Making Decorations

Once you have the appropriate graphic for the special occasion, you can make it into a nice acrylic etched or laser cut decoration. Here’s an example of how to do that using inkscape software and the Full Spectrum Laser at Workshop88.

Find or make the graphic

The first step is to find the right black and white clipart for your project. Assuming you are not an artist and don’t create by hand what you need.

Convert (JPG, PNG) image to SVG

  • Once you have the graphic, import the image into Inkscape and select the image. (Click on the image and there should be arrows at all the edges like shown.) This is an important step.

Then from the menu select Path->Trace Bitmap.

  • Change settings on Trace Bitmap window to 2 colors, grays, smooth, stack and remove background.

Note the items underlined in red.

You should see the picture in the update window. If you don’t see the image on the right, start over and try again. Save the image as Optimized SVG. When you see the image in the update window, (give it a minute, watch the status bar) select the image (on top) again and move it to the side and then delete the duplicate picture underneath. Then move the image back to the center. Now you have the traced bitmap that can be saved as an .SVG file type.

That is your SVG image that will outline the letters and give you something to raster. The acrylic example below was done using raster settings only. For effect (and suggested by a member), light was shined through the side of the acrylic to make the image glow.

Acrylic (Clear) Material


Laser etch acrylic with your favorite scene and/or holiday greeting

Wood (Thin)

Or the wood version if you prefer.

Raster and Vector

When laser cutting, you learn the difference between raster and vector. The image was rastered first. Raster: Fast sweeps of the laser eye, over the wood to lightly etch away and burn the wood. And then vector (solid burn) just the outline of the letters to give it that extra stand out – outline. And the entire object cut along the edge with a hole for hanging on a hook. I prefer rounded edges for my projects so there are no sharp corners. And a hole for hanging the decoration. This image was well suited for that style.

Control of the Laser Instructions

In order to get the vector to outline just the letters, while in the Full Spectrum Laser software, Retina Engrave, you need to change the color of the letters. Then provide instructions for just that color. I made the word Thanksgiving in Yellow, just so that it was a color other than black.

This allows you to control the vector attributes for just the parts you select. Notice in the blue circle, the color yellow will only pass over once and the other colors red and black are set to 0 (zero) so that the laser will not vector those colors at all.

Whenever using the laser cutter, consult the document on workshop88.com Menu Item W88 Docs->Laser cutter to get guidance for settings. Always do a small test on practice material first. NOTE: Using the laser cutter REQUIRES training/certification of members, PRIOR to use.

Stop by on Thursday evening to talk about your project ideas and to see what is going on at the Workshop88 makerspace.

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