CNC Sign Projects – Sign Layout With Vectric Aspire

Written By: Bill Griggs - Aug• 29•12


This time we will discuss how to create the rest of the CNC Sign layout using Vectric Aspire. In part 4 of the CNC Sign Projects series we talked about creating Photo realistic Vcarvings using Vectric PhotoVCarve.


Vectric Aspire is the flagship of the Vectric line of products. Aspire will allow you to create many types of 3D OBJECTS, VCARVING, photo  VCarving and more. For this project we don’t actually need all the power of Aspire. All the things we are about to do can also be done using Vectric VCarve Pro. VCrave pro is a less expensive version of Aspire without the 3D functionality. I did not use VCarve pro simply because I have Aspire. Fortunately, the user interface is nearly identical so all the examples-will  work in  either program.


Defining the work piece

Open the Aspire program and select Create a New File icon.

The first step we took involved defining the work piece size. I simply entered the measurements of the actual piece of material we used. In this case I was using a piece of oak that measured 24″x13.625″x.875″.  I  entered  these measurements into the appropriate boxes on the screen. I then selected the Z zero location as the top of the work piece. and the origin point at the lower left hand corner of the material. The reason I select this location is so that all X and Y axis movements will be in a positive direction. It’s just easier for me to think that way. Any cuts made by the Z axis will be in a negative direction below the surface of the work piece.


Job Setup

Enter material dimensions and origin.


Once I have defined the workpiece, I set up some construction guide lines to help aid me in placement of the design elements. To do this you drag the mouse pointer down from the top ruler bar onto the work piece. A dashed line will appear. You can either drag the dotted line to the measurements shown as a pop up or you can right click and select a distance from the menu. You can also drag a ruler center line from the left ruler bar.

Construction centerlines

Use Construction center lines to help with sign layout.



Next we created the vector border to contain the artwork. The work piece is a rectangle and Ashlee wanted  a rectangular sign  with some rounding. As the sign layout developed we decided to  use a circular shape to surround the  cow head image.  I used the vector layout tools to create a rectangle and placed a Circle on top of it as shown.


Create Vectors

Drag a Rectangle followed by a circle.


I used the Scissor tool to trim away the parts of the Vectors that I didn’t want in the design. The Scissor tool will weld the vector end points back together for you or you can also choose for the endpoints to remain un-joined.

Trimmed border

Use the Scissor tool to trim the Vectors.


I decided to round the corners of the rectangle to make the design look smoother. Vectric Aspire has a fillet tool designed to do this and more.


Use the fillet tool to create simple 1″ diameter fillets.


Importing the Photo VCarve ToolPath

Now that the workpiece is defined we can uset the PhotoVCarve toolpath we created in PhotoVCarve last time and import it into Vectric Aspire. Click on FILE, Import, Import PhotoVCarve or Cut3d Toolpath.Select the file you created earlier. The photo image you created will load into the preview window of Aspire. When you import a toolpath from PhotoVCarve you are only allowed to move it, resize it or mirror it. To move the toolpath around, just  double click it and the move it, or re-size it as needed.   Since we already made a rough sketch of the design we know where the design elements will be on the sign. We can just move the toolpath till it suits our needs. Once you are satisfied with the location of the toolpath, right click it and select move to layer, create new layer.Name the new layer Cow. Putting the toolpath on a separate layer allows us to make changes to the rest of the design without changing the toolpath. I use layers quite a bit in Aspire, you should to.


CNC Sign Project - Import

Import the PhotoVCarve toolpath into Aspire.


Creating the Text.


Next I created a VCarve too path for the text of the sign. I created this by clicking the Text icon on the menu as shown. I typed in the text I wanted to use and selected the font and size. Narrow fonts do not cut deeply, Wide spaced fonts do cut deeply. You can also control the depth of the cut by specifying a flat on the bottom of the letters. This will limit the cutting depth but wont give you a sharp center line in the letters. Once you have created the letters, right click on them and create a new layer for the Text and move the letters to that layer.


enter text

Use the Text tool to add the text


Preview of the V-Carved Text.

Preview of the V-Carved Text.


In the next post we will create the final tool paths for the CNC Sign Project and save them to a thumb drive.. I hope you have been enjoying this tutorial series as much I have enjoyed putting it together. It is hard to find accurate information about this process so I hope this will be a good starting point. If you have any questions or ideas on topics you would like to see me cover please leave a comment below. Especially, let me know if you find this sort of information helpful and useful.

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