November '20

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6 4 L A S E R E N G R A V I N G R E P O R T 2 0 2 0 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M RESULTS WILL VARY Any material that, when vaporized with the laser, exposes another shade or contrast is ideal for photo engraving. This makes wood, anodized aluminum, marble, and slate all great contenders. We're also seeing users branch out into engraving photos onto tumblers, leather, and painted canvases. Photos are going to engrave differently from one material to the next, and your settings will vary as well. A photo that engraves beautifully on marble may not look as good on wood. Something that looks stunning on wood may not produce the same contrast on slate. As you become more adept at photo engraving, determin- ing which substrate will engrave the best becomes more intuitive. BEFORE YOU THINK YOU'RE DESTINED TO NEVER ACHIEVE HIGH-QUALITY RESULTS WHEN ENGRAVING PHOTOGRAPHS, CONSIDER THESE TIPS. Your photo's composi- tion is also an integral component in the quality of the etching. DESIGN CHALLENGES Since photos are already created, laser operators don't run into traditional design challenges as they might if they were creating original designs or graph- ics. However, more often than not, even high-quality photos may need a little tweak- ing—such as removing a background or manipulating the contrast—to achieve a better look when they are engraved. There is no shortage of photo processing software options available, and there are also various macros for photo engraving as well. However, if you have a quality image and experiment with the techniques and tips throughout this article, you can achieve high-quality results without additional soft- ware programs. IDEAL CONDITIONS The reality is, not all photos are well-suited for engraving. Photos that laser best are the ones that contain a wide range of light to dark shades and everything in between. Photos with large areas or blocks of a single color typically do not engrave well, especially when working with wood. While these photos may be visually appealing when printed, they are not well-suited for engraving. Your photo's composition is also an integral component in the quality of the etching. The best engravings are of photos with the subject in the foreground. When a subject is too far off in the back- ground, it loses detail and becomes lost on the engraving surface. Focus is another key factor. Photos that are well-focused and detailed engrave the best. No matter how much you can manipu- late an image, if it's blurry on screen, it will be blurry on the engraving piece. PROCESSING TIPS AND PREFERRED PARAMETERS • Photo resolution: The higher the resolution, the better. We recommend images be at the 300 DPI mark for engraving. • Engraving resolution: Engraving at 300-400 DPI is typically sufficient for engraving most photos. • Digital images: Make sure you get the highest resolution digital image you can. Low-resolution photos from the internet are almost never suitable for engraving. • Convert your photo to grayscale: This modifies the dot pattern that is in the image and makes it more suitable for laser engraving. • Inverting photos: Whether or not you should invert primar- ily depends on the material you're working with. The way the laser works is that it fires wherever there is a dot in your photo. For If you're new to photo engraving, the first thing you should do is set aside some time to familiarize yourself with the process. L A S E R E N G R A V I N G R E P O R T 2 0 2 0

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