Layered Photo Engraving Help/Ideas. Please!

Hello. I am new to engraving and have a neat idea, but I have not come across a single website or YouTube video to guide me. So I’m hoping I can get some guidance here.
I want to take a single photo and turn it into a 2 or 3 layer engraving. The subject (2 people) as the foreground/top layer. And the background scenery as recessed 2nd or 3rd layers.
The heart of the challenge is this: How do I edit the photo so only a section of the picture is etched , while the rest of the picture is ignored or ideally cut out.
First layer: I can lift the subjects (the 2 people) into a single picture, but then how cut that irregular outline.
2nd/3rd layer: How do I ignore the subjects and only etch the target regions?

I think making a layered etching, adding the physical depth to the piece, will look fantastic and I’ve seen it done with shapes and computer generated images, but I have never seen it done with a photo. I need someone with more experience to help me along.
Big Thanks for any help you can offer.

Eric

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Hi Eric! Welcome to the forum.
Software can do what you’re looking for. Either Photoshop ($) or Gimp (free) .
I think having receding sections of the background engraved on lower layers is very clever. :sunglasses:

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Thank you PTL!
I’ll look at Gimp right now.
Any additional tips you want/are willing to offer are welcomed.

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The biggest help I can be to you right now is to point you to the magnifying glass at the top right. The search function will give you access to the accumulated years of experience this community has gathered.
Other than that, YouTube is your friend.

I was in your shoes when I bought this thing, and then wandered in here. You have just found the best accessory for your machine. The collective experience here is a powerful thing. One tip - Look at testing materials for the effect you’re looking for as a treasure hunt! Test all the things (except anything with chlorine in it, like PVC). Enjoy your adventure!

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Im already looking at the image in the recently DL’d Gimp, with YouTube open on the other have of the screen.
That and accepting that this particular project will take time for figure out.
Cheers Mate

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I came to realize that the education that came along with the project was a block in the foundation of my ability. Enjoy the adventure.

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I’d say 95% of the effort to achieve great photographic engraves is in the editing before passing along to the GF UI. It is not easy to create good engraves from the average photograph. I avoid it like the plague…

I’ve done a lot of large engrave projects but the image was typically a blueprint or similar, and they are much easier to edit for great results on the machine.

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Thanks flyguy!
This seems to be a common critique. The top-line ideas I’ve come across so far are:
A: A photo with High Contrast w/i the picture itself, use the "Draft setting, and use light wood.
B: Edits should increase the contrast, sharpen the edges (the eyes are a good indicator), make an light s-curve on the histogram.

Hows that sound to you?

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I’m no expert on this because, as I said, it’s not easy and I tend to avoid it.

You’re along the right path, be prepared to test many times.

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It’s not done often, because it’s a PITA, but it does look way cool when you finish. If you can open this file you’ll see how I broke the image into four layers (GetPaint.net).
I did it 90% manually by making copies and deleting the parts I didn’t want, and then smoothing the edges so that when they were layered they looked like smooth transitions.

Crater Lake Coasters.zip (2.1 MB)

The final result got me this:


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This is exactly what Im trying to do! I’ll check out that link later today.
The breaking the image into discrete layers has been the hand up for me. I have not been able to do it yet.
I can lift the people out of the photo, but outlining them for the cut has proven beyond me. And layering the background, well, I have made no practical progress on that.

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If you have Inkscape, in your photo editor take a copy of your people and set the brightness all the way down and the contrast all the way up and you’ll have a black and white outline. Take that into Inkscape and trace bitmap, and it’ll present you with a perfectly matching cut line :slight_smile:
Then insert your actual image into the cut line and send it off to the :glowforge: :slight_smile:

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When you “trace bitmap” you will often get spurious areas “inside” the desired cut. You can “break apart” a path that contains multiple, non-contiguous areas (On Mac, that’s “⇧⌘K”) and then delete those inner sections leaving just the desired cut. You can also increase its size slightly by using the “Outset” command ( “⌘)”). Both functions are also available under the Path menu, but keyboard is quicker.

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Thank you for this last two tips. I haven’t tried them yet. Frankly I am a bit disheartened because this isn’t working out the way I envisioned it would. Ill try these next two ideas and see where that goes.

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I’ve got over 4 decades of working with graphic images in-general, and over two decades specifically with bitmap/raster, and it’s too much of a pain for me unless I’m really motivated to make something for family or, rarely, a friend.

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It’s my brother’s 50th birthday. I wanted to do something really nice and uniques to celebrate him.

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That’s exactly the kind of motivation I need to dive into projects on the laser or otherwise, My daughter is in the US Army and I have done a few things for her, including getting my one and only tattoo!!

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