Newbie Expecting My XXL any day! Convert JPEG to vector?

(Gaylon Raney) #1

So finally decided to join the carbide 3d family! I’m brand new to CNC so I’m sure I’ll have plenty of questions on here.
First is I was wondering the exact steps to take a regular pic downloaded from the Internet and get the machine to read them. They need to be SVG file correct? So whats best process to convert to a vector file? I don’t want to hand trace I find that to be to time consuming if I have many images. I’m talking about high detail pics like a wolf face with all detail. What’s the best way and not lose to much detail?

1 last question I have yet ordered and endmills or anything going back and forth on whats really necessary just to get started and to play around with the machine and get a feel for everything…maybe 1 endmill 1 ball cutter 1 v carve? What did you guys buy just to start with?

Sorry so many questions pls don’t shoot me haha…thanks in advance for any and All Help!

(William Adams) #2

Carbide Create, which is the default CAD/CAM app for a Shapeoko only directly accepts DXF and SVG files for making 2.5D G-Code. It will allow one to place a JPEG or other pixel image on a background layer and re-draw it as described here: or you can re-draw or auto-trace the pixel image in some other vector application, then export to an SVG and process that.

To directly process a JPEG there are a couple of options:

For endmills, I suggest having dupes of any you’ll be using:

(Gaylon Raney) #3

So in actuality I dont need to spend any extra money per month on photoshop or illustrator I just need to buy mesh Cam and it will take any pic I download off the internet and accept it and make vector and cut on my XXL machine…is that correct? That will be so much easier and better cost! Thanks

(William Adams) #4

Make that: “any pic with sufficient contrast, resolution, and pixel depth and a suitable copyright status or license” and, yes.

(Gaylon Raney) #5

Wow thats sounds great I’ll play around with the machine a bit once it arrives then I’ll buy mesh cam once feel confortable and ready to step up a bit…hopefully won’t take to long lol.

Not sure what you mean buy suitable copyright or licenses but I’ll figure that out later í guess

(Stuart) #6

Congratulations! I’d suggest buying a good collection of endmills to start, as breaking them usually happens quite often early on.

I’d run with good quality 1/4 endmills. Both ball and flat, the carbide 3D ones are great value. And I’d get a heap of 1/8 and V- bits off of eBay, as the smaller bits are very easy to break when you’re getting the hang of it. They don’t usually cut as well or last as long but when you snap one it’s $2 instead of $30…

Can’t wait to see what you make, please post photos as you go :slight_smile:

(Jerry Gray) #7

Remember Vectors are just outlines of objects, not 3D models.
For 3D relief models, thats going to take some practice to find the right photos, Like Will stated, and you may want to try some free trials of Vectric Aspire, or Artcam Pro, if you want to make reliefs.
The programs are big, so you’ll want to stick with one to learn. I personally like Aspire, for the tutorials, and project files you get when you buy their software.
Make a habit of looking at the pixel sizes of the photos you’re dragging in, and not wasting time on too small, low quality, picture.
The software reads the colors as a height map (research .bpm for example), like those push pin toys you push on and it copies the object (I’m by no means a wizard at this).
Basicly the whitest color is the highest point you specify for Z height, and the blackest color will be the lowest point, unless you invert your Z.
I’ve found searching with the term grayscale will bring up some very usable photos.
As far as copyright status, and laws, you should do your own research, there as well.
A lot of art is available to freely use and share, while others are not.
Unless you know otherwise, or make the art yourself, you should probably assume it’s not for resale, and probably belongs to someone somewhere.
These next pictures were donated by the maker, so I will use them as grayscale examples:

Hopefully this helps your research, and here is a good link showing some pics made with some free Vector creating software ( Good for newbies :slight_smile: Though the 90 degree V bit part is wrong.

Also, check out photo to sketch apps for turning photos into a sketched photo for vector tracing.
These vectors can simply be followed with a v bit.
It’s a lot of fun :slight_smile:

(Gaylon Raney) #8

Thanks for all the helpfull info I’ll look into the thread you sent a little more cause that joker pic came out great man!
So as far as the 3d relief I was wondering how the machine read to what height was needed so thanks for that! As far as the software I was under the impression when I spoke to a carbide employee on the phone that mesh cam was made for that purpose and was all that was needed. Is that not correct? Like you said there’s a lot of different software’s and I want to find the best 1 that will do all that I need and stick with just that 1 to learn. Also don’t want to be buying 2 for doing 1 thing. So thanks agian for your help and any info wether mesh cam will do this or not would be great!

(Tchad Rogers) #9

The free, open-source, cross-platform program InkScape (similar to Adobe Illustrator) also has a trace function in it that works quite well to convert raster images to vector images. You can then export the result to SVG and import it into Carbide Create.

I’ve been using it with a lot of success. It takes a little trial and error to get the settings right, and the resulting vectors generally have way too many points (use the simplify option after tracing), but it works extremely well for me.

(William Adams) #10

If you want to do 3D work, MeshCAM is a great investment.

The two machines are wonderfully complementary — I do small metal bits on my Nomad for larger projects which are cut on my Shapeoko, and make replacement wasteboards and fixtures for the Nomad using my Shapeoko.

(Gaylon Raney) #11

@tchad thanks I’ve heard some good things about inkscape so I’ll for sure be giving it a look!

@WillAdams but you dont need the nomad right? Anything the nomad can do…as long as u have mesh cam the SO3 XXL can do the same or better?

Just can’t wait till tomorrow I hope it gets here tomorrow so I can start playing with it!

(William Adams) #12

Pretty much, the Shapeoko can do the same things the Nomad does — mostly I use the Nomad 'cause it’s more convenient, quieter, and has nifty workholding options which I haven’t yet replicated on my Shapeoko. — best argument for this is @RichCournoyer’s stainless steel watch case:

(Tchad Rogers) #13

I second @WillAdams’s recommendation for MeshCAM for 3D work (I only have a Shapeoko 3, and MeshCAM works great for it.)

I have both VCarve and MeshCAM, and use them for different things. MeshCAM is great if you have an existing 3D file and just want to cut it with minimal fuss. It has basically no options to edit your 3D file though, so your workflow needs a different 3D editing program before you get to MeshCAM.

VCarve has a great 2D / 2.5D workflow that is AWESOME for creative projects, and has tons of editing capabilities in 2D / 2.5D. It will also let you combine 2D / 2.5D designs with 3D designs and edit a lot of it in the program. Like MeshCAM, it won’t let you edit the 3D mesh in the program though (you have to upgrade to the much more expensive Aspire to be able to do that).

If I was going to buy just one of the two programs, I’d probably get VCarve, but I do more in 2.5D than in 3D. If my usage was more 3D, then I’d swap my recommendation.

(Matt Freivald) #14

I’m not the ‘busiest’ of CNC hobbyists, but I haven’t really used Meshcam since I got VCarve Pro. The latter produces very respectable 3D toolpaths, and does so much more. Meshcam isn’t design software, it just produces toolpaths from preexisting models.

And the collection of 2D/3D clipart, etc that comes with VCarve can get you making really cool stuff right away, it totally redefines “quick and dirty”. I designed this project from scratch in about fifteen minutes using only what came with the Vectric software:

It is like using PowerPoint to slap together a professional-looking presentation in a few minutes; but then you generate toolpaths, run the job, and get an object.

One thing Meshcam does better is defining machining/keepout regions, and (though I guess the newest version of VCarve does this) two-sided machining. Meshcam is great software but it basically does one thing only: generate toolpaths from a preexisting design.

Meshcam is “free” with Nomad but not with Shapeoko. I owned my Nomad for about a year before I bought my Shapeoko XXL. If a job is small enough for Nomad and accuracy is important at all I’ll usually use Nomad: it is just so much less “fussy” than Shapeoko, even if you could technically tweak the latter to do the same job faster (more powerful spindle) with almost the same accuracy. I’ve easily spent as much time fiddling with the Shapeoko as I have making projects; while Nomad pretty much just works. But the XXL is a monster!

They are all pretty amazing tools for the price. It just depends on exactly what you are trying to accomplish.

(Gaylon Raney) #15

Thanks guys for all the info…I’ve ordered some bits and got a email on Monday saying XXL was on back order waiting for steel. Got email today that it shipped out today and expected to arrive Friday so Super excited about that! Can’t wait!

Been looking at different software’s I really like the vcarve just not sure how much difference between desktop and pro version…if not much I’m gonna go with desktop. Would love Aspire but my gosh thats expensive lol maybe 1 day!

Also 1 last question this probably complete stupid one but here it goes. What exactly is different between 2d 2.5 and 3d? …I looked it up on youtube but no1 really explains well! Thanks everyone

(Matt Freivald) #16

The main limitation of VCarve Desktop is the size of the job, IIRC. I’m pretty sure - but do double check - that you need Pro to use the full workspace of the XXL.

(Gaylon Raney) #17

Oh yea I think your right about that. I do think I remember seeing I think only 24x24 work area in desktop…so yea thats not gonna work lol

(Patrick Andersen) #18

GaylonR get Desktop, you can upgrade later if necessary for the cost difference. IMHO Vectric Vcarve is the greatest thing since sliced bread!

(Gaylon Raney) #19

Ok I was wondering that if you could just pay difference to get the pro…not have to pay all over again…thanks @patonclover! In the desktop version do they have dimension tool like Aspire?

(Patrick Andersen) #20

Unsure about how it works in Aspire but in Desktop there certainly is a dimension tool. There is also a measurement tool that is just momentary in action, it only temporarily records the measurement. The Dimension tool works as one would expect a 2D CAD package to work. Why not download a trial copy and take it for a spin.