Merging the Traditional with Cutting Edge

By Glowforge

Challenge: Create original artwork by combining traditional printmaking techniques with cutting and engraving technology.

Printmaking has changed a lot over time! Let’s replicate or combine traditional printmaking techniques with digital tools to design and produce unique, cutting edge artwork, like posters, artistic prints, or clothing.

Facilitation Guide


Printmakers have used analog printmaking for centuries to produce copies of original images. Images were created on flat surfaces, such as a linoleum block or metal plate, using ink or engraving techniques and then transferred onto paper, wood, glass, or other materials. Printmakers often incorporate texture & depth into their work: for example, screen printing uses layers of ink to produce an image, while the intaglio process uses etching and engraving.

Digital printmakers use a computer or other device to create images for limited distribution. These artists often use traditional techniques to create elements that are edited together digitally using various types of design software.

Whether creating a simple linocut or using complex intaglio processes like etching, Glowforge can help streamline the design process while also providing flexibility in material choice. It’s the perfect tool for merging analog printmaking techniques with digital elements, because its laser can cut, engrave, and score materials. Plus, you’ll have tons of design tools at your fingertips so you can create the perfect image!


Research and explore solutions to the printmaking challenge. Examine traditional techniques such as relief, intaglio, or stencil. Consider the following:

  • Based on your research, which traditional printmaking techniques do you find inspiring or intriguing?
  • What will the focus of your print be?
  • Which digital techniques might be compelling? Which tools exist to help you with this?
  • How might you use Glowforge to add depth and texture to the final print?

Explore Tip

Not sure how to use cutting or engraving in your print? Try using Magic Canvas in the Glowforge App, along with your research on traditional techniques, to generate art based on any prompt you type in. You can use the ‘Adult Coloring Book’ style to help you think about positive and negative space.

Reflect and Review

Take a moment to reflect on the research you did for your printmaking design.

  • What did you learn about traditional printmaking techniques that can be applied using Glowforge and other digital tools?
  • What techniques or elements will you use to highlight the focus of your print?

Before brainstorming ideas, think about any other resources or techniques that would be helpful to explore before moving to the next stage..


Brainstorm and experiment with different techniques and design ideas for your print. Think of as many techniques or ideas as you can! You don’t need to worry about whether they’re good or bad ideas — just get creative! Consider the following:

  • How will you incorporate the traditional printmaking techniques you have learned about or found inspiring?
  • Experiment with design software like the Glowforge App. How could scoring, engraving, or cutting help you create your print?
  • How might you enhance the depth and texture of each design using Glowforge?
  • Is there any additional information you need before you design your print?

Ideate Tip

The Glowforge App provides lots design techniques to experiment with. You can also export your design from the Glowforge App and import it into other design software like Inkscape, Adobe Illustrator, or Photoshop to enhance the techniques you use.

Reflect and Review

Take a moment to reflect on the ideas you brainstormed.

  • Are any of your ideas similar enough to be grouped together?
  • Do any print ideas standout as your favorites? Which ideas might you disregard?

Consider if there are any gaps in your brainstorming ideas and techniques that you want to consider before moving to the Design stage where you will narrow your ideas to one or two to fully create your print.


Review the ideas and techniques you brainstormed and select one or two that you would like to develop further by creating sketches or digital mockups. Think about:

  • What [tools and materials]( do you need to develop your print idea(s) using Glowforge?
  • What design software, such as the Glowforge App, Inkscape, Adobe Illustrator, or Photoshop, will you utilize to achieve your desired effect?
  • How might color, font, and imagery impact your print?
  • How might you layer prints, use pressure, or vary print settings to add depth and texture to your print?
  • How might you consider how positive and negative space impact your print?

Design Tip

You can engrave drawings & sketches using Glowforge’s trace feature! Designs uploaded using this feature can be combined with other elements in the Glowforge App to enhance your print design.

For designs developed using third-party design software, files can be easily uploaded into the Glowforge App. The Glowforge can engrave from a JPG or PNG image file and it can cut or engrave from SVG and PDF files.

Reflect and Review

Now that you have spent time developing printmaking techniques, take a moment to reflect on the progress of your print design.

  • Does your print design incorporate traditional printmaking techniques while using the Glowforge?
  • Does your print design effectively communicate your idea?
  • How will you add depth and texture to your print design?

Consider if you would like to revisit your print design further to change anything before moving to the Prototype stage where you will create and test a finalized idea.


Select one fully developed design. Using your Glowforge, print all elements needed to create your print design using appropriate materials, such laser-compatible rubber or acrylic. Test one or more elements with the desired printmaking technique to examine its effectiveness. Consider the following:

  • How long will your design take to create?
  • Can you resize the image without losing detail?
  • What are the pros and cons of using different materials and techniques? What materials will you use to achieve your desired depth and texture?

Prototype Tip

Want to test your design before you start the printmaking process? Use cardboard, cardstock, or even paper to get a better sense of what will be cut or engraved in your design. Learn more about printing on paper.

When considering different materials to create your desired depth and texture, use the Glowforge User Manual to learn more about how to print safely.

Reflect and Review

Take a moment to reflect on the prototypes you created and techniques tested during this stage.

  • What do you notice about the techniques you used to add depth and texture to your print?
  • Which things might you want to revisit about your design?

Consider if there are any previous stages you might want to go back to in order to rethink any part of your print design before moving to the Evaluation stage.


Now that you’ve created and tested your print prototype, it’s time for feedback. Here are some sample questions to ask your peers in order to get useful and actionable feedback::

  • Does your final design convey the focus or message you intended?
  • How did adding analog printing techniques enhance your final print?
  • How did your use of digital tools enhance your final print?
  • How can you further improve and refine your design?

Evaluate Tip

Use an interactive whiteboard, such as Miro or Google Jamboard, to share your final print or specific design elements. Upload a picture or a video of your final print as well as the various elements you used to make the print to the whiteboard platform. You can then share the whiteboards to your peers and expand your feedback audience.

Reflect and Review

When reviewing the feedback you received, consider:

  • What aspects of your print do you need to revisit or adjust?
  • Are there stages in the design process that you would like to return to in order to make these adjustments?

Once you have completed and finalized your design it’s time to share it with a larger audience!

Share your students' creations on social media! Post your photos and use the hashtag #GlowforgeEDU and tag us @glowforge for the chance to be featured.