How to make place cards laser cut files in Adobe Illustrator

Making your own place card decor with custom names is fairly simple. These are great to sell or make nice party gifts. Let’s take a look at how to design these in Adobe Illustrator. We will be making 12 inch designs for 10 inch plates.

Step 1: Make a 10 inch circle to represent the dinner plate

This step will help us understand how large our design needs to be to fit the intended application. In our case it is a 10 inch dinner plate. 

Select the ellipse tool (keyboard shortcut “l”)

Left click on the artboard, DO NOT DRAG. If you drag you will not get the prompt for the dimensions. Enter the dimensions for your plate or other decor. We will be using 10” x 10”.

Select the alignment tool

Set alignment to Artboard (if you don’t see this option make sure “show options” is selected)

Select Horizontal Align Center and Vertical Align Center

Select the layers panel, lock the layer, and add a new layer. This will prevent the circle from moving while we work on the text.

Step 2: Create the Text

Select the type tool (keyboard shortcut “t”)

Left Click on the artboard and type whatever you want. Hit Esc when you are done.

Select the character panel Window -> Type -> Character (keyboard shortcut Command/Ctrl “T”)

Select your typeface. We will be using a typeface with Glyphs which are unique design elements embedded into the typeface. Not all fonts come with glyphs. This font is called Marquella Script. I got mine on Creative Fabrica -> here’s the link.

Double click, left click, and drag to highlight the first letter. Glyphs are shown below or you can hit the arrow to expand to the glyph window and see more.

Select the glyph you want to use or skip this step if you don’t want to add this design element. 

Repeat for the last letter in the word

Step 3: Resize the font 

Use the selection tool to select the type (keyboard shortcut “v”)

Left click on the corner and hold shift to lock the proportions

Optional –  It is sometimes important to add some thickness to the font so the laser cut won’t break. This depends on what font you use but for this font I like to add a few strokes. My outline color was white so I selected the line color swatch and used the eye dropper tool (keyboard shortcut “i”) to change it to black by holding down shift and clicking on the font.

Step 4: Turn font into outlines

Select the font and go to Object -> Expand Appearance 

Now Expand the object by going to Object -> Expand

Repeat Expand if you added an outline to the font

With the font still selected open pathfinder under Window -> Pathfinder

Select Unite in the pathfinder window. This creates 1 nice outline for the laser cutter to follow.

At this point I would copy the design to a new document to save in whatever format your laser cutter requires. 

That’s it! Save your file and get cutting! Hope this helps.

Design on my friends,


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