The Joy of Laser Cutting is a project by Alda Escareño. 

This work is licensed under a 

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Animal Crackers

Animal Crackers are small sweet biscuits that come in the shape of different animals. Despite their sweet flavour, they are not cookies because they are made using a layered process used in the making of crackers.

Animal Crackers have been around since the 19th century and over the years have inspired such household staples as Goldfish and Teddy Grahams. While later versions of Animal Crackers feature details of the animal shape pressed into the surface of the cracker, early versions were cut in a much more rudimentary way that did not allow for any additional details.

In making of these Animal Crackers we will go through the steps of setting up a file for laser cutting. We will also look at how you can transform a jpg silhouette into a vector form.

Ingredients

• 1/8” baltic birch plywood measuring approximately 10 x 10”

Tools

• 100 grit sand paper, a sanding sponge or nail files

Files
Directions

1. Download and open an animal_crackers file.

Measure the material you are working with and adjust your art board to match. Review how to adjust your art board here.

2. You’ll see that in the animal_crackers file there are 4 animals outlined in red and one animal filled in black. The animals that are outlined, are editable vector shapes. When clicked on, the outlines show edit points that can be moved or deleted. 

Laser cutters interpret vector lines and shapes as a series of tasks, based on their colour and fill. In order to have all these animal shapes cut out we need to make sure they are vectors.

Read more about vector shapes here.

The black bear in this file has not yet been transformed into a vector. It is a Jpeg that has been pasted on the artboard.

In order to turn it into a vector, select the black bear. When you do, you'll see that an Image Trace button will appear on the upper menu. Click on it.

3. The Image Trace function changes the bear into an editable flat shape. The last step is to click on the Expand button that has appeared, this will change the bear into a vector shape like the other animals on the artboard.

4. Once a vector, we want to give all the animals .01pt RGB red outline and no fill. This thickness and colour of line will be interpreted by a laser cutter as a cut line. Review how to adjust line colours here.

5. Practice using image trace with some animal shapes of your own. Keep in mid that this technique works best with simple silhouette shapes. A more detailed image will require some clean-up.

6. Arrange your animals within your artboard making sure to leave at least .125" between shapes. If you are sending this file out to be cut to a service centre, be sure to review the specific file set-up guidelines that they may require. Here are a couple of places where you can send your files to be cut.

NOT SANDED

SANDED

Going Further

7. Once cut, use some fine sandpaper or a sanding sponge to clean up any burn marks on the surfaces and to soften the edges of the crackers.