I ran into a problem as a cable was discovered to be running under a building we were engineering, It was basically a round shape laid out in segments of so many feet and inches at so many degrees minutes and seconds so any error compounded badly and even without knowing the nomenclature at that point I just typed it in, and Autocad said it was 5" off the center of a column. Well they spent a week with slide rules trying to confirm it and ended up with a cloud of points so eventually took the Autocad number.


There’s a website someone here pointed me to that shows a sample of text in every font installed on your system. You type what you want in an entry box and it displays that text on a page with all your fints so you just have to look at that one screen.

I keep it open on my desktop and use it if I’m looking for interesting don’t effects. I’m not home this week so I can’t tell you what the site is but someone might know it or it’s likely on one of the results of a search for fonts here.