Friday, August 18, 2017

Designing for Laser Cutting: Photo Engraving

Looking for better results with your laser engraved photos?  Let’s take a close look at how to design for photo engraving. The first consideration is the selection of the photo itself. Because our engraving will not be in color, we want to choose a photo that has high-value and high-contrast. Value and contrast are elements of visual design used by artists

Mountain Range_color.jpg

Contrast is created by using opposite or juxtaposing elements in an image. Opposite colors on the color wheel, for example, contrast each other. We can also see contrast in value ranges of gray, with the extremes being black and white.

Mountain Range_b&w.jpg

Value is how the eye separates one detail in an image from another. Without value images have no distinction and even color is washed out, One trick artists do to evaluate value is to remove all color from an image and examine the image purely in “grayscale.

The Raster Process

Now let’s apply this concept to an example and examine the process step by step.



Step One: Choose an Image

Here we have a photo we want to raster onto wood. We chose a high-resolution image that has excellent value and contrast.



Step Two: Crop and Remove Background

In Photoshop, or (similar program), we can crop the image, if needed. We also can remove the background to avoid the background from distracting from the image we want to raster.


Step Three: Convert to Grayscale

Next, we will process the photo into a black and white image. Our laser cutter software will automatically convert images to black and white, but for the best results, we are going to first adjust our image in Photoshop.

500 dpi non dithered.jpg

Step Four: Import & Resolution

Import the image to your laser software. Now we want to adjust our resolution. Resolution is determined by DPI, or Dots Per Inch. The more dots per inch, the higher precision and quality of your images, while a lower DPI will process and engrave faster. For most image engraving, 500 DPI is perfect.


Step Five: Dither

Now, we will dither our image with our RetinaEngrave 2.0 laser software. Dithering helps define how the dot patterns will be engraved.



This process should give you maximum raster quality, but you will still need to experiment with power and speed settings depending on your material. Remember, with experience comes better results.

Designing Cover.jpg

To learn more, download our free ebook, Designing for Laser Cutting: A Technical Ebook for Creatives, where you will discover more design tips such as:

  • Choosing Image Files
  • Designing for Vector Cuts
  • Utilizing Kerf in Design
  • 3D Object Stacking Designs
  • And dozens of other tips & techniques

Look for more ebooks, coming soon, from Full Spectrum Laser