What is the quickest and least complicated way to do a photo engrave?

My sweet friend Emilie is beyond distraught. Bailie her 10-year-old Westie is now at Rainbow Bridge.

I want to do an engraving but I do not even know where to begin. After much research there are many options for engraving a photograph.

I have an idea but I do not know if this would make a great project. I would like to engrave a round pendant she can wear as a necklace. I would like the size to be a little bit bigger than a half dollar.

What would be the easiest and least complicated way to approach this?

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The engraving is pretty easy, the trickier part is learning to adjust the contrast and get the photo ready for engraving.

There are a couple of good tutorials by Glowforge here on adjusting the contrast:

Or @jbmanning5 sells an awesome little action that does it for you in Photoshop…well worth the price of admission. I get great results with it.


Do you think the engraving would look good being the size of half dollar?

Well, you might want to remove any background and just do the pup. Can’t see how you could tell what it was if there’s too much in there.

(And that would be the case where you want to use high PPI image. The smaller you go, the higher the PPI you want to use.)

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Thank you so very much!!! You are the best. I am awarding you


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This doesn’t really make sense.

Ppi or more commonly dpi is dots per inch. It literally is a scale so saying that you want larger dpi for a smaller image doesn’t really track.

Basically higher dpi just means you have more information to work with and in general your end result will be more refined, or “smoother” with fewer visible artifacts like “jagged” lines.

To put it into context, a 300 dpi image is about what a laser printer puts out. It’s good as a real world example to give you an idea of how refined your end image can be; think about how crisp the text is from a laser versus something lower dpi like a receipt.

So when choosing the dpi of the image it’s really a question of “how far away do you expect to be when viewing the end result”. Something small like a silver dollar is probably meant to be held and inspected closely, definitely go as high dpi as you can. Something like a wall poster that’s viewed from a few feet away you can go lower and the jaggies won’t be as visible at that distance and so you can go lower dpi, but if you have a higher dpi image it’ll generally be much better end quality.

If I’m shooting for exceptionally fine detail…like on a grain of rice for instance… I want the pixels to be smaller. When I engraved on the grain of rice, I used an exceptionally high PPI value for the text. At lower PPI, the text came out looking like little puffy clouds instead of a word.

The higher the number of pixels per inch, the smaller in size they are. If you are engraving on a smaller total area, you want the details to be finer, not coarse and jagged, which happens at a lower PPI value.

The laser beam is limited in size of course, but I’ve noticed that at higher PPI values, it seems to get a pretty small spot. So that’s why I use it that way.

For larger images, it’s not as important to keep the pixel size small. But if you are working in a limited area and you don’t want it to look like a blob, the smaller pixel size becomes a necessity.

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My point is that it’s not at all about size of engrave but more about viewing distance.

If you’re going to be up close on the engrave then go higher dpi.

I pretty much don’t go below 300 because I want everything to stand up to close scrutiny.

Yep, we were saying the same thing I believe.

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The flip side of that is having the pixels/resolution/data to work with. I’ve converted a lot of photos for folks and you’d be amazed (or maybe not…) at how many people want to engrave a 800 px image at 15” wide…

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Like 800 px wide total? Not 800 dpi? If so that would look pretty bad… That would be about 53 dpi, which is ugly at almost any viewing distance.

People grab images from Facebook and want to make full bed engraves… it doesn’t end well usually.

I use On1Resize to scale photos if needed. It does an amazing job of scaling without losing quality. But, usually an image grabbed from Facebook, or even from a random server has been compressed so badly… the image quality is just pretty bad anyways.


My first paid project for glowforge came after I had it only a couple of weeks. I had barely gotten through the tutorial before someone asked if I could make a memoral her friend’s dogs. The only photo they had was an old professional print photo, that they snapped a picture of with their cellphone. That was so frustrating. But eventually I combined wood and acrylic to help with the coloring…They had one black poodle, one white poodle, both shiny, on a light pink background.

My husband did most of the photo shop and inverting for me, and no amount of his expertise still made it look nice. I did a lot of tests in small bits of acrylic for the larger sign. Here is one I kept just because it shows a lot of detail. It’s about the size of a dollar coin.

FYI, I still hate engraving photos, and this poodle one never really worked out in any setting for me. You need a really good picture.


engraving really is all based on the GIGO principle. great photos (crisp, good detail, good lighting, some contrast) convert and engrave like a dream. everything else is a bell curve that goes down to muddy mess very quickly.


Hey Jules is there audio on his video for that Action?

I just found out that through work I have access to photoshop. :slight_smile:

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Which video? (I don’t recall any video of his photoshop action, but I might have missed it. I bought the actions from him before they were even for sale.) :smile:

if you click on his name and then select photoshop actions takes you to a video.

I didn’t hear anything either. Guess it’s just Show and not Tell. :smile:

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Nah! Just a screen recording :slight_smile:


Could you explain the process of converting a photograph?