Need help as I obviously have no clue

I have spent the day trying to figure out how to etch this little cutie. I have made him black and white, I have made him an svg. I think I have rasterized him. Unfortunately I am barely familiar with AI or any of the other manipulators. I am just wanting to make it so that I can engrave the different colors (or gray scale as the case may be) into varying “depth” by using less power on each color. But no matter what I do, it does not recognize the different colors as different places to etch. Any help would be very much appreciated at this point…or even directions to a very simple step by step tutorial.dreamstime_xs_129307127


as an addition to this, I am trying to make this into an ornament, so I would want to be cutting a circle around it too.

If you’re really clueless, let’s start with the basics.

It’s a lot to read through but it will pay off.


Did you attach something to this response?

This has some good basic colors that would differentiate, but there are gradients in the inner ear and under the belly to top of coat. If you can pull it into a raster editing program, you could manipulate the colors a bit to give a better contrast when you convert it to grey scale.

I would do a trace bitmap with different colors and then play with the resulting vectors,. That is the only way you will be able to get fine control over each part of the pup. If you have AI, it can do a trace well.

It’s a good challenge to translate color into grey scale and get the contrast you want.


SOrt of? I included a link to a previous post I made to help people get started. It collects some really good resources. If the link seemed odd,try clicking here.

I did convert it into grey scale3c in AI but when I tried to do a trace all sorts of wonky things happened…and then I didn’t know what type of file I should save it to to import

It’s got some weird banding for the gradient.

You didn’t make the file, I assume. What format was it originall? JPEGs can get some artifacts, especially for lots of copies of copies.

AI will trace the color jpeg fine. It will give you vectors that you will then need to figure out how to punch out the shapes you want to use. then you fill these shapes again with a color, save it as a vector svg and then each color can be addressed individually with different settings.

The photoshop whizzes could probably manage a good greyscale, but I don’t do much engraving of rasters.

Find a good tutorial on tracing a colored bitmap in AI and follow it step by step for this. There are some in the Tips and Tricks section of the forum.

It’s a bit fiddly to get the trace tweaked correctly so that you get a minimum number of paths that are doubled and give a good edge definition.


You don’t need to be an expert in AI or PS or Gimp to produce a file suitable for engraving, but you do need to spend time (a) learning how to make the adjustments that need to be done and (b) experimenting with different output files and settings on the GF to get the results you are looking for.

There are plenty of tutorials on the file editing side. Basically you need to improve the contrast and reduce the complexity (fewer, simpler grey levels.)

You also need to understand that a “depth” engrave will likely not work well for this kind of design. Going deeper doesn’t necessarily make it darker. An image like this would likely be best engraved using the SD graphic settings where the shades are reproduced with a pattern of dithered dots, the darker the shade, the denser the dot pattern.

You’d likely want to make the background clear/white (no engrave) and score the perimeter of the white edges on the design elements. Also make the text dark or outlined.

Even for those of us with image editing experience (I’ve been using tools like this for over 20 years) and some time with the 'forge (two years for me), this is still not something you could expect to bang out in minutes. Probably an hour or two playing with the image, and hopefully not too many iterations of testing the engrave settings and adjusting the image again based on the results.


After ~20 minutes just playing with this image, I would not even attempt to try an engrave with it. If it had some special significance (like designed by a family member) I might invest a lot of time, by which I mean re-tracing all of the edges by hand. Otherwise, I’d be looking for more suitable (simple) designs to start out with.

If you want to depth engrave that it needs a lot more contrast, and then it will need to be rasterized.

That’s not really the kind of image that adapts well to depth engraving…you’ll be much better off doing a few things…darken it where you can, remove the background color completely, rasterize it, then just use the Photo Engrave settings (dots).

One of the Engrave experts can give you more detail on that process, I’m actually on vacation today. :slightly_smiling_face:


If I were you, I’d try the Trace BMP function with edge detection. Play with the settings. That will give you a pretty nice outline. Erase the text and re-create it (there are tutorials on here on creating text in Inkscape). Engrave the end result and color the wood by hand. It’s going to look a lot better than a depth engrave.



Is this in inkscape that you did this? I tried to trace in AI and did not see a trace bmp function. Mine came in with some many extra lines it was horrible. This one looks very clean. Can you then fill in the areas with grays to tell it how deep to go?

That means you have to play with the settings. By changing the settings you should go from too many to not enough. You’ll have to decide where the sweetspot is. Remember you can always do it again.

Inkscape has a preview window when you trace a bmp to preview what your settings will create. I’m sure AI has a similar feature.

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Do you have access to photoshop? I am at work and cant play with it now, but in Photoshop you are able to adjust the darkness and brightness of each color when you use the Black and white adjustment layers. I think I can help later tonight. Are you planning to cut this out as well? What are you planning to print it on?

I agree it is well worth the time to invest in learning more about how to control images for laser use. However I also know the fun of being new and seeing something you want to do print well on this amazing machine.


I do have access to photoshop…but like everything, I am trying to slowly learn that too…I am late to the game with all these computer programs

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You can achieve that in just about any editing software application, you just need to take the time to learn how to use them.

The reason people can charge for downloadable image files on sites like etsy is because they have invested the time to learn how to be able to create images that people without that experience or time investment will pay for.

The machine - like many others in the maker world - can produces wonderful results, but the creative part is up to you.

Tell me more about what you want to do with this image. I can work on it tonight when I get a chance, but it will help to know how the image will be used. I will also share what I do so you can try it on your Photoshop too.
What size do you want this to be?
What material are you printing it on?
Will you also want it to cut out a shape around it?

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That was Inkscape.

These sections aren’t all closed so I don’t think it would be easy to fill in gray areas. The reason I showed you this was to give you an alternative path to the grayscale route you’re on as it isn’t really a great fit with the type of image you’re working with. But if you’re 100% behind the grayscale engraving, you’re going to have to spend a lot of time learning the software AND how these images work with the GF.

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This is essentially what I a

m doing. I finally got this after about 10 hours of going back and forth trying to get something that was compatible. It doesn’t look horrible, but I think I was hoping for a bit more…I just used the varying power engrave.