Photographic Engrave of People of Color

Most of my people and clients are People of Color. I’m having real issues (not the first time, same in print) in getting tonal balance in order to do engraves. If I follow the current suggestion in adjusting white balance and curves, the engraves tend to be to light with no contrast or a parody of my subject.

My best friends mother passed and I’m trying to work with the color photo I got and it’s a major disappointment. I just wanted :glowforge: to be aware of the bias (maybe not fair) in photo engraves. But the orders come from many countries not just the US.

Just putting it out there. Apologies if I offend anyone.

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Honestly - you just need to get the photo edited correctly.

Or a better photo.

You also have to photograph skin tone differently. It just is what it is.

While you are testing, I would offer this - just crop out very small areas to test engrave. You’ll save time and material and get the gist of whether it looks ok or not.

If you wanted to share the image with a few volunteers (even in a private message if you don’t want to post here), I bet it could get sorted out.

(And very sorry to hear about your best friends mother) :frowning:


I am no expert in this area, but you may just need some help with the photo editing. You mentioned a color photo… have you started by converting to grayscale?


I had the same issues trying to get a decent engrave of my nephew and his fiance, they run opposite ends of the spectrum.

I did eventually get a good engrave, but it took balancing the color tones on both of their faces with a lot of hand work in Photoshop. (Never could get it to work on acrylic, but I got a really nice one on wood eventually.)

I’m afraid that wide ranges of tone are always going to require some hand adjustments.


OMG. Trying to take and/or edit a photo with people who have radically different skin tones is a pain. As the one black person in my family (and I’m not that dark-skinned) I feel your pain.


That was the first thing I did. But I’m hampered by the family only having Phone photos of dubious quality and then wanting to send them to me embedded…

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That was actually my most difficult issue as well - you need a good image to start with. I pulled it off of Facebook and it just wasn’t good enough to give to them when I was done.


Definitely a better photo, phone photos embedded in text messages. Been doing photo enhancement a while ( abet crime scene photos, but same dilemma)

Had success with a scenic photo, it’s just people that are giving an issue.


@jules That was started me on my journey. You had such a wonderful engrave. Yes most of mine will run the gamut of tones.

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There are definitely some tricks you may be able to do - but a rabbit out of the hat is a tough one, if the data isn’t in the image to “pull it out”.


I did a lot of cussing on that one though…you guys just got to see the results…it literally took hours of pulling out the highlights on her face and painstakingly expanding the shadows on his.

It would be cool if there was something that could do that automatically…

but then I guess they wouldn’t need us. :smile:


I’m trying to get a real “Kodachrome” photo from an earlier time. I have to deal with this all the time with video enhancement, but I’m just frustrated.

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Had the same issues. It was fast becoming impossible because of shadowing on the face features. It was either too washed out or too dark.

Finally found a good picture where the facial light was full on and not shadowed on one side or the other.
Worked very well then.


I’ve had this problem in the past when taking pictures of my grandchildren and of course group portraits of my blended family. But it was much easier in the print (Kodachrome) world where I could resolve them in the darkroom with jogging. After spending so many years in a digital world I sometime miss the old ways. But am committed to getting this down.

Just like standards, the nice thing is we have so many to choose from…

I’m so sorry to hear about that photo engrave not coming out as well as you hoped. We use people of all backgrounds as test subjects in setting our photo engrave presets. Unfortunately, it can take a lot of fussing in an image editor to get just the right look in the final print.


Understood, GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out) I was just frustrated with the process at the time (and the expectations of the family). I’ve had success with Landscapes. There does seem to an amount of the techniques/processes that have been kindly shared on the board that could be solved programmatically by the interface. Just a thought and thanks for a fantastic :glowforge: