Favourite Laser Cut Souvenir from Venice

A laser-cut souvenir pop-up card from Venice.

My favourite laser cut souvenir so far…

Wherever I go my eye is always drawn to laser-cut and laser-etched items, and (as I mentioned in the last post) I was really pleased to see plenty of good quality laser-y products while I was on holiday earlier this month. In fact I was so pleased to see them that I even bought a few laser cut souvenirs.

This is a card that I bought in the Doge’s Palace. It’s got a nice simple front…

venice laser cut souvenir - front
Venice laser cut souvenir – front

…and then when you open it you get the “wow” of the pop-up effect:

venice laser cut souvenir - inside
Venice laser cut souvenir – inside

Here is a close-up of the inside:

venice laser cut souvenir - close up

This is the back of the card:

venice laser cut souvenir - back
Back of card

 

The makers are a bit mysterious – I can’t find them anywhere via the usual search engines – so if you can point me to their website please let me know! You can do that via the contact us page or Twitter (@LaserSister), or Facebook or the comments section below. Thanks!

William Morris Style Laser Cut Birthday Card Designs

William Morris alphabet birthday cards. Card toppers. Laser cutter ideas and inspiration.

William Morris Style Laser Cut Birthday Cards

This week I’ve been developing William Morris-style laser cut birthday cards.

After a couple of days’ tinkering, I ended up with some really nice filigree designs of card toppers:

William Morris style laser cut birthday card: E
Birthday card design: E
william morris style laser cut birthday card F
Testing a gold “F” design

Where to find images and inspiration for your laser cutter

For the letters shown above, I bought the extended licence from Dreamstime, which is a website where you can buy royalty-free photos and vector-based illustrations.

Here are the art nouveau alphabet images that I used. Alternatively, you can enter your own search terms in the box below, to look for specific resources. For example, type “Art nouveau”, or “William Morris alphabet” in the box, and then click the ‘search’ button.

Stock Images

Another great resource that I’ve found for royalty-free designs is Vectorstock.com. They seem to have forgotten to use an apostrophe in the link/banner below, but they still do a brilliant range of illustrations. And because their files are all vector-based graphics, that means that they are usually very straightforward to cut with a laser cutter:

And at the moment (April 2018) both sites are even more useful if you have your own laser cutting business, because they can provide a little bit of extra income on top of your actual laser-cut products. You can either upload some of your own original designs and allow people to buy licences to use them, or can sign up as an ‘affiliate’.

For example, with Vectorstock I uploaded my elephant design so that other people with laser cutters can use it in their own designs. Then every time someone purchases a licence for the elephant, I receive a few cents, but there is no extra cost to the purchaser. Win/win!

Similarly, with affiliate links and referral schemes, you can also receive small payments just for pointing people towards something that they are already interested in. As another example, if you include the banners/ads for these services (like the ones shown above) you could receive a small payment each time someone signs up and/or purchases a licence.

Hope you enjoyed this post. Don’t forget to say ‘hi’ via the contact us page, or to tweet me @LaserSister if you’ve tried any of the above ideas or if you’ve got comments or questions.

Swirly Filigree Valentine

It’s that time of year again, so I’ve been designing a swirly filigree heart for lasercutting.

It’s that time of year again.

So I’ve been trying to develop a heart design where I can fairly easily insert people’s names, or phrases or dates, etc. This is how far I’ve got:

swirly filigree valentine heart for lasercutting

swirly filigree valentine heart for lasercutting

… and this is what my latest experiments look like when I’ve cut them out:

valentine red heart swirly filigree papercut
valentine red heart papercut
valentine silver filigree papercutting
valentine silver filigree papercut
white valentine filigree papercutting
white valentine filigree papercut

Free Sample Day!

Today I’m offering sample of laser-cut confetti to local businesses…

IMG_3063.JPGLast week at Autumn Fair I got some really nice comments about my wedding-related personalised items, so today I am going to a wedding fair in Worthing to see if anyone there would like some free samples.

I still haven’t seen anyone else yet who makes laser-cut personalised confetti, so I hope I’m offering a useful service 🙂

 

William Morris Style “K” Initial Coaster

New design for a William Morris style coaster with the initial “K”

Following on from the previous post where I was making some new cards with William Morris style alphabet designs, this is my latest experiment. Same design, but this time it’s etched onto a round wooden coaster instead of cut into card or paper.

SAM_2982 - Edited.jpg

Step-by-Step: How to Create Hand-Drawn Vectors for Lasercutting

Guaranteed way to get a completely free vector image to use in your work 🙂

Laser-cut hand-drawn flower vector
Laser-cut hand-drawn flower vector

The previous article described how to use ready-made stock vector images for lasercutting work, but sometimes (depending on how the artist created the original image) it can still take several hours of ‘tweaking’ to make them suitable for your own project.

What if you already know the sort of design you want, and could draw it quickly by hand but you’re stuck with using a mouse or trackpad that doesn’t quite do the job? This article will show a quick way to create hand-drawn vector images for your lasercutting projects, that you know will be exactly right for your work because you created them. Plus they’re original and you don’t need to pay anyone for the rights to use them!

You will need:

  • White paper
  • Thick black pen (e.g. a Sharpie, or I just get cheap markers from Wilko)
  • Drawing software (e.g. I use CorelDraw, or you could use Illustrator or others)

Step 1: Use the thick black pen to draw your designs.

Flower shapes for lasercutting, drawn with a thick black pen
Hand-drawn florals: thick black pen on white paper.

Step 2: Scan or photograph your hand-drawn image, and save it somewhere that you’ll be able to retrieve it from your drawing application.

Step 3: Open your drawing software and import the image (in CorelDraw use Ctrl + I, and in Illustrator I think it’s File > Place)

Photo of hand-drawn flowers has been imported into CorelDraw
Photo of hand-drawn flowers has been imported into CorelDraw

 

Step 4: Now you basically need to get the software to turn your photo (millions of pixels) into vectors (hundreds of coordinates), so you’ll be able to create a design that your laser can cut. In CorelDraw you can do this by selecting the image and then go to Bitmaps > Quick Trace. (In Illustrator it’s called Live Trace.) The software then simplifies blocks of colour and turns them into separate objects:

The black parts of the image have automatically been changed into black objects with smoother outlines.
The black parts of the image have automatically been changed into black objects with smoother outlines.

 

Step 5: (Optional) The software doesn’t always get the conversion exactly right, so you might end up with an object made up of a couple of layers of colour (in the case below, there is a solid black flower outline, with some grey petal shapes on top of it, instead of being made of thin black outlines). In CorelDraw it’s easy to ungroup the object (Ctrl + U), and then highlight the group of object (e.g. the flower in this case) and go into Arrange > Shaping > Back Minus Front.

Left-hand flower looks like one object ready for lasercutting, but it's actually made up of a big black shape with six grey shapes on top of it.
Left-hand flower looks like one object, but it’s actually made up of a big black shape with six grey shapes on top of it.

 

Hand-drawn flower vector ready for lasercutting. Grey shapes have been removed, so the flower is now one object made of black lines.
Grey shapes have been removed, so the flower is now one object made of black lines.

 

Step 6: (Optional) If you want, you can copy shapes and/or move or re-size them until you have the design that you want.

hand-drawn florals combined.gif

 

Step 7: If you want to cut the shapes then make sure they have a thin or hairline-width outline, but if you just want to etch the shapes then they don’t need the thin outline:

Hand-drawn flower vectors with thin blue outlines, ready for laser cutting
Hand-drawn flower vectors with thin blue outlines

 

Step 8: (Optional) If you have combined several shapes in one design, you may need to ‘weld’ them together before you cut them. The laser cutter will cut anything that has a thin outline, and so in the example above, the three flowers would be cut out separately. To make sure the laser sees all of the flowers as one design and not as individual objects to cut out, you can use the ‘weld’ function (in CorelDraw it’s Arrange > Shaping > Weld.)

Hand-drawn flowers with one outline, ready for laser cutting
Hand-drawn flowers with one outline (compare the middle flower with the previous picture), ready for laser cutting

The design should now cut properly.

Laser-cut hand-drawn flower vectors
Laser-cut hand-drawn flower vectors (smaller and larger versions)