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How do I prepare an image for CNC engraving?

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Forum topic by HuntleyBill posted 07-31-2018 01:47 AM 1290 views 1 time favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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HuntleyBill

114 posts in 3268 days


07-31-2018 01:47 AM

I need help with a couple of things. Ultimately, I would like to take photo images and engrave them onto wood or plexiglass. First, I would like to learn how to prepare a photo to be engraved. How to prepare the photo so it comes out nicely when engraved. Currently, I have Inkscape and Gimp.

Secondly, I would like to use my CNC router to engrave with. I see lots of tutorials on laser engraving but I DO NOT want to laser engrave. I intend to use my CNC router and an engraving bit.

I’m sure others are doing this but I was hoping I did not have to go through a steep learning process if someone else already knows how and tutorials etc have already been done. I’ve looked but can’t seem to find much for CNC router engraving.

Hope you folks can guide me.
Thank you for your help
Bill

-- If you think you can, or think you can't...your right!


19 replies so far

View DS's profile

DS

3025 posts in 2598 days


#1 posted 08-02-2018 01:39 PM

do you hear crickets??? ;-)

There are only a few programs that can extrapolate depth-of-cut from Grey-scale images.
I don’t have any experience with this, but it has been done before.

I wish I could help more, sorry. My fuzzy memory tells me that someone on LJs showed this before, so, you might try your hand with the search feature on this site.

Good Luck

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

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ArtMann

1110 posts in 994 days


#2 posted 08-02-2018 05:09 PM

The Vectric company sells a product called PhotoVcarve that will do what you want to do if I understand you correctly. There are a few shareware type programs that will do what is called halftoning. One of those might be useful as well but you are going to have to do a lot of conversion work to get something useful. Gimp and Inkscape are free. I don’t think you are going to find any free programs that will do what you want without a lot of finagling.

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Desert_Woodworker

1625 posts in 1393 days


#3 posted 08-02-2018 06:13 PM



The Vectric company sells a product called PhotoVcarve that will do what you want to do if I understand you correctly. There are a few shareware type programs that will do what is called halftoning. One of those might be useful as well but you are going to have to do a lot of conversion work to get something useful. Gimp and Inkscape are free. I don t think you are going to find any free programs that will do what you want without a lot of finagling.

- ArtMann

+1

-- Desert_Woodworker

View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

7275 posts in 3546 days


#4 posted 08-02-2018 06:19 PM

I believe there is a video tutorial on YouTube that uses Fusion 360 from Autodesk.
There are also some sites that convert photos into 3D images, positive or negative, out of or into the material.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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ArtMann

1110 posts in 994 days


#5 posted 08-02-2018 06:52 PM

I have never seen a credible service, free or pay, that will automatically convert 2-D photos into true 3-D vector imagery. It is very hard to generate information out of thin air. Would you kindly post a link?

I don’t think 3-D is what the original poster is looking for. He said “engraving” and not “carving”.

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oldnovice

7275 posts in 3546 days


#6 posted 08-03-2018 04:47 AM

There are videos for Fusion 360 but they also use some other software to get the results desired!
Embossify is one I have used!
One I have not tried is from Grabcad
This one from Ransen I just found the other day.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View HuntleyBill's profile

HuntleyBill

114 posts in 3268 days


#7 posted 08-03-2018 07:55 PM

Yes, there is a product called photoVcarve but it does not do photo conversion well at all. I’ve also tried halftoner with no luck. The first picture shows a photo that I would like to engrave. The second photo is what photoVcarve did to convert it, the third picture is what the engraving looked like from my cnc router, and the 4th picture is an example of what I would like to do. As you can see, NOT a good result at all.

-- If you think you can, or think you can't...your right!

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ArtMann

1110 posts in 994 days


#8 posted 08-04-2018 12:21 AM

What the web page shows being converted into a 3-D image bears no resemblance to a photograph and the software product will not do what the original poster wants. The same is true for the other links you provided. They all use a simple minded “darker equals greater depth of cut” algorithm. That is a far cry from turning a photo into a 3-D image. That is not the way real photographs work. I know of a guy who does this kind of conversion for a living. He used to hang out on the Camaster forum. He probably makes $50+ an hour doing it. If it were as easy as just scanning a photo and pushing a software button, his trade wouldn’t exist.


There are videos for Fusion 360 but they also use some other software to get the results desired!
Embossify is one I have used!
One I have not tried is from Grabcad
This one from Ransen I just found the other day.

- oldnovice


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ArtMann

1110 posts in 994 days


#9 posted 08-04-2018 12:30 AM

I have seen several lithographs similar the one you posted that were created in PhotoVcarve. I hate to be blunt but just because you can’t make the software do that, it doesn’t mean that nobody can. There are pictures all over the internet of similar projects done with this product. Here are a few . . .

https://www.google.com/search?q=photovcarve&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi1xvzekdLcAhVD61MKHa8MA5MQsAR6BAgAEAE&biw=1920&bih=947

Just be advised that you will never get the same kind of results you will get with a laser that has much, much finer resolution.


Yes, there is a product called photoVcarve but it does not do photo conversion well at all.

View HuntleyBill's profile

HuntleyBill

114 posts in 3268 days


#10 posted 08-04-2018 01:38 AM

Thanks ArMann. I do understand what you are saying. You stated it yourself that they use a darker equals depth algorithm to get the result. I am not trying to do that but instead to engrave the image into a substreight. Even using a laser, the image still has to be converted so the laser can engrave it.

As you mentioned about your friend who converts these images for $50+ an hour. That kind of answers my question then. PhotoVCarve can’t do what I was asking in my original posting. Please don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying PhotoVCarve is bad software, I’m just stating that I don’t think it can do what I would like to do.

What it seems I need to do then is to find out what software your friend uses and learn how to use it. Then maybe I CAN get the results I am looking for.

-- If you think you can, or think you can't...your right!

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oldnovice

7275 posts in 3546 days


#11 posted 08-04-2018 05:18 AM

ArtMann, I have to agree that the process used by most of these conversion programs are based on grayscale and are not truly a 3D conversion but I haven’t found anything better!

However, Embossify did a fair job on one of my photograph but I haven’t tried another and it just could have been my subject matter.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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oldnovice

7275 posts in 3546 days


#12 posted 08-04-2018 06:30 AM

Just for grins I did a little surfing on YouTube and found some interesting videos using Photo V carve and DXF halftoner.

https://youtu.be/tavbxh4XaRw
https://youtu.be/krFyBxYwWW8
https://youtu.be/ildGs8d--4U
https://youtu.be/b6CQ5mM_xOo

The results are decent for what each can do!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View JAAune's profile

JAAune

1846 posts in 2495 days


#13 posted 08-04-2018 02:24 PM

If using a laser, all you need is photo editing software like Gimp. There is a learning curve but it’s much easier than doing true 3d carving on a CNC.

I’ve done simple, low-relief engravings using pictures but not ordinary pictures. I took a picture of a carving in a dark room using a single light source pointed at the object I needed to duplicate. Four black and white pictures – each with the light coming from a different direction – were then merged to give me a crude, black and white height map. The result after some editing was pretty good but not nearly as good as 3d-scanning.

-- See my work at http://remmertstudios.com and http://altaredesign.com

View OG51's profile

OG51

127 posts in 289 days


#14 posted 08-12-2018 04:31 AM

I use my cnc machine almost exclusively for engraving and carving.

There is no easy way to get perfect conversions of 2d images into true 3d (2.5d). At least that I am aware of. It is a conversion of gray scale to a depth cut measurement (bas-relief). It can be done but it takes a bit of skill to do it. I tried to learn how to do it but gave up on it. I was not very good at it.

There are different softwares that can create depth/height maps with mixed results. Look at Shadermap Pro for an example but there are several programs that can get similar results. Do a search for bas-relief software.

As JAAune mentioned, there are also different techniques to created depth/height maps.

Another option is to build 3d models that can then be converted to carvings or engravings. Very challenging to learn but super rewarding once you get the basics. Here are some of my projects.

http://lumberjocks.com/topics/269465

Lithophanes are a different matter. As long as you have a good picture you can get decent results. The material has to be thin enough to allow light through so the thickness of the material can create the light and dark of an image: Shallow cuts (dark) deeper cuts (light).

View HuntleyBill's profile

HuntleyBill

114 posts in 3268 days


#15 posted 08-12-2018 02:16 PM

Thank you OG51 I will check out that software. I have been trying lithophanes on corian with good results. I’d like learn how to get the engraving on acrylic to work much better and maybe put the caring on the shelf for right now.

-- If you think you can, or think you can't...your right!

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