Tips and tricks for photo laser engraving

3 steps to the perfect photo laser engraving

JobControl® laser software has a photo-optimized engraving feature that makes it easy to create a high-quality engraved photo. The image is automatically processed when it is sent to JobControl's integrated feature. Using this tool, you can create stunning photo laser engravigs with no photo processing knowledge required.


Perfectly laser engrave photos in these 3 easy steps

Step 1:

After you select your photo, send it to the laser using whichever graphics program you prefer. See below for what makes a good photo.

Step 2:

Make these adjustments on the printer driver:

  • Material settings: Choose your engraving material. Here, we use our material data base to fall back on the tested laser parameters.
  • Process type: Select "photo-optimised." Photos are automatically optimised for laser processing in the photo-optimised mode.
  • Resolution: Select at least 333dpi or higher.
  • Raster algorithm: Different raster algorithms are available depending on the design you want to engrave and the effect you want to achieve. We recommend "Ordered Dithering” as standard setting for pictures of people.

Step 3:

Begin the engraving process.


What constitutes a perfect photo?

Selecting the right image is key in achieving high quality results, look for images with many grayscales. Image quality is also very important. Images from the internet typically have a resolution of 72 dpi; however, they can still yield quality results when laser processed if the image is big and can be reduced to the work piece size. Avoid enlarging small images because it delivers a lower resolution and reduces the engraving quality. In general, images for laser engraving should have a resolution of at least 300 dpi. If necessary, you can increase the resolution in your graphic software by resampling it.

Here are two examples of well suited versus ill-suited images for photo engraving:

The image to the left is well-suited for processing with the laser. It has a good contrast and exposure, and the elements in the image stand out.
The image to the right is less suited for laser processing. Even though the people stand out from the background, the exposure is too weak, which makes the people look like they are in the shadows. This makes it difficult to see details, and the people would be engraved as a unitary surface.


Rule of thumb for photo engravings: less is more!

The best results are achieved with appropriate material parameters. Very often too much laser power is used which results in “flat” engraving with little details, because the raster dots overlap. Ideally, the material should only slightly “scratch” on the surface. A good rule to follow is about 10% less laser performance relative to a standard engraving job.

TIP: To find perfect parameters for a material, you can engrave a grayscale matrix. If the engraving is too dark, reduce the power or increase the speed. If it is too light, increase the power or reduce the speed.

More about Grayscale matrix


Material has a serious impact on the engraving quality

Process resolution is another important factor when it comes to engraving quality. For example, anodized aluminum can be engraved with 600 –1000 dpi because with this material, the dots do not overlap. For wood or glass, on the other hand, 333 dpi is sufficient because every raster dot is larger than in the graphic. In general, lower resolutions (333 - 500 dpi) result in more sculptural photo engravings because the raster dots do not overlap.

Photo Engraving with Different Materials


Photo engraving effects with different raster algorithms

Both "Error Diffusion" and "Ordered Dithering" are kinds of raster algorithms that can be implemented in the JobControl X driver. Ordered dithering is an organized raster structure. The darker the grayscale, the larger the raster dot. Position and density of the raster dots remain unchanged. Error Diffusions is a “chaotic” raster structure. The darker the grayscale value, the denser the raster dots. The size of the dots, however, does not change.

More about raster algorithms


The right lens for your photo engraving

A 1.5” lens is in most cases the best choice. One exception are objects that shall be regarded from the distance. In this case use a 2” or 2.5” lens and a lower process resolution, which will also save time.


My result is not ideal, what can I do differently?

Best results with a photo engraving comes from using high contrast images. Don't forget that not all photos or materials are the same. You might have to adjust the images to make them more suitable for laser engraving. For example, you can increase contrast to heighten details in your photos. Functions to do this are in most graphic programs. You can find a summary of a few tips here:

Tips: Achieve the perfect photo engraving