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Images on Wood are Better with No Background

One of the more popular items to put photos onto is wood or granite. The problem is that wood is really not the greatest medium to work on. For this reason we really need to give ourselves the best opportunity to get the photo right. One technique that should be done on a photo that is going onto wood is to have the background knocked out. In this article I will show you a photo that is lasered on wood with the background and one that has had the background taken out.

Here is My Test Photo

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Here is a photo that we can use to engrave on the wood. It is a good photo with a very good white balance and good contrast

Open Up The Photo Into PhotoPaint

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To do some of the adjustments I am going to open a copy of the photo into Corel PhotoPaint. To do this right click on the image and select Edit Bitmap (1). This will open the image into PhotoPaint.

Open Up Convert To Grayscale

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Our first step is to convert out image to grayscale (1)

Grayscale Command Window

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Here is the image in the convert to grayscale command window. Because the males skin is darker (red) I have lighted up the Reds a bit more. I can not do it to much for fear of blowing away the face of the girl. (1). I have also adjusted the yellow a bit by making it lighter.

We Need to Lighten Up the Male More

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As I pointed out in the previous step our male is to dark and he needs to be lightened up. Right now if I laser the image the male will be to dark. The problem is if I try and lighten up the male I will lighten up the female in the picture to much. Thus I have to selectively lightened up the male while leaving the rest of the picture alone. The easiest way to do this is to use the dodge tool. You can find the tool located in the Toolbox under the Paint Icon (1). While holding down the left mouse button let the icons flyout. Select the Effect tool (2).

Our Male is To Dark

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When you select the Effect command the property bar will display a number of attributes. The attributes will be active depending on the tool. The tool is selected from the pull down menu (1). When you select the Clone tool the property bar will become active showing the attributes of the Dodge tool. Our brush will be normal meaning when we brush on with the tool it will lighten up the image. I have made my brush size 200 (3). The brush is a solid round shape (4). The shape is round and not square (5). Notice that the face is dark. This dark face will cause me issues if I was to start lasering the image as it is. The male’s face is to dark and we will lose detail as he will engrave to dark compared to the rest of the image.

First Pass

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With the dodge tool paint on the area that needs to be lightened up with the brush. Note: Make sure that you stoke only once. Every time you let go of the mouse and repaint again it lightens up the face again. I typically like to hold the left mouse down and do my whole area that needs to be done and than release the mouse. With one pass the male is starting to lighten up

Second Pass

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I have run a second pass to lighten up the male. He is now similar in colour to the girl. Now when I engrave the image the two people will be more consistent.

Select the Unsharp Mask

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We need to Sharpen the Image. To do this requires us to access the Unsharp Mask Tool. Go To EFFECTS | SHARPEN (1) | UNSHARP MASK (2).

Sharpen the Image

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We need to adjust our image. The window on the left is the original image (1). The image on the right is the adjusted image (2). Our Percentage needs to be taken up to 500 (3). The Radius is 7 (4).

Save The Image to CorelDraw

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Now that we have done our sharpen we can take the image back to CorelDraw. To save our changes to the file that is in CorelDraw go to FILE (1) | SAVE (2). This will save the changes we made to our original file in CorelDraw. You can close down Corel PhotoPaint.

Create An Ellipse

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In our design we want to change out photo into an ellipse shaped photo. To do this requires that we draw an ellipse that will be used to shape the photo into the oval. Select the Ellipse Tool (1).

Select the PowerClip

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To Crop our photo inside the Ellipse requires us to select the PowerClip command. First select your Photo. The PowerClip Command is located in EFFECTS (1) | POWERCLIP (2) | PLACE INSIDE CONTAINER (3).

Clip On The Ellipse

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When we select the Place Inside the Container our cursor will change into a bold arrow (1). Now take your cursor and when it is on the Ellipse click with your left mouse button. The photo is cropped into the ellipse shape.

Our Image is Cropped

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Our Image is cropped to the shape of the ellipse. For a more thorough discussion see my help file here.

Convert Our Image to a Bitmap

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Because the image is going on wood we need to convert the image to a black and white Bitmap. We can not convert the image until it is a bitmap. Because the image is in a powerclip container we can not convert it to a black and white image. So we need to use convert it to a grayscale image first. We do this by going to BITMAPS (1) | CONVERT TO BITMAP (2)

Convert to a Grayscale image

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We need to make our image a Grayscale image. First select the Grayscale in the Colour Mode pull down menu (1). Uncheck Anti-Aliasing (2). Check Transparent Background (3).

Convert to Black and White

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Once we have converted our image to a Grayscale Bitmap we can than convert it to a Black and White Image. Go to BITMAP (1) | MODE (2) | BLACK AND WHITE (3).

Use Jarvis

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In the Conversion window we see the original (1) and the Converted Image (2). Our Conversion method is going to be Jarvis (3). Click Ok.

Our Image is Ready to Be Engraved

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We have finished the adjustments to the image and we can send it to the laser.

Send the Job To the Laser

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Here is a screen shot of my laser driver. My printing resolution is 400 DPI ( I can get away with this as I have converted to black and white) (1). I try not to use to much power on wood so that I can get as much detail as I can. I have set the Power to 100 and the Speed to 90 (2).

Finished Image

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Here is the image lasered engraved on a wood box that I bought from IKEA. You can see that the background is interfering with the image. For this reason it is better to remove the background image from this photo. This is a very important point to stress when it comes to lasering photos onto materials that do not show a very good engraved spot. These products would be glass, wood or granite. It is hard to show detail in an image and for this reason we should remove any of the extraneous parts of the photo that will interfere with the overall effect of the image.

Here is Our Background Removed

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I have taken the image into PhotoPaint and using the Cutout command I have removed the background of the image. If you want more information on how to remove backgrounds review this tutorial or this video

Here is Our Image Ready to Be Engraved

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Here is my image adjusted to be lasered engraved.

Final Image

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Here is our final image engraved on the same wood box I got from IKEA. I have used the same power and speed. You can see that the image looks a lot better because I have removed the background of the image. So if you can get rid of the background when it comes to laser engraving photos I would suggest it as you will typically get far better results.

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