Tool Location

Laser Cutters/Craftland

 

Tool Type

Software

Additional Information

Overview

Inkscape is a free vector graphics editor. In the Invention Studio, the vector graphics editing software is primarily used to prepare and edit files for laser cutting, embroidery and vinyl cutting.

Materials

The default file type of Inkscape is a .svg

Inkscape can import many file types including:

  • .dxf
  • .ai
  • .pdf
  • .png
  • .jpg
  • .bmp

Inkscape can export several file file types including:

  • .pdf
  • .png
  • .jpg
  • .bmp
  • .dxf

Note: Adobe Illustrator is a widely used vector graphics editor program similar to Inkscape. However, it is not recommended to use this program to create files for the Invention Studio’s lasers as various tedious issues may occur such as automatic multi-layered grouping and scaling mismatch.

Example Work

Low Poly Portrait

This type of portrait is ideal for vinyl cutting.

Line Portrait

A nice tutorial that shows how to create a line portrait which is ideal for laser engraving.

Vector Swirls

One of the cool tricks you can use to design your own projects using Inkscape

How To Use This Tool

Setup

Inkscape can be downloaded from https://inkscape.org/en/ 

A useful set of extensions and palettes for laser cutting can be downloaded here: 

https://inkscape.org/en/gallery/=extension/

Operation

Understanding the difference between pixel and vector images:

  • The vast majority of digital images are called bitmap or raster images. These images are composed of a mosaic like pattern of square pixels, each with its own color. The density of these pixels relates to the resolution of the image. Resolution becomes very important when scaling an image size. An image of high resolution that is scaled down, and the up to the original size will have lost much of its detail. This loss can be very troublesome for machines like the laser cutter. Vector images are not made of pixels. That means they have no resolution and will never lose detail will scaling.
  • The methods for editing vectors differs from raster images and can be unituitive to those used to raster images. Raster editors all have types of brush tools that change the color of individual pixels. Most raster programs also have a paint bucket tool that changes the color of an entire region.
  • Editing vector images is similar to using that paint bucket tool. Vector images can be thought of as shapes. Each shape can have color applied to it in two ways; as a fill or as a stroke. Assigning a fill color will fill the entire region of the selected shapes with that color (The laser cutter identify a filled shape as an engrave job). Assigning a stroke color will outline the selected shapes with that color (The laser cutter will identify a stroke as a cut job).

Convert a pixel image to vector:

  1. Often it is easier to start from a traditional source image comprised of pixels such as a .jpg, .png, or .bmp file.
  2. Once you have uploaded your pixelated image into inkscape, go to Path >Trace Bitmap.
  3. This will present a variety of tracing options. In general, Brightness Cuttoff is the best tracing option for laser work. The Colors option can be used as well, but these traces will require additional modification after tracing.

Setting Fill and Stroke

  1. Select the path that you’d like to modify. Go to Object > Fill and Stroke. (You can also right click the path and select the option that appears)
  2. Use the window that pops up to assign the fill and stroke of your path. Take note that unique settings can be assigned to up to 16 predefined colors. The colors of the path must match the exact RGB values that JobControl is expecting. For more information on Jobcontrol, see Jobcontrol.

Alternatively, at the bottom of Inkscape is a color bar that has the 16 predefined colors. To use it, simply select your path and click on the color that you’d like your path to be. To apply a stroke, click shift while selecting the color of your choice.

Additional Resources:

References:

Inkscape: Guide to a Vector Drawing Program. (n.d.). Retrieved July 8, 2018, from: http://tavmjong.free.fr/INKSCAPE/MANUAL/html/

Author Information

Article was written by Reed Morris and edited by Jeff Park.

Last Updated: August 15 2018.

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