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Creating your own designs to cut and engrave with your Glowforge can open up so many possibilities – but it can be overwhelming to start with! Here are the eight best Glowforge design programs available – they are. an option for every skill level!
One of the most frequently asked questions I see in the various Glowforge groups I am in is, “What do you use to design your projects for your Glowforge?”
Glowforge has incorporated a variety of design tools and images into its app, but most people find this a bit limiting. I really don’t see a lot of people saying they use it exclusively or at all.
Having read different opinions about design programs, I thought it would be helpful to provide an overview of these different programs so that you can decide which program best suits your needs. These are the most cited programs I’ve seen and it seems like a lot of people would be happy to use them. Of course, you have to try a little bit to find out what works best for you!
I haven’t used most of these programs myself, so I’ll just give the names and basic information, along with some things I’ve seen from people. Comment below with your favorites!
And if you’re still in the process of buying a Glowforge, make sure you shop through our link to save $ 500 on a Glowforge Pro and $ 250 on a Glowforge Basic!
What is it?
Inkscape is a program that allows you to create vector graphics for free.
Inkscape is a free program to download
- Inkscape is free, professional-grade software that works on both Mac and Windows platforms.
- Good for beginners
- Large number of design tools
- People use it to create: diagrams, logos, programmatic marketing materials, web graphics, scrapbooking.
- Good for making banners, posters and brochures.
- The file format is SVG
- Streaming text is not supported outside of the program. You need to convert it to plain text first.
This software is good for beginners, but there is also a very steep learning curve that comes with it. So be prepared to learn the ropes and spend time figuring it all out. Glowforge has some tutorials for Inkscape, and since it’s such a popular program, there are plenty of people on the Glowforge forums for tips and tricks.
Some tools need improvement and compatibility with Illustrator creates some problems.
Silhouette Business Edition
What is it?
The Silhouette Business Edition is the main software design program that is widely used among craftsmen. This program is best for beginners.
The Basic version that came with your device is free, but the Business Edition (as well as the Designer Edition) is available as an upgrade. The Business Edition is intended as a supplement to the Designer Edition.
If you own the Designer Edition, all you have to do is purchase the $ 34.99 upgrade from Swing Design. If you don’t have the Designer Edition, you can purchase the Business Edition from Swing Design for $ 59.
- If you’re designing files in Adobe, Core, etc., you can open them right in Silhouette Business Edition.
- Supports multiple cutters – this means that if you want to use more than one Silhouette machine, you can connect them to the same computer and run both. You can cut the same design or different designs at the same time.
- Tile function – this automatically cuts the job into smaller pieces.
- Allows the nesting feature to save your projects
- The matrix copy function allows you to design in Silhouette Studio and then replicate it without changing the original design.
- Automatically adds weeding lines to your project
- Ability to use SVG files
- Uses JPG, BMP, and PNG files
Most people find this software easy to use and most helpful for doing a variety of things. It’s one of the most popular options for beginners and advanced learners alike.
Adobe Illustrator is a design app used for creativity with shapes, colors, effects, and typography. Work with it on your laptop, desktop, or smartphone to create designs to sell, print, animate, and more!
You can sign up for a 7-day free trial, but you end up paying around $ 20 per month for the subscription
- Integrates with all other Creative Cloud products like Photoshop
- Great customer service – monthly subscription available for customer support
- Software works for beginners to experienced designers
- Allows you to collaborate on files, track versions, create mirror images, change spacing, and other editing processes.
- Allows users to create and export custom banners in JPG and PNG file formats.
- Offers iOS and Android based mobile applications,
Most of the users say they love the flexibility of the program, but it can also be complex. So be patient with yourself as you learn the ropes as most people complain about the learning curve. But remember – the customer support is great and you can always reach them if you have a question!
This is definitely not a super beginner program. We definitely recommend taking a class or two – there are plenty of free and affordable ones online. We are personally fans of all classes that Creative Live offers on Adobe Illustrator!
Affinity Designer is a great design and illustration program. It is web and iPhone supported
A one-time subscription fee of $ 61 for Mac and Windows users, or around $ 22 for iPad users – start with a free trial.
- Loads faster than many other design programs
- Speed, power and precision are its strengths
- The same basic tools as Vector
- No monthly subscription fees
- Allows a fluid workflow between Mac and iPad versions of the app
- Tools are easy to learn
- Supports multiple image and vector file formats including EPS, PNG, TIFF, GIP, JPEG, PDF, SVG, and PSD
- Allows creative teams to add to projects
- Search filter
- Drag-and-drop function
This is a great program even if you are not an advanced Illustrator or Photoshop user, and it is easily used and enjoyed by all skill levels.
Cuts a lot for sure
What is it
Sure Cuts A Lot is a great program for beginners to cut pretty much any font or shape with an electronic cutting machine.
Price starts at $ 39.99
- Work area can be up to 200 ″ x200 ″
- Has vectorization functions
- Print and cut functions
- 3D shadows
- Works with thousands of free TrueType fonts, including Dingbat / Wingding fonts
- Imports from various file formats such as SVG and PDF
- Available for Windows and Macintosh OSX
- You can share design space and save
- You can combine fonts, existing shapes / graphics or draw your own.
This is tailored for beginners but includes some advanced exponents. Some users complain that it isn’t the most intuitive software and that it doesn’t have a lot of tutorials
Corel Draw is a great vector editor, perfect for beginners, that is a full suite of professional graphic design applications for vector illustration, layout, photo editing, and more – and can be used on the platform of your choice.
You can start with a 7-day free trial and if you love it, you can buy it for $ 250 per year (around $ 21 per month).
- 2D drawing
- Batch processing
- Collaboration tools
- Color matching
- Content import / export
- Custom fonts
- Design templates
- Real-time editing
- Color pattern and art store
- Presentation tools
- 7,000 cliparts, digital images and vehicle foil templates
- 1,000 high resolution digital photos
- Over 1,000 TrueType and OpenType fonts
- 150 professionally designed templates
Most people say that Corel Draw is easy to use, easy to learn, and has a lot going for it.
What is it
Canva is a web-based design program that can also be easily used on an iPhone and Android smartphone. It’s a great graphic design and video editing tool that lets you design and publish anything with an intuitive drag-and-drop editor.
Anyone can get an account for free, but that will limit you to the access you get. At this point, you can pay for extras and add-ons, but if you use it regularly the $ 12.99 per month is definitely affordable and worthwhile. They offer a free trial to make sure it’s right for you!
If you want to add another person it’s an additional $ 7 per month.
- Helps you create beautifully designed posters, brochures, etc. without any graphic design knowledge.
- Software that allows you to create and design an already stunning template
- Ability to change text, colors and layout
- Thousands of stock images, items, images, etc. to choose from
- Ideal for promotional material
- Easy to use!
- Great customer service and lots of tutorials to get you started
- Content import / export
- Customization options
Make sure to check out this tutorial as we show you how to use Canva to create an SVG.
One problem we had with Canva and Glowforge was that the text sometimes overlapped and wasn’t cut properly. We had to upload the image to another design program to fix the overlap, which was a bit annoying!
It is typically used for and typically by entrepreneurs, small to medium-sized businesses, and large corporations. Because of this, it’s pretty easy to use and easy to learn. Canva is great for someone who’s just into graphic design, but it is also a great intermediate tool.
Which program do you like the most? Comment below!