'Appearances' can be deceiving

If you’re having problems trying to get a file to upload to Ponoko, it might be worth looking to see if you have any ‘appearances’ applied to your design. ‘Appearances’ are just that - they’re elements in a design that give the appearance of being something, but their true vector value is something quite different.

A good example of an ‘appearance’ is the dashed line effect - this can be generated in both Inkscape and Illustrator, but is only a visual effect, as it doesn't actually change the raw vector information that is read by the laser cutter.

A quick way to see what the laser will ‘actually’ cut, is to switch your file to Outline Mode. This way you will see the raw vector data that the laser will read.

There are a few ways to find and remove appearances, which I’ve listed below:

Our laser cutter uses Illustrator to read files, so if you’re using Inkscape to create your design, everything in your design MUST have 100% opacity - or be set to Alpha/A: 255 in the Object > Fill and stroke panel. If you don’t follow these settings, your file will come through as a black fill with an "appearance" of Opacity 0% when opened in Illustrator.




1. Double-check that all of your fills are set to 100% opacity - any figure less than 100% can trigger problems during the uploading process.

2. If you ‘select all’, and 'Expand Appearance' is a clickable option in the Object menu, then it means there are appearances applied to objects in your design - something that is not good for laser cut designs. Use the 'Expand Appearance' command and you'll see the true vector information.

3. Make sure you didn’t use an ‘appearance’ when you created your design, such as the calligraphic brush, or pencil. You can usually spot these brushes in the control panel:



Calligraphic and pencil brushes only provide the ‘appearance’ of a stroke - you'll need to 'select all' and choose ‘remove brush stroke’, as per the image below:


4. If you can’t spot any ‘appearances’ straight away, check ALL the ‘layers’ in your file. In the file below you can see some gray dots, which indicate that appearances have been applied to parts of the design:


You can select these elements and outright delete them, but it is also possible to remove the appearance, but keep the design, by dragging the gray dot to the little rubbish bin icon in the ‘layers’ panel, as in the image below:


It is worth bearing in mind that even a single instance of an appearance in your design, no matter how small, can prevent your file from uploading into your Personal Factory.

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