Raster algorithms

Raster graphics and raster algorithms - helpful tips for laser engraving

What are raster graphics?

A raster graphic or bitmap (e.g. PNG or JPEG) consists of individual image points (often called “pixels“), which can have different colors. The image points or "pixels" in their entirety represent a colorful image. The smaller the image points and the more image points there are, the better the quality (resolution) of the image. However, a raster graphic has the disadvantage that it cannot be enlarged arbitrarily, without being able to see the individual pixels as small squares. The term “raster graphics” is also based on this effect, as the image has different points arranged in a raster.

What does rasterizing mean?

During laser engraving, the grayscale or color images are converted to black/white images during rasterizing. The impression of a grayscale image is generated through different point sizes and point distances. However, the human eye perceives the raster as a mixture of colors.

What does this mean for laser engraving?
During rasterizing, binary information is calculated from image data as: "1 = lasering / 0 = not lasering." Grayscale or color images are then converted to a black-white image that can be engraved. There are different algorithms for the arrangement of the individual image points. In the JobControl® laser software, you can simply select the desired raster algorithms.

Which raster algorithms are available?

The following raster algorithms/halftones are available in the JobControl® laser software:

  1. Ordered dithering raster
  2. Error diffusion raster (Stucki, Jarvis, FloydSteinberg)
  3. Color
  4. Black/white

Ordered Dithering

"Ordered Dithering" is an ordered raster structure. The individual points are placed along a virtual raster and differ in size depending on the grayscale value. The darker the grayscale value, the larger the point. However, the density and the position remain unchanged.

This raster can be compared with the print of large billboards. The four primary colors are presented as points and are printed above each other. The impression of an arial image results when they are viewed from a distance.

Error Diffusion

These raster algorithms are a chaotic raster arrangement. In the JobControl® laser software, the following three error diffusion rasters can be selected: Stucki, Jarvis and FloydSteinberg.

The principle of these three algorithms is the same: the darker the grayscale value, the denser the points are set. The point size remains unchanged. They only differ minimally in coarseness and depth sharpness.

The error diffusion algorithms reach a better detail accuracy than the ordered dithering raster.

Color and black/white

The two “halftones” color and black/white are used for engraving vector data. In contrast to the ordered dithering and error diffusion rasters, the data is not converted to grayscale here. Instead, the objects with the 16 predefined colors in the JobControl® are directly transferred to the laser software, where an individual parameter can be defined for each color. This allows for different performances, speeds or offsets to be processed in an engraving job.

When do I use which raster algorithm?

For the most part, your preferences in material and design will determine which raster algorithms you should use. However, here are some general guidelines:

  • Error diffusion algorithms let photos with lots of details become clear, such as buildings or animals with thick fur. Images with little contrast such as faces of babies or low-resolution photos can also be optimized in this manner.
  • The ordered dithering raster is particularly suitable for images with fine grayscale courses, for example people or images which must achieve maximum visibility.
  • Black-white is used for vector graphics where only a black engraving color is present in the graphics.
  • Color: As soon as a second engraving color is assigned in the vector graphics, the raster color must be used; otherwise the parameter for black is automatically used for all engravings.

All these rasters do not have an effect on the cutting lines.

Further tips and tricks

Photo engraving is made easy with Trotec JobControl® laser software. Create the perfect photo engraving in 3 steps.

Photo engraving made simple