How to Import & Edit Designs Using Laser Cutter Software - Lightburn

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While you can certainly create stunning designs from scratch in innovative laser-cutter software such as Lightburn, you might be wondering how to import and edit images without freehanding them yourself. After all, all the time spent building your own images on the platform is less time spent engraving. If you’re looking for some tips and tricks on how to use Lightburn software, we’ll show you how!

Using the Trace feature in Lightburn (the best laser engraver software!), we will show you how to craft custom-engraved items with your own images, allowing unlimited customization! With our skilled laser machines operating under sophisticated Lightburn laser cutting software, the sky’s the limit with what you can create next! 

How to Import Designs with Laser Cutter Software

This laser engraving software works with vector images, while most images (JPG, PNG, GIF) are raster images. In order to make these raster images compatible with Lightburn, you’re going to need to trace the design and convert it into a vector image. If the picture has too many details, it won’t work, but something like a silhouette or a simple drawing will be fine. 

Trace the image

Take a simple image like the silhouette of a butterfly and import it to Lightburn using File and Import. Select the picture and click Tools, then Trace Image from the menu. You should see some lines around the dark areas; these will be the vectors. The default settings will typically give you a clear result, but you can always make adjustments as you see fit.  

tracing images in lightburn laser software

After you have successfully created your vector image, select Delete image after trace to erase the undesired layer. With your vectors, you’ll be ready to go! 

How to Edit Designs on Lightburn

Step 1: Ungroup the vector. Lightburn tends to recognize the vector as a single object, which is not recommended for wooden designs. Having space between the multiple cuts and engravings prevents the wood from breaking or becoming too damaged. 

edit designs in lightburn software

Step 2: Because the inside of the wings is very close to the area that we will be engraving, we need to select all four vectors and apply Offset Shape. Use a 2mm inside contour and delete the original vectors. 

Step 3: Add a circle atop the butterfly. This will be the hole for a keychain, ribbon, or string so that you can hang your finished piece. 

Step 4: Click the outline of the butterfly, along with the circle, and select Offset Shapes. Apply an outside offset at 34mm and leave the original. You’ll then need to Arrange and Ungroup the new items. 

Step 5: Select the new circle, the four innermost patterns of the wings, and the tiny cutout under the circle. Set these to layer 01 (blue). 

setting layers for designs in lightburn laser software

Step 6: Set the outline of the butterfly to layer 02 (red). 

Step 7: Choose the Cuts/Layers dialog window and arrange the layer order as follows: 02 (red), 01 (blue), and 00 (black). Put 02 (red) layer into Engrave settings and 01 (blue) and 00 (black) into Cut settings. Here, you can decide whether to set 02 (red) to engrave the outline of the image in Line mode, or to shade it in with Fill

creating outlines in lightburn

Step 8: Select the entire design by dragging the cursor around the whole thing and using Arrange, then Group to put them together. 

Step 9: Grab one of the corners of the image to resize it while holding down the Shift key to make sure you don’t alter the aspect ratio. Settle on a size that works for you. 

arranging and grouping designs in lightburn

Step 10: Set up your laser-cutting machine and send the file to the laser via the Laser window. Soon enough, you’ll have the finished product in your hands! 

Get Started with Lightburn Today! 

If you want to learn more about Lightburn and how it works, take a Lightburn course with Brandon from Make or Break Shop! Here, you’ll learn all there is to know about Lightburn, enabling you to create freely with your OMTech laser machine. Kickstart your laser engraving journey with user-friendly software for laser engravers and innovative laser technology from OMTech!

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