Ridin' With Rio

JBs Glowforge Photoshop Actions - Installation, Playing, Advanced Features

How To: Install and Run JB's Glowforge Photoshop Actions 

A quick overview of how to install JB's Glowforge Photoshop Actions. 

- Find your downloaded .ZIP file
- Extract
- Double-click the .ATN file to install into Photoshop (the install is silent, so don't click repeatedly unless you want a bunch of copies)
- Open an image in Photoshop
- Open the Actions palette (Window > Actions)
- Resize the palette window by dragging, so that you can see all of the actions
- The actions are in a folder, and only one action needs to be processed. Select an action, such as 2a, and click the play button.


How To: Perform Advanced Editing Using JB's Glowforge Photoshop Actions

The actions do an excellent job of processing most photos; some photos need a little more love though, or, need a bit of tweaking to accentuate certain aspects of the photo. 

To manually edit a processed photo, click STOP when the resizing prompt occurs.

Double-click the layer thumbnail (check the video for exactly what that is) to open the properties for that particular smart layer. 

Adjust accordingly.

The two layers that make the biggest difference to the final product are the Black and White Mix layer and the Shadows/Highlights layer. I would recommend starting there.


How To: Perform a Test Engrave on a Processed Image

A test engrave can be very useful for both making sure that you've nailed the details for a particular image, and making sure that your engrave settings on the laser are correct.

Once an image has been resized, do NOT resize it. This is why resizing is not an option in the actions, but a requirement. To perform a test engrave, process and edit your image as you normally would. 

Once you have the grayscale version, use the marquee tool (shortcut key: M) to make a small selection of your image on the area you'd like to test. Eyes, if it's a portrait, or any particularly difficult part of the image. 

WIth a selection made, run the Test Burn action to export a full-size crop of that segment of the image.


How To: Reset an Image to Original

Sometimes, you just mess up on an image. As Forrest Gump says, "shit happens." Part of getting this process right though is experimenting. What can you screw up? It's just a copy of your image. Experiment away.

But, if you ever want to start over, it's very easy. From your original, processed image (the one with all of the layers), just run the Reset to Original action and your image will be restored to its original state.



Mobile Manufacturing: Traveling With a Laser

Mobile Manufacturing: Traveling With a Laser

Just over a year ago, Rio and I hit the wide open road and headed west to do something that sounded really awesome at the time… something that no one else seemed to be doing — mobile manufacturing - honest to goodness manufacturing while on the road. 

Read more →

Ten Random Glowforge Tips and Tricks

Ten Random Glowforge Tips and Tricks


  1. Worrying about cents will cost you dollars. Trying to forego material testing so as to not waste a few cents of material will cost you dollars in the long run.

    Using a material test template like this will save you lots of frustration.

    Tip: If you use one material for one type of project a lot, for example you picked up one of our DIY Puzzle Kits, make your test cuts using a representative sample of the design, like this 3x5" puzzle template

  2. Use colors in your design software to order operations automatically: The order of operations in the app is predictable based upon the hexadecimal, or base 16, values. Check out the many different palettes that have been designed for different programs like Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape, and Affinity Designer: https://community.glowforge.com/t/custom-inkscape-illustrator-coreldraw-and-affinity-designer-color-palettes-for-ordering-operations-in-gfui/

  3. Stroke/Score/Fill - and stroke size doesn’t matter: A vector object (if you don’t know what exactly a vector is, check out this explanation by Big Blue Laser Designs) can have a stroke and/or a fill. Simply, a stroke is the outline of the object and a fill is filling the inside of that shape with a solid color.

    To cut a vector: An object should be assigned a stroke.
    To engrave a vector: An object should be assigned a fill.

    The stroke and fill colors follow the rules in the tip in item #2 on this list: if they are different colors, they will be separate jobs in the app, meaning they can have different job settings assigned to them. For example, assigning one stroke color a lower power cut (or “Score”) so that it makes an outline of an object but doesn’t cut all of the way through.

    Tip: I like to use a stroke size of .008” to simulate the actual size of the beam, especially on intricate designs where overlap may occur.

  4. Just because it’s an SVG doesn’t mean it’s a vector: I see a lot of people saying that the app refuses to cut, saying bitmaps can only be engraved, but they are using SVG files. SVG files are container-type files - they can contain both raster and vector data. Placing a bitmap object (an image) into a SVG file does not make it a vector.

  5. Calipers are important, but not always - because, Set Focus: Knowing your material thickness is important for designing tabs and slots. It’s also important for comparing potential settings between materials; 1/4” plywood is rarely 1/4” - it can range from .180” up to .240”. However, knowing this thickness is not needed for setting an “uncertified material thickness.” Use the Set Focus tool. Click the gear icon, and use the Set Focus option. This will measure the distance from the laser head to the material in a spot that you select.

    Tip: Use one or the other. If you are setting the uncertified material thickness, and then using Set Focus, you are doing extra work. Likewise, if you use the Set Focus tool, the uncertified material thickness field will be locked because it’s not needed. The first thing I do on a new job is use the Set Focus tool, and while it’s determining the height, I set my job parameters. This also has the benefit of saving you time since it will not perform the auto-focus scan at the beginning of the job.

  6. Resolution Matters: If you’re trying to engrave a 500-pixel image you found on the internet at 8x10”, it’s not going to look good. Starting with a high-quality, high-resolution image will always give you better results. Garbage in, garbage out.

  7. 12x20 artboard: I actually recommend this for a specific reason, even though it exceeds the actual current working area. The software will recognize this aspect ratio when loading the file and know exactly how to size your artwork regardless of the units used (or not used) in the code of the file. Also, a 12x20” artboard will load your artwork in exactly the place that it is in the file - perfect for jigs.

  8. Holddown Pins: After you cut your first 3 projects, these honeycomb bed hold down pins should be your very next project. They are worth their weight in gold. Trust me. Your material needs to be flat to cut successfully, and these do exactly that.

  9. Oops, you deleted your design and the project is empty: Click the … menu on the app toolbar and select Reset design. This will revert the design to its original state. But, it only works on Glowforge provided designs.  

    Glowforge App Reset design

  10. Engraving direction: If you can, rotate your design so that the engrave is wider than it is tall (but pay attention to the woodgrain). The rectangle on the right will engrave faster than the rectangle on the left.

    Engrave rectangle direction example