Now what? Well, if you’re anything like me, as was the case a year ago, you panic blindly for a bit while you attempt to navigate the world of Inkscape. But never fear - if I can figure it out, then you certainly can! This is a very beginner’s introduction to Inkscape, and some of the tools that you need to know about when designing for Ponoko.
Inkscape is a fantastic free program for creating Ponoko designs because it is free, and once you have the basics sorted it is straightforward to use. If you haven’t already, you can download a copy of Inkscape from here.
To start off, I opened one of our templates in Inkscape, which you must use or else there can be scaling problems further down the track. You can download our templates from here.
One of the first commands that is useful to learn is the keyboard command for zooming in and out. To zoom in, press the + key. To zoom out press the - key.
For the design, I wanted to make a star that the laser will cut out completely. The most straightforward way to do this is to select the ‘create stars and polygons’ tool on the left hand side of the menu. When you click on the template safe area, you can then draw a star, using the mouse to expand it to the size that you want.
To move the star to a different place on the template, I clicked on the ‘select and transform objects’ black arrow tool. A box then appeared around my star, and I moved it to a different place in the template by using the mouse to drag and drop it.
I then needed to set the correct colors and line thickness for laser cutting. I clicked on Object > Fill and Stroke and a menu appeared on the right-hand side of the screen.
I needed to select the star shape again, to change the color of the line. I did this by clicking on the ‘edit paths by nodes’ black arrow tool on the left-hand side of the screen. A dashed line appeared around the star.
To change the line color, I turned back to the Fill and Stroke box in the right hand menu. I did not want a fill, so clicked on the ‘x’ in the panel.
I then clicked on the next tab titled ‘Stroke paint’. I wanted my star to be cut out, so needed to set the colors for a blue cutting line: R 0; G 0; B 255. I left A at 255 as well.
Finally, I needed to set the stroke weight to 0.01mm. I clicked the next tab titled ‘Stroke Style’ and made sure that the measurements were set to mm. I entered 0.01mm as the value.
And that’s it - the file can then be saved as an SVG and uploaded to the Ponoko site for a simple star design to be cut out. If you’re up for more of a challenge, you can have a go at tracing a simple image in Inkscape, as per this forum post.