Engrave picture

I have had my glowforge for a couple years, and thinking of really getting rid of it. I have had no luck with engraving photos. I have tried GIMP and other free sites, and it still doesn’t come out like the tutorials. Any advice?

Make sure your picture is really good quality. Increase contrast, etc. There are a number of good threads on here about engraving pics. It really is dependent on the picture you’re trying to engrave. I’ve had good luck with it…also, try different settings discussed in the photo threads. Good luck!


Engraving photos is likely the hardest thing to get consistently looking good.

  1. Get a very high resolution photo
  2. Make it black and white
  3. Remove the majority of the background
  4. Mess with the channels until it’s harsher than looks good
  5. Run it on Convert to Dots
  6. Run it again with Vary Power

Everything else is tweaks specific to each image!


As noted every image will have different issues. I have even used Gimp’s paint along path or “convolve” to blur it a bit to increase apparent resolution.
Screenshot 2023-11-09 000538
Any mask can be made a vector (path) and paths can be modified. A low rez image with a lot of jaggies can have the resolution exactly doubled and all the jaggies will help straighten the mask. Gimp can be very deep but like anythingyou need to invest the time to learn it. This is no different from expensive programs but those need investment in time and money.

This is a good example that took a lot of work…

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Two things.

  1. get photoshop

  2. Look around on here somebody whose name escapes me made a very reasonably priced script that grinds the image into something that will turn out great on your glowforge. i’ve used it a few times but that was a year ago. but the output was very good. compared to what i’d tried on my own.


It would help if you could post an example of a photo you’re having trouble with.
Many photos simply aren’t good for lasering and the steps to make them work well could be very different depending on the initial image.


Yes photoshop, just turn into greyscale and adjust the levels how you want.

Do you have any other free programs that may be easier to use for people not so tech savvy lol?

for me it was just really hard.

but with photoshop and script I mentioned, the results are terrific. have to balance whether or not you’re going to do a lot of photo engraving, and what your time is worth.

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I honestly started using Picsart which does charge for extras but is free. I get away with running a picture through the filters and playing around till you get the shades you want. It also has the Black and white option for making the picture a vector image, but also you have to play with it to get the desired look.


One thing I haven’t seen mentioned is the type of wood you are using. Results on bamboo or pine can be problematic due to the variations in grain and hard/soft parts. I’m sure that there are other woods that give similar results. I don’t do much if any photo engraving so I can’t give a recommendation, but I’m sure a search of this forum would give you more info.


Thanks . I’m also having a problem trying to engrave on a cutting board, i did it once and now it is saying it’s bigger than 2 inches …

It’s likely saying it’s not within 1/2" of the laser, unless it’s the fan hitting the board.

The easiest way to fix that is to print this:

As long as the engrave area is within the happy area on the ruler!

There is also the yes-math way here:


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