Editing pictures that you download off the internet is in general annoying and time consuming, let alone getting it to an acceptable level for engraving it with a laser.
Well that was my goal today.
The JobControl X software that comes with the purchase of a Trotec laser, has amazing capabilities and is extremely advanced in comparison to the other software packages offered by other brands. I would know, I have used almost all of them!
Today I set out to explore the process, of going from downloaded image to a final product, engraved on Stainless Steel.
When I’m looking for an image to engrave, I use a few fundamental concepts in order to mentally filter through images, to see what would engrave well with a laser. They are:
- Image must have high contrast (Black and white images work best, but high contrast grayscale works very well too)
- Image must have a high resolution value, so that when resampled down to the size needed to engrave, we don’t loose clarity or definition.
- The image’s background must be easy to work with, pure white background or transparent background is a godsend!
- The image should preferably be taken front on; skew in an image is difficult to remove and time is money!
So today I found an image produced by Pez-Artwork of the south park character, Kenny. Pez has some amazing artwork which is sketched by hand!
If you’d like to check out Pez’s Instagram it’s @pezartwork
The image I selected is pictured below.
As you can see, this image ticks all the boxes, it has high contrast, relatively high resolution, the background is white and is taken from front on.
The process I used in order to get this from a downloaded image, to an engravable image was quite simple and quick. I didn’t put much effort into editing the original image as I wanted to see how quickly I can go from original to engraved image. I did the bare minimum to get it to an engravable state (Please keep this in mind!)
I simply played with the levels, contrast and brightness of the image to get it to a very basic “semi-finished” version. I later zoomed in and edited the image by removing some of the vignetting and shadows. This was done with the Brush tool and a white colour selected.
I saved that image with the best settings possible for future editing.
Last step in the process is bringing the image over to CorelDraw X7. This step is optional, Trotec’s laser can be used with any software program that can print with an RGB or CMYK colour palette, meaning I could have printed straight from Photoshop if I wanted to.
I use CorelDraw X7 in order to resample the image to what ever size I need. This is helpful because if your image was created at A4 size and later you wanted to resize the image, you will lose detail and resolution in the resizing process. Resampling the image will keep the same resolution when the image is resized.
After the image was resampled and resized, I used JobControl X’s driver to optimize the engraving process for the image… it was so simple. There is a drop down menu in the Trotec driver that will allow you to select what type of process mode you would like to use; choosing Photo-Optimized works well for this kind of engraving.
Once the image was printed to the JobControl X software, I positioned it onto the material and pressed GO!
The photo does not do the engraving justice, It looks very eye catching in person. That being said, the Photoshopped image needs some work. You can see where I have manually touched up the edges of the image.
For a first go, I’m impressed with the Photo-Optimized mode that JobControl X uses to process the image. This engraving was done on the Trotec Speedy 300 flexx.
I used the Fibre laser to directly mark the surface of the material, NO added chemicals or coatings were needed to produce this finish. The settings I used are listed below:
- 100 power (20W Fibre)
- 10 speed
- 20,000 Hz
- 1000 dpi
My next step is to work on the Photoshop file to try and remove all unwanted background colour, so the hazing effect around the image disappears.
Catch ya next time!