Keeping detail in a dark engraving

Okay, so I’m getting the hang of playing with the settings. This is poplar .75 inch thick and I’m pretty happy with the outcome, (after several tests), but I’d love to know if there’s a way to keep the raised lines unengraved, (if there is such a thing), similar to the two pieces on the front of the helicopter. I have nothing in those two spots but I also don’t have color in the wings or around the windows. Is there a way to keep those lines higher so you can see the detail a little better? I currently have my settings at speed 1000, full power, and 170 lpi.


I think uploading the art would really help here.


What’s your source image look like?

Looks like you’re doing 3D engraving - so you need to figure out a way to get the parts you want lighter, to be a lighter value of gray (or white for unengraved).

Several ways to do it - just depends on the artwork.

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I’ve tried it as both an svg with white and as a png with no background. It’s happening on my others too which is why I assumed it was my settings.

If that’s the image you’re using, you would need to increase the contrast (fill it with black instead of light gray) and use masking. There is always going to be a little bit of staining on the unengraved parts that make it look darker. Masking eliminates that. Or you can sand it lightly with a fine sandpaper to remove the staining.


Nice clean SVG, seems like it is right. You might be up against a material limitation. Try engraving it larger or doing multiple passes at lower power.

The issue I think is that the lines are just too fine at the size you’re trying to engrave, and so the high power fast engrave method is leading to excess energy darkening your thin lines.

As for Jules, she’s right about colors mattering in rasters, but in SVGs it doesn’t matter what color your fill is.


Sorry, thought I saw that she was 3D engraving. (Correct, it’s not important for vectors.) Just mask it.

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Thanks! I’ll give it a go and try masking it to see if it helps!

Just curious, what size are you engraving these? Judging by your grain, it’s really small.

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No worries, it’s good to know anyway. I am not as proficient in illustrator as I am in photoshop so the vectors will be few and far between.

About 4 inches across.

Yeah your scale is part of the issue I think. At that size, your white spaces in the wings and such are only about 0.03" thick. That’s bumping up against the limits of things, and can easily be “overcooked” in wood if you engrave at high power like that.

I’m sure @rbtdanforth will have some practical tips, he does a lot of engraving… but the type of wood you’re using might matter too. Harder woods with tight closed grain structures tend to hold detail a bit better than softer ones.


Good to know and I have some room. Personally, I liked just the outline better but my husband liked it filled in.

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(Oh btw this sort of highly detailed thing engraves really well on tile…)

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Ha. You changed the image from a PNG to a SVG. I caught ya!

I wouldn’t have guessed 4"… I was thinking like 1.5".

So, I ran my test with it resized to 1.5".

I slowed the head down… 300 speed, power 16, 170 LPI. I could have used less power for sure.

Remember, this is at an inch and a half. Oops.

The detail was there, it just needed to be brought out.

Hit it with just the corner of a 400 grit sanding sponge:

If I can get this with at 1.5", you can definitely do it at 4".


Lol no I was definitely using the SVG for this one. I tried the png when I removed the white but it looked the same! I’m going to try it with your settings though. This is my third time using my GF so I’m still trying to get the hang of it. I like the idea of proof grade material but I make my own furniture and boxes so I won’t really have the option to use them as much.

I would go to gimp and re-look at all the colors and shapes. key to the idea is the parachute where you want the “ropes” to be light and the background black. It might be easier to see in reverse but no matter which way you view it, it will not look “normal” if you reach an ideal 3d engrave image.

I have found that in Gimp you can create another layer and use burn/lighten that you can blend into the background image and still keep the detail.


Try the HD engrave settings if using Proofgrade.

All the advice will help for sure. Masking, if you aren’t. Slow the head speed down, slower is more “accurate”. And a bit of clean up.

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Would my focus height change it as well? This piece is .75.