Real Newbie Photo Engraving

Ordered my Glowforge Pro today. The main reason I bought it, is to get into photo engraving of military aircraft and pilots and ground crews. I come from the 3d printing world and print Lithoplanes but my dream was always to work with wood. Any good software to buy and thoughts or suggestions would be grateful.


The GF will work with just about any software that will produce an SVG, or PDF file (for cutting) and JPG or PNG.

I’d start poking around the Tips and Tricks section and look at the Matrix.

Congratulations. You’re going to have a lot of fun with this machine!


I was one of the first to photo engrave with this thing but a lot of people have surpased me since!
As @hansepe said, the :glowforge: is not real sensitive to where it gets its input from so it will probably come down to what you are comfortable with. I use GIMP but Photoshop would work just as well.

To get exactly what you want there is a lot of experimenting to do with contrast and different dithering techniques.


Welcome to the forum! For engraving, GIMP is a good free software to start with. If you also want to cut (and you will want to), you’ll need to generate a vector cutting line. A free software for that is Inkscape, or many people use either Illustrator or Affinity Designer. You can find info on all of these in the Tips and Tricks section referenced above.


Buy is the first issue. Gimp and Inkscape are opensource and free. That is not to say they are without cost as you need to learn to use them and they are harder for a beginner to learn. However a background in Lithography is to know the hard part already.

Irfanview (also free) will very quickly and easily do anything you need that involves the whole image and for entire pictures that is often all that is needed, If you want to do something on one part and not another then Gimp is the tool of choice.

Where you want to cut rather than engrave Inkscape is the necessary tool. but simple things like outlines are easy there.

Using the Laser to create lithographs in stone, tile, metal, or wood can also be very interesting and insight there is something I think many of us would be very interested in learning.

When I ordered my Glowforge the first thing I did was download and investigate Inkscape as I had never used it before and it paid off as I had both the knowledge to accomplish what I was looking to do as well as a lot of designs already done and ready to go.