How I Prepare Photos for Engraving Using Photoshop

Just gonna drop this here… working on some preset stuff for Lightroom. But, it’ll probably be after Christmas rush that I actually get it done - if I’m happy with it.

:dog2: Rio approved.


Doesn’t get any better than that!

Thank you for taking the time to write all this up. I just bought your Glowforge Laser Engraving Photoshop Actions as a further thank you. We have to support each other when we can, right? I’m looking forward to using your actions to make my cribbage board projects go quicker when photos are involved. Thanks again, and Happy Holidays!


This is great and super helpful, thank you @jbmanning5 :slight_smile: I have purchased the photoshop actions :blush: I was wondering what everyone uses as a general guide for settings on harder woods (non-PG materials) like maple, oak etc to get this flat printed-like engraved effect? I keep trying to engrave and end up with a 3D depth engrave effect, even on draftboard :pensive:. In terms of speed, power, convert to dots/patterns or varying power and the other bitmap settings, does the lines per cm make a difference? Any help would be greatly appreciated, I am really quite confused as I am not sure what I am doing wrong. I am seriously struggling to create this picture-like engrave which looks amazing! Would love some help please :slightly_smiling_face:


Appreciate it!

I am also a fan of the printed on look versus carving into the material. I feel like the PG settings are a bit hot (for my tastes) in that regard.

My go to starting point for most wood is 1000 speed, 60 power, 225 or 270 lines per inch, convert to dots, and reduce the max dot density down to around 80-85. You can also experiment with increasing the minimum density up to around 10-15.

Beyond that, wood species definitely makes a difference. They all burn a bit different. For example, Baltic birch doesn’t leave a very strong contrasting mark very easily, so to get the darker mark, it usually digs a bit. I used a lot of Revolution Ply (HD, I think?), and I only needed like 35 power on that for decent contrast and the printed on look. Whiteboard/dry erase board (which turns out almost photo realistic!) I like around 500 speed, and only like 15-20 power (since your goal is just to remove the thin white part of the board). Alder is a super contrasty wood.

Another trick you can do on unfinished materials (no poly finish, etc.) is to sand over it with some 220 grit and it will develop more contrast.

Acrylic, I also like lower power since the mark is very high contrast. I don’t need it deep!

Here’s a recent testing one of Rio (while trying to develop some Lightroom presets). This was done on a Universal laser, but still high speed and low power.



Thank you so much for this, it is incredibly helpful! :smiley: I was struggling for a starting point and now it actually makes a lot more sense, I can’t wait to try this out :blush:

I used to use different lasers at uni like epilog and hpc so I actually started to feel quite perplexed towards the Glowforge and any PG settings :joy:

I have quite a bit of different species lying around which have all reacted totally different when cutting so I can imagine engrave is just the same? I have some oaks, walnuts, maples, pines but I also have things like panga panga and yew (I have a fume extraction unit so I’m safe from the toxins phew!). Is this a wood hardness thing or are there other factors involved? :thinking:

Does the sanding not remove any details of the engrave? That’s definitely an interesting one! Thank you :smiley:

Rio looks awesome! :heart_eyes: What material is this on? I am excited to get back on the laser now, I really didn’t wanna look it at after my confusions. Thank you :blush:

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Hello JB, I just purchased your JB’s Glowforge Laser Engraving Photoshop Actions document and free gizmos you offered. Have Lightroom, but now I need to get Photoshop.

Thanks for excellent documentation here and on your website. “Sam”


@jbmanning5 I have purchased the actions in February and successfully was able to engrave several photographs, however, I am no longer able to do this with the new beta version of the glowforge. I have several photograph orders for mothers day and I am beginning to panic because it is no longer working. I also did your step by step adjustments and still no luck. Can you offer any advice?

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The beta version did not change engraving/cutting specs. Can you be more specific about what problems you are having? A picture of what is not working would be helpful.

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Like @dklgood mentioned, nothing changed on that end that I know of. Engraving is kind of like a recipe where the different ingredients need to come together to make a successful end product. If you want to send over via message the images you’re working on, along with the material you’re using, settings, etc. I can try and provide some input.

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roberts_daughter.pdf (2.0 MB) Thank you both for your reply. Here are the before and after pictures using the action in Photoshop. Any help is truly appreciated.

With the right settings, that shouldn’t come out bad. It could use some tweaks before you run the actions though to improve it. The color cast/temperature could make it a little more difficult, so i would set the white balance of the image first.

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Thanks JB! Doing some research before I run an engrave and this is the best info on settings I have come across. Have your actions and love em. Thanks for the info.


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I too bought jbmanning file but I don’t under stand how it works can someone help me. I watched the film but still can’t get it.


Shoot me a private message and I’ll try and help when I can.


WOW. Thank you jbmanning5
I was banging my head trying to get this right… so happy I found your tool!

One “gotcha” in photoshop - is that I wasn’t able to click the play button as a “package”, I had to select each items under that folder then hit play - and it worked FLAWLESSLY!

I’ve added different action scenarios over time. The folder is just a folder containing all of the different scenarios. Regular editing action, portrait action, with and without a background (the with background action puts in an invisible dodge and burn layer, but it becomes visible if the background is transparent), and then invert/acrylic Actions for each scenario.

I don’t understand how to use system. I got photoshop open it look for action then I pick one like 2a then what do I do. can
you tell me the steps I have to take. To get engraving done.

I just need to know the steps I need to take.

  1. open photoshop
  2. load you photo
  3. crop photo etc
    4.go action then what do I do from there

It saves it as a PDF for you. Just upload it straight to the Glowforge.