Pixabay is well-known for its wide selection of free art vectors and images. But do these art vectors work well with CNC designs?

Using Vector Art With Your CNC Design

First off, a definition of what exactly vector artwork is from Adobe.

What is Vector Art?

-Adobe-

Vector artwork is art made from vector graphics. These graphics are points, lines, curves, and shapes combined with mathematical formulas. When you scale a vector image file, it isn't a low resolution, and there's no loss of quality, so it can be sized to however large or small you need it to be. It's an excellent tool for putting company logos on business cards, creating poster designs, and when photoshopping in Adobe Photoshop. Any art made with vector illustration software like Adobe Illustrator is considered vector art.

In comparison, you create raster art (also referred to as bitmaps or raster images) using colorized pixels. When you enlarge a raster file with pixel-based art too much, the edges look jagged, and the quality is lost. The resolution-independent vector art displays allow its use in various forms, from small illustrations to massive billboards. 

So vector art combines points, lines, curves, and shapes with mathematical formulas. That is why CNC machines work so well with Vectors.

However, vector graphics allow designers to build high-quality works of art with clean lines and shapes and scale them to any size. Therefore, CNC Machines are just some of the uses for free art vectors.

Bad Examples of Vector Art Usage with CNC Designs

A Farmer Man and Woman Scene Vector Artwork

An excellent example of vector artwork is the following scene below of a man and woman farmer.

Man and Woman Farmer Free Art Vectors Scene

I can easily download the SVG formatted file for these vectors.

SVG Format File Download

Then I create a new file in Vectric Aspire and import these vectors. But then, wow, there are a LOT of vectors!

From a designer's point of view, every different color fill requires new vectors. So with vector artwork, you're dealing with more than just the shapes but also the colors.

Could you clean up these vectors and expose only the shapes? Sure. But it would take some time, depending on the design.

Ideally, downloading vectors with the shapes in one layer and the color vectors in a separate layer would be perfect. Then you could turn off the color vectors. But that's not available on Pixabay.

Man and Woman Farmer Free Art Vectors Scene

How would this design turn out on a CNC machine? First, I tried the V-Carve with a 60-degree v-bit and a profile tool path using a 45-degree v-bit with a fixed depth.

Man and Woman Farmer Scene with VCarve Toolpath

Man and Woman Farmer Scene with V-Carve Toolpath

Man and Woman Farmer Scene with Profile Toolpath

Man and Woman Farmer Scene with Profile Toolpath

A Beach Free Art Vectors Scene

I next downloaded a vector artwork beach scene. This scene was a little less complicated but still had some different colors.

A Beach Free Art Vectors Scene

I created a new file in Vectric Aspire and imported the vector file. The scene was not quite as intimidating as the previous farmers' design.

A Beach Free Art Vectors Scene

I then tested the tool path simulator for both a V-Carve and a Profile tool path using a v-bit with a fixed depth. These look better, but both will require some node editing to look just right.

A Vector Art Beach Scene using a VCarve Toolpath

A Vector Art Beach Scene using a V-Carve Toolpath

A Vector Art Beach Scene using a Profile Toolpath

A Vector Art Beach Scene using a Profile Toolpath

Good Examples of Vector Art Usage with CNC Designs

One way to get vector art to work well with your CNC machine is to keep the designs simple. However, as I review below, even simple only sometimes works, but at least it gives you other options.

A Trophy Free Art Vector Object

An example of a simple vector artwork is this Trophy Cup Decorative Object. You can resize this trophy design easily to have multiple objects like this. You can even V-Carve words on the face of these objects.

Trophy Cup Decorative-Vector Object

Viewing the vector design in Vectric Aspire, they are mostly clean.

Trophy Cup Decorative Free Art Vector

I created a simple V-Carve tool path using a 60-degree v-bit with a .125-inch clearance tool. I ran this tool path using the software simulator, and the result looked excellent.

Trophy Cup Decorative Toolpath Simulator Result
Trophy Cup Decorative Toolpath Simulator Result Angled

A Map of the United States of America Vector Artwork

The final free art vector I downloaded was a United States of America map. This map had all of the individual states outlined.

United States of America Vector Artwork

I created a new file in Vectric Aspire and then imported the design vectors. Finally, I centered the design and resized it to fix the material.

United States of America Free Art Vectors

However, the Vectric Vector Validator found many problems with the vectors. For example, there were 268 overlaps and 733 intersections found.

United States of America  Vector Validator

The first tool path was a V-Carve tool path with a 60-degree v-bit. The second was a profile tool path using a 45-degree v-bit with a fixed depth.

Running both tool paths in the simulator software, both looked terrible.

United States of America  VCarve Toolpath

United States of America V-Carve Toolpath

United States of America  Profile Toolpath

United States of America Profile Toolpath

Since so many vectors need repair, a better option in this scenario is to create your own vectors. This task is easy since the design is simple and the color is mainly black.

It requires downloading a PNG format version of the design. Then using Vectric Aspire, import the PNG file as an image bitmap. This image can be centered on the material and resized to fit.

The next step is to create our vectors using the Trace Bitmap function in Vectric. I selected the darkest black color for the vector creation. The software displays all of the vectors it will create as blue.

Vectric Trace Bitmap function

After clicking the Preview button, the software shows you the vectors it will create. 

Vectric Trace Bitmap Function New Vectors

I clicked the Apply button and the Close button, and the software created the new vectors.

Vectric Trace Bitmap New Vectors

The last step is to create a new V-Carve tool path using these selected vectors. Again, I used only the 60-degree v-bit, and the result excelled.

This Trace Bitmap function is an excellent example of how it can be easier to create new vectors instead of trying to fix the old ones.

USA Map Free Art Vectors VCarve Simulator Result

VCarve Pro Download Files

Reminder

You must verify all tool path settings, especially the bit settings, to ensure they are compatible with your CNC machine. Every CNC machine operates differently!

V-bit Tool settings

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