Creating Cute Laser Cut Character Cut-Outs Using the Glowforge!
My brother and I purchased a Glowforge laser printer during quarantine, and it's honestly one of the coolest pieces of equipment I've ever used. To be honest, it's pretty intimidating at first - there are SO many possibilities and uses and I'm still trying to find my "niche." I haven't decided if I want to pursue creating wall art, or designing products for weddings, or engraving gifts, or potentially creating and testing files to sell for others to use. There's such a wide market out there for laser cut goods, and I'm still trying to figure out how to navigate it. I'm having a really fun time so far though!
One of the things I want to make sure I continue to do - regardless of what my business brings - is to include my doodles. Samantha's Doodles started with drawings, and designing is honestly the most enjoyable part for me. That's saying a lot, because watching the laser work is fascinating!!
The project I've been working on most recently is creating cut-out wood characters. These could either be used as wall art on their own or cutouts to go on nursery signs. I can even see them as decorations on a cute nursery bookshelf or in a classroom - there are a lot of possibilities.
I initially had designed 10 characters as part of my "Plushies" sticker collection, and decided to re-purpose those designs for use with the Glowforge along with a few of my other sticker designs. They've since been through a variety of design changes and tests, but I think I'm finally getting to the point where I am confident in the designs.
Here's a look at the finished product for a few of those designs:
They aren't perfect because these were my prototypes, but I think they turned out pretty cute. There are still a few I'm testing out and adjusting, but I hope to have these up on my shop in September all ready to go.
Here's how I made them!!
1) First, I drew the designs on my iPad pro using the Procreate app. It was $9.99 in the app store when I first purchased it, and I have used it to design almost every single sticker in my shop since then. It uses raster images, so if you prefer to work with vectors (and cut out the middle steps here) - you may want to use a different program.
2) Once I was satisfied with the line art, I exported the file as a .PNG with a transparent background.
3) I use a Windows laptop, so I use Google Photos to back up all my images and move them from one device to another. Once on my laptop, I import the files into Inkscape, use the "Trace Bitmap" feature, and turn the design into a vector to use with the Glowforge.
4) In the Glowforge app, I use the blue plus sign to upload the files, and then create outlines for each design so that I have a base to glue the pieces to. I do this by using the "outline" tool and changing the offset to 0" so it matches the exact size of the character.
5. Change the cut settings to "cut" instead of engrave. This will cut out each individual piece for the characters.
6. From here, it can go one of two ways.
If the design is going to be finished with resin, I don't worry about priming the pieces or sanding them before painting, because the resin coat is going to smooth out any imperfections in the paint finish.
If the character is going to be painted and left alone, that's when I would prime, sand, repeat as needed, and then finish with a coat of spray paint for each color.
Regardless of which way - you need to paint each piece of the character in whatever color. From there, once it's had time to dry completely, you can assemble it. My preference is to use Loctite super glue, because it dries quickly.
This is what the pieces look like once assembled:
It would be fine to leave it this way, but I'm like Kesha and think there's no such thing as too much glitter.
7. I mixed up my resin (I have been using Mas Epoxies Art Pro) with some Painthuffer Metal Flake in the color "Blow" and apply it to each character. I would say I probably use 1-2 oz per character, depending on the size.
8. Once cured, I will check for imperfections & apply a second coat if needed.
9. Once I am satisfied with the finish, I will sand the drips off the backs with my orbital sander and either paint or stain it black to match the outlines.
10. Then I simply apply a sawtooth hanger to the back and they are ready to go!
Here's a look at a few more of the designs close up:
I think they turned out absolutely adorable. There's a few things I need to fix in the next batch - like making their eyes have less small pieces - but ultimately I'm really pleased with how these cute little characters turned out.
What other animals should I add to the collection?