Saturday, December 28, 2019

From Google Drawing to Glowforge laser cutter Part 2

Earlier this week,  I shared my workflow for using  Google Draw to design ornaments, badges, or suncatchers to cut on our GlowForge Laser Cutter. 

You can read more about my search to find workflows that increase access to maker tools for students who use Chromebooks in last week's post where I talk about WHY Glowforge and WHY Google Drawing.

My first tutorial used primitive shapes from Google Drawings and Stencil fonts to keep things as simple as possible. But what if you want to use a font that is not a Stencil font or expand your choice of images?   Here is a cardboard prototype of an ornament for my grand-daughter, Rosie, along with a poplar wood version.

Today's tutorial is the second in the following series, where I'd like to share my next steps in learning how to design in tools that work on Chromebooks for  the GlowForge.

1) From Google Drawing to Lasercut Designs for the Glowforge - Getting Started
2) From Google Drawing to Lasercut Design for the Glowforge - Next Steps

3) Creating Laser Cut Designs using Gravit for the Glow Forge -- a Cloud based Vector App -

Getting Started with Gravit using Primitive Shapes
Getting Started - Finding Joy Project
Getting Started with Gravit Importing SVG graphics

4) Creating Laser Cut Designs using Gravit Next Steps -- Working with Text

And for a wonderful set of short intro video tutorials to Gravit, check out John Umekubo's series here starting with his BASICS tutorial below

5) Creating Laser Cut Designs using Inkscape - Getting Started

6) Creating Laser Cut Designs using Inkscape - Next Steps

Inkscape Tutorial for Laser Cutter from Washco Utah Library Makerspace

From Google Drawing to  Lasercut Design for the Glowforge -  Next Steps

For this project, I wanted to find a simple silhouette that would lend itself to be 'cut' out of wood.   There are several places to find great icons, including Flat Icon and IconFinder.  My favorite place to look for icon's that might work well is THE NOUN PROJECT.   It has over a million icons. These are free to use with attribution.  

I love this site so much that I subscribe to the Noun PRO version for  less than $20 per year.  This allows me to use any icon on the site without attribution and also adds features such as SVG download  and a few other apps  for easy integration with tools such as Google Slides, Adobe products, etc.

The trick is to look for a shape that will work well for your project.  The shape below could work well if you are trying to cut out a rose out of a round circular disk. But if you wanted to insert it inside a hollow circle, you would have to make sure that each part overlaps with the circular rim, so that the piece doesn't just fall out. 

After some consideration about my design, I selected the following icon from the Noun Project. 

I downloaded the PNG version to upload to Google Drawing.  The ability to download the SVG version comes with my subscription to NOUN Pro. This will come in handy in future tutorials, but when working with Google Draw, the PNG download works well.   You can use the handles to resize your icon, or you can type in a width and height that will work well for your project in the format options. 

I decided to use two roses in my design.  With a little resizing and nudging, I was able to create a design where the icon would overlap with the circle and rectangle shapes of the  ornament, leaving only the negative space to fall out. 

NOTE:  If you would like to import SVG images into Google Drawing, you  can do so but will have to convert them to *EMF files using a tool like Cloud Convert.   

From the first tutorial, you might remember how important it was to have contrasting colors, and to make sure that the borders of all parts are set to zero.  This will make it easier for the SVG converter to convert the file.  Check out my first tutorial   for a refresher on how to use the PICSVG site to convert your PNG design to an SVG file that will work within GlowForge. 

Experiment with the best conversion setting when using 
Note that the first setting I tried left double lines when imported into GlowForge.
My second attempt to convert the SVG file created a nice clean line that cut as expected with my Glowforge laser cutter.  I used GREAT for Details and FILTER Ready#3. 

Next, I uploaded the ORNAMENT template (SVG file)  into  the GlowForge  software and selected the correct settings to cut  the material.  I usually cut my first prototype in cardboard.  Please see last week's tutorial  for important safety information about cutting cardboard on your Glowforge.  

The next step will be to find a font that works well with your design.  The trick with fonts other than Stencil fonts is that the inside of your letters are likely to fall out if you are looking to cut out your words on a laser cutter.  Luckily Tiffany Tseng has created a fantastic tool called Stencilfy that can help with this problem.   (note new location for Stencily here: )

To use Stencilfy,  I  first searched for a font that worked with my design.  I decided that the Pacifico font would look nice. 

I selected my desired font, and then clicked on the RED down arrow to download and unzip the *.TTF font file. 

Once you have the font file downloaded, navigate to Stencilfy site
  (note new location for Stencily here: )
and upload that font file using the Choose a file option.  Type in the Text you would like cut out of your design. 

Notice that Stencilfy sliced the text in just the right places so that the the center of your letters would not fall out when cut.  You'll also notice that there are cut lines in places where the letters overlap.  This will work just fine in my design since the letters will be cut out.   EXPORT the text as an SVG file.
  (note new location for Stencily here: )

Proceed to your Glowforge software to upload the Stencilfied text SVG file.

Select the right settings to cut your text out using the material you are working with.  Resize and align your font so it fits inside your design.   Leave ample room around your text so that your design is not too delicate.  It's easy to accidentally break your piece while peeling off the masking if the design is too fragile (she says from experience).  I would cut the text first, then cut the ornament by dragging the cut files in the order they would like them cut.

and Voila!  A cardboard prototype followed by a design cut out of Proofgrade Poplar.

If you prefer to engrave your text, you can skip the Stencilfy steps.  With the Glowforge it's quite easy to flip your material over and engrave both sides of your ornament or badge. 

In my next  tutorial in this series, I'll share my early journey into - a cloud based tool that allows you to create vector designs on a Chromebook.  This tool will add even more options for your designs.  Here is a sneak preview of what we will be able to do with


  1. I am very Glad to see your informational Post! Just saw that laser cutting machine at the Maker Faire. How it is holding up for you? You use t for cutting versus engraving often. Also curious if you got Lightburn running on it too.

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