LightBurn Tutorial 02 – User Interface Walkthrough

The Lightburn Software Series

The Lightburn Software is probably the best generic laser cutting software available (I use it for almost all of my laser work). This LightBurn Tutorial series has hints and tips as well as the occasional speed comparisons between it and RDWorks. My thanks to the team at Lightburn for allowing me to embed their videos.


A brief overview of the various editing tools in LightBurn

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LightBurn Tutorial - UI Walkthrough
LightBurn Tutorial – UI Walkthrough

Video Transcript for LightBurn Tutorial – User Interface Walkthrough

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0:00 in this video we’re going to do a quick

0:03 walkthrough of some of the basic

0:04 features of light burn so what you’re

0:08 looking at is the default layout of

0:10 light burns interface I have already

0:1 3gone through the device setup if you

0: 15haven’t done that you should so what you

0: 20see here are the toolbars with the

0: 21various options that you get for drawing

0:24and arranging your shapes light burn has

0:27all of these items that you see here

0:30also listed in the menus and if you look

0:35at the items in the menus they have all

0:37of their hotkeys listed so if you like

0:40me like hotkeys these are handy

0:44the basics are created in file open an

0:49existing file save the file you have

0:51import import takes graphics from an

0:54external vector file like an adobe

0:57illustrator file or a PDF file spgs or

1:00DXF you’ll probably be using this button

1:04more than just about anything you can

1:06also use drag and drop so for example I

1:09can use the import button to bring in

1:12one of my graphics I can also just grab

1:15it from my file explorer or finder and

1:19wherever you drop it in library is where

1:22the graphic goes undo and redo are here

1:27if you look in the menu you can see what

1:29the last action I performed was if I

1:34draw I can see I created an ellipse if I

1:38undo that now the last action is import

1:41the light burn dragon so you can tell

1:43what it is that you need to throw what

1:45you’re undoing and redoing cut copy and

1:49paste and delete are pretty

1:50straightforward and they work very

1:51similar to other tools if I copy and

1:55then move my cursor and paste wherever

1:59the cursor happens to be is where the

Video Transcript for LightBurn Tutorial – User Interface Walkthrough (Cont…)

2:00paste goes if you use the copy and paste

2:04buttons on the toolbar or menu items

2:07your paste lands with an offset from the

2:11original it doesn’t go where the cursor

2:12is the cursor is not on the page but it

2:15shifts it slightly to one side so you

2:17can see it if you don’t want that to

2:20happen you can use the duplicate option

2:23duplicate creates an exact copy of

2:25something in place so if I select the

2:28dragon again hit control D to duplicate

2:30you can see that my new copy is exactly

2:33on top of the old one

2:36delete destroy it throws away your

2:40graphic obviously I can undo it redo to

2:42get everything back the backspace key or

2:45delete key will also do that zoom and

2:49frame are useful if I click them here

2:53they zoom relative to the center of the

2:56page you can also use your mouse scroll

2:58wheel to zoom in relative to where the

3:01cursor is if I draw a shape over here I

3:05can zoom in relative to that shape by

3:08just pointing at it ditto for down here

3:11so that’s useful for navigation as well

3:13if you hold the middle mouse button you

3:16can drag the view and pan around

3:20Blackburn also has a frame key which

3:24will allow you to frame whatever your

3:26current project is or whatever your

3:28current selection is so if I select this

3:31graphic here and say frame brings it to

3:35fill the window if I don’t select

3:38anything and I say frame if frames the

3:41entirety of my document so those are

3:44useful navigation tools in preview will

3:50show you a preview of what your current

3:52cut looks like so it basically just lets

3:56you walk through what your laser is

3:58going to do you can also show traversal

3:59moves I think that’s on by default in

Video Transcript for LightBurn Tutorial – User Interface Walkthrough (Cont…)

4:01fact so I can see here the laser came in

4:05from the origin starts drawing the eye

4:08then does the out the outline shape when

4:11that’s finished it goes over it does it

4:12circle the preview is adaptive so if I

4:17move these two things closer together

4:18and bring it up again in preview just

4:20starts with those shapes filled you can


4:23zoom in and out pan around at the

4:25preview like you can in the regular edit

4:28window and if you double click the

4:29preview it resets these shaped or pardon

4:38me these tools up here allow you to do

4:40things like mirror and arrange that’s

4:42like an vertical mirror horizontal

4:45mirror if you have more than one thing

4:48chosen for example if I wanted to

4:51perfectly Center the light burn dragon

4:53in this circle or move the circle around

4:56the light for a dragon I can align the

5:01Centers of the selected objects

5:03horizontally or vertically you can also

5:06do things like align the left or right

5:08edges top and bottom edges so these are

5:13really useful for placement making sure

5:15that things line up properly and then

5:17the make same width and make same height

5:18tools allow you to stretch shapes to

5:23match so if I line up the middles and

5:25say I want to make these two things the

5:27same width I can perfectly fill this

5:31this is useful for text for example if I

5:35use my text tool and type light burn and

5:39I wanted to make sure that that was

5:41perfectly the same width as my shape

5:44click it and you can see that it now

5:47matches that messes with the aspect

5:50ratio if you want that not to happen if

5:53you hold shift while you make the same


5:55it actually makes them the same way that

5:57locks the aspect in place and so that’s

Video Transcript for LightBurn Tutorial – User Interface Walkthrough (Cont…)

6:00also useful in general a lot of the

6:05hotkey modifiers you won’t see I sort of

6:08like holding ctrl or shift sometimes do

6:10special things you won’t see those

6:11called out in the menu items but they

6:14are in the health and notes if you go to

6:17hotkeys you’ll see that stuff all listed

6:19here and it’s also in the documentation

6:22which we now have online over here we

6:27have the basic shape creation tools the

6:32pen tool lets you draw lines the lines

6:36will snap

6:37two existing vertices so end objects as

6:41well actually so if you have a need to

6:44draw a line in exactly a particular

6:47location for example if I wanted to

6:50start a line right at the end of this

6:51tip light burn automatically snaps it so

6:54the further resuming you can see that’s

6:56actually really accurate it will auto

6:59snap to vertex is on an existing shape

7:02as well as center points on shapes so if

7:08I need lines to be exact I can place a

7:12couple of circles or squares or

7:14something like that where I want the

7:15line centreline points to go and you can

7:19see as I get to the middle of these

7:21shapes the lines snap so you can use the

7:25existing drawing tools to sort of create

7:27your own guides for things which ends up

7:30being fairly helpful and then when I’m

7:33done and I want to get rid of these you

7:34can just select them and delete like

7:37burn also has two different selection

7:40modes one is what’s called an enclosing

7:43selection so if I draw from top down and

7:46let go of this rectangle only the shapes

7:50contained in that rectangle are selected

7:53if I draw from bottom up and let go the

7:57shapes that cross that selection

7:59rectangle are selected and so that’s

Video Transcript for LightBurn Tutorial – User Interface Walkthrough (Cont…)

8:01useful if you’re trying to grab

8:02something that’s outside of the screen

8:04for example if I was doomed in like this

8:06it’s very difficult for me to draw an

8:09enclosing rectangle around the dragon

8:11but it’s really easy for me to cross

8:12over it and you can also of course use

8:14just straight click to select the

8:18crossing selection and the click

8:21selection also use the shift key to add

8:24items to the selection the control key

8:27to toggle items in the selection and

8:29then a combination of control and shift

8:32is to remove so also over here so

8:40rectangle and ellipse we’ve already seen

8:43those when you’re creating rectangles or

8:46ellipses holding the shift key locks the


8:49so you get a perfect square our perfect

8:51circle holding the control key creates

8:55them from the center out instead of from

8:56the corner so if I click right here in

9:00the middle of the light burn dragon and

9:02I wanted to put a circle around it

9:04holding the control key lets me drag the

9:08circle from center out instead of from

9:09one of the corners this is the node

9:17editing tool so if you have a shape

9:20selected and you go into node editing

9:23mode you can move the vertices of the

9:25shape around you can also convert the

9:29shape from hard lines like this to

9:33smooth lines by hitting s over a

9:35highlighted point that creates tangent

9:38handles at that vertex and lets you

9:41manipulate those and then we have the

9:46text tool which again you’ve already

9:48seen but you can click existing texts

9:52and edit it you can also modify things

9:56like the font on the fly so as I scroll

Video Transcript for LightBurn Tutorial – User Interface Walkthrough (Cont…)

10:00through or bring up the font selection

10:02box you can see that the text changes in

10:07real time and modifications of size and

10:11someone do the same thing so it’s useful

10:13you can just click here and edit as well

10:19as changing where the text is aligned so

10:21I want it to be from where I selected a

10:24line on the left edge where I selected

10:26aligned on the right edge or centered

10:28which is the default also over here we

10:32have the click to locate laser tool this

10:37is when you have a laser connected

10:40basically you select this tool and

10:42clicking anywhere on the page will jog

10:44the laser to that location which is

10:47useful if you’re trying to line up a cut

10:49and then we have the offsetting tool

10:51which is one of my personal favorites

10:53you clean this up a little bit offset is

10:57really cool for doing

11:01so if I wanted to wrap this in something

11:05like an outline click offset and as I

11:10increase the offset distance will see

11:12that the offset shape is basically just

11:15a shape that is some distance from my

11:18selection later on we’ll generate new

11:22graphics after the exact distance from

11:25your original source shapes and you can

11:27also use the mouse wheel to just create

11:29that and or move it dynamically when you

11:34have something you like it okay the

11:37resulting shape is grouped automatically

11:41so if I go back to there if I do a

11:45smaller one here you can see I’m getting

11:52some inside shape now inside the dragon

11:55and here inside this lettering if I make

11:57it just a little bit bigger that little

Video Transcript for LightBurn Tutorial – User Interface Walkthrough (Cont…)

12:00bit inside the dragon I probably don’t

12:03want that will be part of this shape as

12:08a group if I ungroup the shape by

12:11clicking here or using the ungroup uh

12:13key now I can delete those straggly bits


12:24that’s most of the creation tools and

12:28alignment tools you also have the sizing

12:34tools here so I can size and move by

12:37numeric controls for example so if I

12:39wanted to make sure that the center of

12:41this text was exactly aligned with the

12:43center of the dragon you can see that

12:46the like dragon is at 350 the text isn’t

12:49if I type in 3 5 0 the text lines up

12:56perfectly this is your preview you’ve

13:00already seen that this will give you an

13:04exact walkthrough of the cut that light

13:09burns going to send to the laser so it’s

13:11a good way to figure out if everything

13:13be cutting the order that you want it to

13:15and figure out whether it’s doing an

13:19optimal job or not

13:21over here in the laser panel there’s an

13:24optimization settings button and the

13:26optimize cut path button if I turn off

13:29optimization and I preview light burn

13:34will draw things in whatever order you

13:36created them in and that’s not

13:38necessarily the order that you want so

13:40for example if you look at this G it’s

13:44drawing the outline and then drawing the

13:47inside shapes generally that’s

13:49inadvisable what will often happen is if

13:52you cut out a letter and then you cut

13:54the holes in the letter the letter will

13:56shift a little bit as it’s released from

13:58the material so you usually want to cut

Video Transcript for LightBurn Tutorial – User Interface Walkthrough (Cont…)

14:00inside shapes first that’s one of the

14:04options here so cut inner shapes first

14:06cutting layer order reduce travel moves

14:08all of these options we can change and

14:10the preview will reflect those changes

14:12so I’ve turned on the cut-in inside of

14:17order and so now you can see it cuts

14:21middle pieces of the G followed by the

14:24outline and it’ll do the same thing over

14:27here for the B and so on optimization

14:33settings are a really good way to reduce

14:35the time it takes to do a cut if I turn

14:39off all optimizations and bring up the

14:41preview you can see like for any

14:42estimates how long that job is going to

14:44take and how much distance it moved so

14:47in this case 971 millimeters worth of

14:50rapid moves which isn’t bad but if I had

14:54a more complicated scene get rid of this

15:00way to shrink this down it’s also worth

15:06noting this lock is the aspect lock so

15:10whenever I change width or height here

15:15either as a measurement or a percentage

15:18with that lock button clicked or

15:21selected it will lock the aspect ratio

15:24so I wanted to make

15:26125 percent of its size it grows in both

15:31directions if I disable the lock and

15:34shrink it you can see now the aspect

15:37ratio wasn’t preserved so this is a

15:39useful tool as well with this if I leave

15:47my optimization settings off and draw my

15:53cut plan you can see that there’s lots

15:56and lots and lots and lots of red

15:59that’s the rapid moves moving from one

Video Transcript for LightBurn Tutorial – User Interface Walkthrough (Cont…)

16:01shape to another in fact it’s actually

16:04doing more rapid movement that it is

16:06cutting which is pretty terrible if I go

16:10to optimization settings and say enter

16:12shapes first and reduce travel moves

16:15that’s the big one bringing up the

16:18preview now shows that now there’s

16:21significantly less rapid movement than

16:24there is cut movement and if you scrub

16:28through the preview you can see that

16:32it’s generally moving from shape to

16:35shape that are close to each other this

16:37does a really good job of speeding up

16:40your cut making the overall cut time

16:41lower and it will still do the proper

16:46inside outside shape planning and so on

16:50and so on you can turn all of these on

16:54for the most part there is not really a

16:56reason to leave them off cutting layer

16:58order is kind of a special one if I have

17:01things that I want to make sure are

17:03going to cut blast or cut first I can

17:06select those specific things so for

17:09example if I wanted to make sure that

17:10this shape and this shape were the last

17:14things to cut I can just put them on

17:17their own cut layer and set cut in layer

17:21order and now if I bring up the preview

17:25you can see that those things are the

17:28last things to cut and so right there

17:31and it’ll cut everything else first

17:33these options are very common if you’re

17:36used to Rd works or

17:38other laser software most of this stuff

17:41is probably familiar if you never use

17:44laser software before the stuff is

17:46probably not familiar this is all listed

17:49in the documentation as well so be sure

17:52to go through that that’s it for now

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Last updated April 25, 2024


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