Introduction: How-to: Laser Engraving Photo

Picture of How-to: Laser Engraving Photo

I want to tell you how we engrave photos on a laser machine. After various tests, trial and error, born algorithm that allows you to get good quality engraving.

Step 1: Excellent Quality Photo

Picture of Excellent Quality Photo

Use photo only excellent quality.
Open in Adobe Photoshop.

Step 2: Crop Photo

Picture of Crop Photo

Crop photo as you need. Crop Tool (C)

Step 3: Remove Background

Picture of Remove Background

Carefully remove background.
Use Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) Feather 0px, Anti-alias.
Make a white background, merge layers (Ctrl+E)

Step 4: Convert Photo to Grayscale

Picture of Convert Photo to Grayscale

Image > Mode > Grayscale

Step 5: Edit Photo

Picture of Edit Photo

Large dark areas of photos light.
The intensity of black color on face should be 10-15%.
The eyes should be almost white. Black 3-6%.
Light hair strands create more light. Dodge Tool (O) Range: Highlights.
Dark hair strands darken. Burn Tool (O) Range: Shadows.

Step 6: Image Size

Resolution: 200 pixels/cm (508 pixels/inch)

Step 7: Sharpen

Picture of Sharpen

Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask
Amount: 200 % Radius: 1 pixels Threshold: 0 levels.

Make sharper eye, eyelashes, eyebrows, lips, hair using Sharpen Tool.

Step 8: Convert Image to Bitmap

Image > Mode > Bitmap
Output: 200 pixels/cm (508 pixels/inch)
Method: Halftone Screen Frequency: 200 lines/cm (508 lines/inch)
Angle: 15 degrees
Shape: Round

Save As Format: BMP File
Format: Windows
Depth: 1 Bit

Step 9: Eye

Picture of Eye

Cut a piece of image for tests.
Eye - the best choice

Step 10: Laser Program

Picture of Laser Program

Import BMP image to RDWorks (or other your laser program).

Wood fibers should be parallel to the long axis (X).
Image as well.
Rotate image 90 degrees if necessary.

Set parameters for engrave
Parameters for 40 watt power laser (Program: RDCAM)
Speed(mm/s): 300 Max
Power(%): 20
Interval(mm): 0.05

Material: solid birch, plywood birch
Speed and power must be chosen by experimentation.

Step 11: Video

We use plywood birch in main.
It is accessible and cheap material.
Sand the plywood and cover it with varnish.
After engraving, wipe product with damp sponge to remove the soot and dust.

Step 12: Result

Picture of Result

Good luck!

More designs for laser cutting and engraving:


ElaineV11 (author)2017-12-11

I am completely new to engraving on a laser, had the machine less than a week and I want to do photo engraving but I am getting no detail at all. I am told my resolution is too low, anyone know of any videos that show me how to change resolution?


Th3rdsun (author)2016-12-01

I do a lot of engraving on acrylic on a Trotec Speedy 300,and I use a different method. I don't even bother taking out the backgrounds(personal choice). My first step it to convert to grayscale,then I go 300 for the resolution,then I go to adjustments>brightness/contrast and usually make both of those 25,but this can change depending on the picture.

Next I go filter>sharpen>unsharp mask. I usually go amount-500%, radius-3,and keep threshold at 0.

I don't even convert to bitmap,I just save it as one. The laser settings are definitely going to depend on your laser,and from what I understand,that goes for each individual laser even if they are the exact same model.

I'll have to get some wood and try out your settings. Thanks.

cartonus (author)Th3rdsun2017-10-02

Of course, everything is individual. I found the best way for myself, which gives an excellent result.
Wood luck!)

PaulW320 (author)2017-03-14

Every now and then great results are obtained against all odds. This laser
processed picture was scanned at 1200 dpi from a wallet sized faded photo, cropped, blown-up 15X and processed on cheap Big Box Store plywood. It has been my
experience that none of those variables are recommended procedures. This is proof that accidents do

cartonus (author)PaulW3202017-10-02

Nice result

Anirudh Ralhan (author)2016-12-01

Really Cool!!!

cartonus (author)Anirudh Ralhan2017-10-02

Thank you!

enewbold (author)2017-10-02

So what program are you using? CorelPaint, Photoshop, ...?



cartonus (author)enewbold2017-10-02

Hi Ed,

I prepare photo in Photoshop only.

About This Instructable




Bio: Carton, paper, plywood, wood vector templates for die cut and laser cut
More by cartonus:How to Improve Engraving Quality of Laser MachineHow-to: Laser engraving photoHow-to: Wooden badge with safety pin
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