Photoengraving Tips – What to DO or NOT to DO When Engraving Pictures

Photoengraving TipsPhotoengraving is one of the most popular service lines in our business. We’ve written extensively in our blog posts on how to process photos manually for engraving and what constitutes good photos for engraving. If you missed these tutorials, no problem, you can still read them to have a better understanding of this subject. In this article, I  would like to provide more helpful photoengraving tips to engravers.

If you’re in the laser engraving business and you don’t cash in from offering this service, you’re missing the money. Most engravers in Uganda don’t engrave photos. I think it’s because they don’t have the photo processing software. Secondly, they’ve never bothered to learn how to prepare photos manually without a software program. Thirdly, they don’t have high-quality engraving systems that produce excellent results because most of them have their machines from Asia. But it’s never late. If you’re committed, you can always learn from the useful photoengraving tips I provide on this blog.

What Are These Photoengraving Tips?

Engraved Photo GiftThe photoengraving tips I am going to discuss below are entirely for people in the engraving business or those who intend to join it. Some of them I could have talked about them, while others are new. They consist of the dos and don’ts. Just follow carefully each of them to learn.

Photoengraving Tip #1 – PRACTICE

There is no single perfect method of engraving photos. You may have tried and the results didn’t come out well. It doesn’t mean you give up. The more you engrave photos the better you become. We have gone through a long learning experience and each time we learn new photoengraving tricks. It has helped us a lot.

Photoengraving tip #2 – TEST

Before etching the photo you’ve processed, it’s always prudent to test it first on a rough material. It will help you to ascertain the quality of the final results. You should always do it on every job you receive so that you don’t risk spoiling your customers’ products.

Photoengraving Tip #3 – CONSIDER THE MATERIAL

In photoengraving, we use different materials. For instance, you can put a photo on wood, metal, marble, glass, etc. The material you use influences on the quality of the engraving. A picture can engrave differently from one material to the other because each of them produces different results.

We predominantly engrave photos on wood because most of our clients have a preference for it. Even with this material, different species don’t produce the same results. For instance, wood with many grains isn’t suitable for photoengraving. Since we prefer using local hardwood in our business, we embarked on a research of the type of woods that produce excellent photoengraving results. We do this by testing wood species we come across. Soon, we shall share our experience with you on this blog.

Photoengraving Tip #4 –  CHOOSE SUITABLE PHOTOS

Not every photo is appropriate for laser engraving. This aspect is so challenging. Most of the clients we receive bring unsuitable photos for engraving. These are poorly taken pictures that cannot produce excellent results. And if you are to work with them you have to spend ample time trying to improve on them. We have written extensively on what constitutes a good photo for engraving. Read the tutorial to learn more about this tip!


Many times, clients come with printed photos which you have to scan first. When scanning these pictures, always use a low resolution not exceeding 300 dpi. Usually, we etch photos at 300 dpi (dots per inch). There is no reason, therefore, to scan a photo at a higher resolution when you are going to engrave it a lower resolution.

Photoengraving Tip #6 – SCAN PHOTOS IN COLOUR

When you’re scanning the photos, select the colour option on your scanner even if the hard copy you have is in black and white. The colour process picks helpful data that enables you to work on the picture well.


Usually, low-resolution internet photos are not suitable for engraving. This does not mean you cannot etch digital internet pictures. As you may have known, most photos picked from the internet have a resolution of 71 dpi. We have ever processed them and achieved excellent results. But this is possible only when you know how to process them well. When selecting internet pictures, choose those that are large which you can scale down to fit your workpiece size.


unsuitable photosPictures with poor backgrounds are those that have either clustered backgrounds or expansive backgrounds containing only one or two small subjects. If you have an image with a clustered background, process it to remain with only the subjects you need for your project.  Poor backgrounds, usually, will not give you excellent results.


If a photo contains a large area of one colour, avoid it because it will not engrave well. We have tested them numerous times and we have always received disappointing results.

Photoengraving Tip #10 – DON’T ENGRAVE PHOTOS AT A HIGH DPI

DPI means dots per inch. For instance, if you want to engrave a one-by-one-inch picture at 1200 dpi, you will have to etch 1200 dots from left to right and 1200 dots from top to bottom. It’s okay with digital photo printing but not good for laser engraving. The challenge is that the spot size of a high-resolution lens of most laser systems cannot be made smaller than 0.03 thousand of an inch. So when you burn a dot, it becomes bigger. And if so many spots are put together, which generally occurs at 1200 dpi, you overburn the image which is not good for an engraved photo.

Final Thought

Laser engraving photos is not easy and has never been a straightforward process for most engravers. It’s one of the reasons why they do not offer it as a service line in their engraving shops. But if you’re committed to earning from providing this engraving service to your clients, the above-mentioned photoengraving tips come in handy to help you.

Hello! My name is Charles Kiyimba, a creative engraver, a professional teacher, a passionate blogger, a confident graphic/web designer and the founder of Goleza Designers Ltd, an engraving business that turns images into real products. Through my hands-on experience, I share with you free helpful information on our products and services, business, marketing and personal development. Always dive in for more!


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