Carving Open Vectors – Part 40 – Vectric For Absolute Beginners

Hey y’all! In this video we’re going to take a step way back into the basics… …and discuss open vectors versus closed vectors. And how you can do a simple form of V-carving with open vectors. Easily, the thing I get requested of me the most is for help with a file… …where the person is trying to close vectors… …and the file is just a jumbled mess of open vectors. In a lot of instances, those vectors don’t need to be closed… …depending upon what the person is trying to do. Before we even get into that… …let me just say that over here in the Toolpaths tab… …if you’re using a V-carve Toolpath… …a Pocket Toolpath… …or a Drilling Toolpath, you will need closed vectors. But having said that… …you don’t necessarily need closed vectors to carve with a V-bit. You can use a Profile Toolpath or a Quick Engraving Toolpath. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on the Quick Engraving Toolpath in this video. I’m going to concentrate on the Profile Toolpath. So let’s go back over here and import some vectors and I’ll show you what I’m talking about. There is a style of art that’s gained in popularity over the last couple of years… …and that is patent illustration art and blueprint art. Now, forewarned is forearmed. Just by the very nature of the fact that it’s a patent illustration… …it is very difficult to find patent art in blueprint arts that’s in the public domain… …and that’s available for commercial use. It’s difficult, but it’s not necessarily impossible. Just be warned that just because something is old… …it doesn’t mean that it’s in the public domain. Be careful. Some of these patents are still in effect… …and the illustrations are copywritten or trademarked. For this demonstration, I’m going to use a piece of blueprint-styled art that is in the public domain… …from And I’ll put a link to this particular drawing down the description box of this video. I’ve already downloaded this piece of artwork… …and we’re going to go ahead and import it… …and I’m going to show you how I would carve this particular design. The first thing we’ll do is go up here to my FILE menu… …Import Vectors… …navigate to the correct folder… …and there is my picture. A word of caution about SVG files. SVG files are not necessarily vectors. Some are just bitmap images with SVG file extensions. In this particular case, I have already checked this out and this is a vector drawing. Just know that some SVG files are not vectors. It may be a bitmap and you will have to do a bitmap trace. Let’s go ahead and import this particular drawing… …and there we go. I’ll go ahead and drag it up here close to the middle of the material… …and when I click off you’ll see that it disappeared. Well, it hasn’t really disappeared. If you zoom in real close you can kind of see it This is something to watch out for. Let me go ahead and select it all, so that we’ve got it highlighted in pink. Just know that in a lot of blueprints, the vectors are drawn in white… …which is why we couldn’t see anything. So, I’ll come up here to my Layer Manager and we see that when I imported the vectors… …it imported them into this new layer and the layer color is white. If I click this icon right here, it opens up the color menu… …I can now select black… …then when I click off, I can see the vectors. With that done, I’m going to go ahead and select all of these vectors… …and I want to center them on my material. So, let’s go ahead and select them all, align them, then I’ll go ahead and close that window. If we look at this artwork, we’ll see that this space up here between the top of this rectangle… …and the top of this rectangle… …is narrower than this space down here. I’m going to leave it this way, because I’m going to enter some text down here. If we get in here and start clicking around, we’ll see that this drawing has a lot of open vectors. Let me back out a little bit… …right-click… …go up to Selection… …Select All Open Vectors… …and oh boy, we have a bunch of them. If we were going to V-carve this design, we would have a lot of cleanup work ahead of us. So, we’re not going to V-carve this design. Instead, we’re going to engrave this design. And there is a subtle but profound difference between V-carving and engraving. Remember; V-carving carves inside the vectors. It carves in between the vectors, here. So you do need a closed vector. So, these lights here would V-carve just fine. The little light and license plate mount on the trunk would V-carve. This sculpture line, here, would not. And this is where a lot of people have problems. They want to be able to close this vector so they can V-carve this… …and it’s just simply not going to happen. You would have to create more layers, and close this vector with maybe this outside rim here… …and you’ll have a duplicate vector here. It’s just a pain. For this style, I prefer not to even attempt to V-carve. I’ll just engrave the outline. Before I get into that however… …the artist who drew this, drew it the way a blueprint should be drawn… …in that there are some overlapping vectors, here. For instance, we have the windshield frame. There’s the bottom of the windshield, here’s the top of the windshield. And you can see the outline of the cockpit through the windshield frame. That just isn’t real life. That wouldn’t happen: you wouldn’t be able to see this outline. So, I’m going to clean up some of these vectors. We’ll start out up here: we’ll come in and we’ll get rid of that vector, there… …and here… I also wouldn’t be able to see the outline of the cockpit through this roll bar… …so we’ll get rid of that, right there. Now I’ve just created more open vectors, but that’s okay. I’m not sure if this is a mirror or a tachometer… …but I do know you wouldn’t be able to see this side of it through the windshield frame… …so I’ll trim that away. I’ll also trim away the outline of the dash, here. You wouldn’t see that through the windshield frame, nor would you see this portion of this hood contour line…. …so we’ll get rid of that. You wouldn’t see the bottom outline of the nose cone through this bumperette… …so we’ll get rid of that. It’s the back here: you wouldn’t see this sculpture line through the bumperette, there. And there are other little things I could do. You wouldn’t see that end of the exhaust pipe through the opening… Let’s take a look; that looks a little better… You wouldn’t see the bottom of the headlight rims behind the nerf bar… …and this rock guard here; you wouldn’t see that through the fender flare. I think we can work with that, so let’s go ahead and CLOSE. Now I’ve created even more open vectors. And if I were going to try to V-carve this it would be even more of a nightmare. So, instead I’m going to go ahead and group these vectors… …then we’ll do a Profile toolpath. So, I’ll draw my box from left to right around all of these vectors… …and when I release only those vectors that were inside that box are selected. I’ll group them… …then we’ll go over here and we’ll calculate a Profile toolpath. I’ll select those vectors… I’m going to come over here to my Profile toolpath. One of the differences between using a profile to engrave… …and using a V-carve toolpath is we’ll need to select the depth… …because all of these vectors are going to be carved to the same depth. I’m going to use a fairly small bit on this… …and it has a very sharp point… …so I don’t need it to cut very deep. In fact I’m only going carve this… 0.050 – so not quite 1/16 of an inch deep. So, we’ll go 0.05… …and I’m going to select a 30-degree V
bit… …and here’s the important part. I want to make sure to machine ON the vector. I’m not going to do anything else down here… …but let’s name it… …get rid of the number, and we’ll call this the Car Profile… We’ll calculate that toolpath. I’m going to make my toolpath color black so you can see it. I’ve chosen a white maple background, here… …and we’ll Preview this toolpath. And we have an engraving of this Cobra… …that looks pretty decent. Because I’m using such a small bit… …if I decide I want these lines to be a bit bolder… …all I need to do is set it to cut a little bit deeper. Again, I’m only cutting 0.050 of an inch deep. Let’s reset the Preview and change that… …let’s see what happens if we cut a full 1/16 of an inch deep. We’ll Recalculate… …then we’ll Preview… …and 1/16 of an inch does work okay… …we have some areas here where it looks like it might be cutting too deep… …we’re getting a pretty thick area here, where these lines meet… …it’s hard to tell what they are… …so I think I’m going go back to 0.50 and leave it there. Recalculate… …back out to a straight Z view… …Preview Selected Toolpaths… …and now it’s not quite the mess it was – some lines are still a little bit closer together than I would like… …but without doing a lot of modifications, I think that’ll do. Another thing to remember is the scale of the project. This is not a huge piece. Let’s go ahead and close this… …and go back over here to my 2D view. Normally, I would not have calculated that toolpath until I had everything ready to go. That was to demonstrate to you that you can carve with a V-bit on open vectors. You do not have to have closed vectors to engrave. This is engraving the outlines. This is not attempting to V-carve to varying depths between vectors. It doesn’t work in every situation. In some situations you will have to go in and close vectors. Let’s see what we have here. We have this rectangle, out here… …which is fine. It kind of frames the drawing, and I think I like that… …so I think I’ll carve that as well. Out here, however, we’ve got this rectangle, which has… …well, they both have round corners… I think what I’ll do on this particular rectangle, however… …is I’m going to open it up a little bit further, down here, to give me a little bit more space. I will center it in my material… …and I’m going to put some text down here in the center. So we’ll zoom in down here… …go up here into my Draw Text tool… …and I’m just going to type Cobra… …CLOSE that… …click it again to go into Move and Transform mode, and bring it down here… …and I’ll center that on my drawing. I’ll hold down SHIFT… …and grab that bottom center square and make that text just a little bit smaller… …just kind of squish it down some… …so that it sits right about there. Now, I do want to V-carve this text. So, I’ll come back over into my Toolpath tab… …select a V-carve toolpath… I’ll go ahead and carve it to a flat depth… …with my 90 degree V-bit, which is my go-to bit for most V carving. I’m going to use a 1/8 inch end mill as a clearance tool… I’ll change the name to V-carve… Oops – I forgot I had Caps Lock on… …V-carve Text… …calculate that toolpath… Okay, it’s telling me here; “The following tools produced empty toolpaths.” The text is too small for the 1/8 inch end mill. Okay, that’s fine. So, basically what that’s telling me is… …this 1/8 inch clearance toolpath… …it’s not going to do anything. If I uncheck that toolpath and leave this one checked, it’s an empty toolpath. It’s not going to do anything. Let me go ahead and Preview to show you nothing happens. So, what do I do in this case? It’s very simple… …right-click… …delete… this… Just delete that clearance toolpath. Now if I go back into the toolpath, you’ll see Use Clearance Tools is empty. We’ll go back into the Preview window… …I’ll set my toolpath color to black… …and we’ll Preview that toolpath. Okay, that looks nice. Now we’ll come back to the 2D view… …close the Preview window… …select these two vectors… …and I just want these to be pinstripes. But if I’m not careful, if I carve too deep, I run the risk of that v-bit… …carving so wide it cuts into the engraving here… …or it cuts into my text up here or down here. I need to be careful about that. So, again, I’ll use a Profile toolpath… I am going to go ahead and cut 0.0625 deep. I will use the 30-degree V bit; I just want it a little bit bolder. Again, I’ll machine ON the vector… …and we’ll come down here, and Profile 3 is good enough for this. Calculate… …and I’ll change to black again… …and we’ll Preview that toolpath. So, we now have a nice pair of pinstripes framing the design… …we have some nice text down here… …and we have, what I think, looks like a
fairly decent piece of blueprint art. I’d hang that on my wall, for sure. But you see the advantage of using a Profile toolpath with a V bit… …to carve on the vector… …rather than attempting to close a bunch of vectors… …and V-carve it. This drawing is not really a candidate for V-carving. You could V-carve some of the details like the tires… …you could V-carve the windshield frame or the roll bar… …but for this type of artwork… …carving ON the open vector… …just my opinion, looks far better than V-carving certain elements of the picture… …and carving the outline of the rest of the picture. My point in all of this is that… …you don’t have to have a closed vector to be able to carve that vector. If you are going to V-carve… …Pocket… …or Drill, you definitely need closed vectors. If you’re not doing one of those three… …they can be done with the Profile toolpath or the Quick Engrave toolpath. Since I brought it up, let me go ahead and demonstrate the Quick Engrave toolpath. We’ll reset our Preview… …go over into the 2D view… …close the Preview window… …and I want to just select the vectors of the car. We’ll go over here to our Quick Engrave toolpath. The main difference between the Quick Engrave toolpath… …and carving the way I did with the Profile toolpath is semantics, really. The Depth/Pressure… That’s the same as the Cutting Depth in the Profile toolpath. I’ve got this set to 0.05, the same as I had the Profile toolpath. You have a choice of outline or a fill. Like straight horizontal lines… …hatching, cross-hatching, etc… Personally, I prefer just an outline. We’re not using a nose cone; that is for specialized engraving equipment. And I will name it Quick Engrave Car… …Calculate that toolpath… …and you’ll see it does create a toolpath – there are all of our start points… …but it doesn’t automatically jump over into the Preview window. In an Engraving toolpath… …there’s not usually much to preview. You may see some light scratches, and that’s about it. But because I’m using a V-bit for this and I’m cutting 0.05 deep… …there is something to preview. You’ll also notice that I can go ahead and save g-code from here without previewing it. Personally, I don’t like to do that. I’ll just CLOSE it… …go into my Preview window… …select the Quick Engrave toolpath… …select the color… …and Preview that toolpath. It looks identical to the Profile toolpath that we used earlier… …because basically it is identical. As I said before, this is a case of semantics. You can use either the Quick Engrave with a V-bit… or you can use a Profile toolpath with a V-bit. The only thing to remember with the Profile toolpath is to cut ON the vector. The Quick Engrave toolpath doesn’t give you a choice. It automatically cuts on the vector. I would then V-carve my text… …then cut these two profiles to give me my frame… …and there’s our finished piece of blueprint art. So, I hope you got something out of this video. If you did, please give me a thumbs up. And if you’d like to follow along with my further CNC adventures… I do hope you’ll subscribe to my channel. Don’t forget that today at 3 p.m. Eastern, Noon Pacific… …I’ll be hosting a Live Q&A session… …where I’ll answer your questions about when you can use open vectors… …when you need to use closed vectors… …or anything else that I’ve covered in this video. Again, that’s 3 p.m. Eastern, Noon Pacific… …today, right here on my YouTube channel. I’ll put a link to that Live Q&A session down in the description of this video. So, I hope to see you this afternoon. And, as always, whether you subscribe to
my channel or not… …I’d like to thank you very much for taking the time to watch… …and y’all take care


The text engraving is for cutting with a drag knife vinyl sheets, light engraving on metals or plotter prints for line art.

The first time I tried cutting some simple open vectors neither the profile nor engraving toolpaths work correctly. When I retried them, they seemed to work as you have demonstrated. Unfortunately, I did not save or record the incorrect ones, but I will keep trying.

See you this afternoon.

Hey Mark , informative video as usual. I discovered this a while back and have used many times for the border. I use to make 2 borders and vcarve that but found using one line was much easier. Thanks for the lesson..

Perfect timing for this. I've was struggling with this on a sign last night and now you just solved my problem. Thank You, Thank You!!!

Sometimes the simplest instruction is the most meaningful. Very well explained. Thanks for taking the time to post all these lessons. You are helping many more of us than you will ever know and we are very grateful. Are you going to San Diego this year?

Mark Thanks for doing this video I have a niece who's Husband has a Cobra That I think he might like one of these plaques. I might be able to paint the out lines of the car in his color Cobra.My question is where did you get the font you used. And did you have to pay for it. I looked and all I found were was it cost $35.00.

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