Skin tone issues

Hi folks,

I have a few problems I’m trying to resolve.

Problem # - I’m trying to create a print of a dark african-american individual. All my attempts fail because the darker shades don’t really come out. I have done the following with no luck:

  1. In Photoshop taken a high quality color jpg and converted it to grayscale and changed brightness and contrast -

  2. In Photoshop Converted to halftones - no dice - image quality becomes too grainy.

  3. Tried several settings - draft photo, hd graphic, sd graphic, draft graphic. Still having trouble with the contrast.

Problem # 2 - I’ve run out of my material as a result of #1 I have ordered more but it won’t arrive in time for the individual who this is for has left our place of business. All I have left is red and clear acrylic, cherry veneer.

So any tips that might help me get this done with whatever I have left would be very appreciated. My CEO would be very pleased if I can get something ready before this individual comes tomorrow morning so I have today.

thanks in advance!

The reality is, some images simply don’t translate well to engraving on wood. The material doesn’t support subtle contrast you can get with ink on paper.

You can jack around with settings until you get something cartoon-like, with a small number of higher contrast shades. That probably won’t give a pleasing result.

what about acrylic or some other material?

Same situation. It’s only suited to high-contrast images - then you have to fill the engraved sections. Look at tile examples here.

Have you looked at the photo prep tutorial on the support site here?

let me see if I can locate that

It won’t help - they just illustrate the point that you need heavily boosted contrast, which won’t work when you have a very low contrast source image.

There was a previous thread about this: Photographic Engrave of People of Color

How they’re photographed can make a big difference.


You might give it a shot on the cherry - I find the darker woods can sometimes give a better illusion to a darker skin-tone, in ways that make washed-out pictures look odd, but those with rich colour look better…

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Absolutely agree with this (using a darker material) BUT then (in my limited experience) you need the image to almost be an outline, pencil-sketch-like, to be define features. Back to cartoon-like results.

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@jbmanning5’s PhotoShop actions will give you pretty much the best outcome you can get from a photo. I tried his (beta testing) Affinity Photo action on this pretty crummy photo yesterday:

and got this (engraved on tile):

Granted, dark skin and dark fur aren’t the same thing, but… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Not sure that this will show up (especially if you aren’t in the Facebook group), but a LOT of it is in the proper editing. I don’t want to copy/paste the pic because it’s not mine. But, here’s an example:


Try this:

You’ll need to play around a little bit with the black and white conversion to get the optimal settings - push the red and yellow a bit though and it should get you there, along with everything else.


Thank you for the answers @eflyguy, @geek2nurse, and @jbmanning5! They’re right. It requires editing your photo until you find the right adjustments so the subject stands out in your print. Because this topic is beyond the scope of Problems and Support, I’m going to move this to Everything Else where the discussion can continue.


thanks - i didn’t know where to post it and to me it was a “problem” which I will reclassify as a “challenge”

In the end I got an ok result but then decided to apply a light coat of ink and wipe it off and the result was spectacular on the veneer and orange acrylic.


Ooh - can you show pictures? That never would have occurred to me and I’d love to see the effect!

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I’ll see what I can do. The image is of a high profile local politician so I’m not sure that I can share his likeness but maybe I can take a picture of non identifying parts.


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