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PhotoGrav Software for Laser Machines
PhotoGraV - "The Power Tool for Laser Engraving Photographs"PhotoGraV has been designed specifically for Laser Engravers. The objective of the program is to efficiently process scanned photographs so that they can be engraved on a variety of common materials with confidence that the engraved photographs will be of superb quality. Traditionally, the engraving of photographs has been difficult and has been a hit or miss endeavor resulting in many discarded products. The process has been so difficult and time-consuming, in fact, that many engraving shops simply do not offer engraved photographs as one of their products.
How to use PhotoGraV
PhotoGraV - The Power Tool for Laser Engraving Photographs!
PhotoGraV has been designed specifically for Laser Engravers. What's New!
The objective of the program is to efficiently process scanned photographs so that they can be engraved on a variety of common materials with confidence that the engraved photographs will be of superb quality.
Traditionally, the engraving of photographs has been difficult and has been a hit or miss endeavor resulting in many discarded products. The process has been so difficult and time-consuming, in fact, that many engraving shops simply do not offer engraved photographs as one of their products.
Now you can engrave photographs with ease!
Powerful tools that have been found effective in processing photos for laser engraving.
PhotoGraV simulates more than 20 engraving materials including: cherry and walnut wood; clear and black-painted acrylic; black laser brass and anodized aluminum; a variety of generic leather materials; and many plastics with either a white or black core and with a variety of caps including brushed gold and most solid colors.
PhotoGraV's processing functions have been tuned and optimized for each of these materials and the appropriate optimized parameters are automatically loaded whenever a new material is selected.
PhotoGraV automatically compensates for the engraving peculiarities of each material in the process of creating the "engraver-ready" processed image. For example, photos to be engraved on clear acrylic are automatically mirror-imaged and produced at a "negative" polarity. Of course, you can override these automatic features at any time to produce special effects if so desired.
PhotoGraV is very easy to use; (1.) Scan image as windows bitmap, (2.) Open the image in PhotoGraV, (3.) Choose the material type you will be engraving, (4.) Select the Final Process button. The next thing you see on your computer monitor is a simulation of what the image will look like when it is actually engraved on the material you have chosen.
Tips and Tricks
Installing New Materials
PhotoGraV - Frequently Asked Questions
1. Q. I'm currently engraving photographs that I've processed in PhotoShop (or CorelDraw or PhotoPaint or . . .). What can I do in PhotoGraV that I can't do in these graphics programs?
A. PhotoGraV provides a significant number of advantages over general purpose graphics programs for laser engraving photographs:
(1) PhotoGraV's simulation capability provides a way for you to inspect the appearance of the final product before you actually engrave it. Further, PhotoGraV's interactive mode allows you to adjust any of PhotoGraV's processing parameters and to see the resultant effect on the simulated engraving in near real time (a second or two). PhotoGraV's simulated engraving is not merely an overlay of the input photo on a simulated engraving material but rather is produced by a Power/Lens model using the actual binary image that you would eventually send to your engraver.
(2) PhotoGraV provides a diffusion dithering process that has been designed specifically for laser engraving. Further, the density of the diffusion dithering is user-adjustable and has been optimally pre-tuned for the engraving materials supported by PhotoGraV. The adjustable density of the diffusion dithering is in addition to the more standard grayshade adjustments that are also provided by PhotoGraV. Other common halftone patterns are also provided by PhotoGraV in a user-adjustable form but, for most images and materials, these "standard" halftones are not nearly as powerful as the adjustable diffusion dithering.
(3) Although the following two functions are provided by other graphics programs, only PhotoGraV allows you to adjust the functions' parameters and see the effect on the simulated engraving in near real time.
i. PhotoGraV automatically "stretches" an image's grayshades over the entire grayshade range but also provides user-controlled adjustment of clipping and gamma parameters and histogram equalization in the interactive mode.
ii. PhotoGraV applies a simultaneous smoothing and edge strengthening to the image. Parameters controlling this process are user-adjustable in the interactive mode.
(4) PhotoGraV combines the enhanced image with the dithered image before thresholding the result. In interactive mode, the relative image weights and thresholding parameters are totally user adjustable. To our knowledge, PhotoGraV is the only graphics program that combines the adjustable error-diffused image with the enhanced image before thresholding the result.
(5) For automatic processing, all of PhotoGraV's parameters have been tuned and optimized for each of the engraving materials supported by PhotoGraV. In addition, PhotoGraV recognizes the specific engraving characteristics of each material and processes the input photo according to the "normal" manner in which the material is used. For example, if a photo is to be engraved on acrylic, the processed image is automatically produced in a "negative" polarity and is flipped left-to-right. These preset parameters and characteristics can be modified at any time in the interactive mode.
(6) User-defined parameters, specified in interactive mode, can be saved as named parameter sets on disk and efficiently applied to future engraving projects of a similar nature.
(7) PhotoGraV produces estimates of the time required to actually engrave the processed image. The estimating model appears to be accurate to about 1-2% for most laser engravers.
(8) The simulated engraving can be printed from within PhotoGraV or can be saved to disk for use in desktop publishing or graphics programs such as CorelDraw. Simulation prints are very useful as customer proofs or as archival reference material.
(9) Printed "PhotoGraV Reports" provide a complete record of the PhotoGraV session including all processing parameter values, image names, the engraving material, any named parameter set that is used, and all PhotoGraV processing times and estimates.
In summary, compared to general-purpose graphics programs, PhotoGraV has been designed specifically for laser engraving photographs and consequently results in a much more efficient and reliable process than that obtainable by the general-purpose programs.
2. Q. Do you provide any instructions on how to use the program?
A. The PhotoGraV program is accompanied by an extensive User Guide that provides installation instructions, scenarios to assist you in learning the program, and complete descriptions of all of PhotoGraV's functions and controls. In addition, appendices provide additional information including tips for engraving and finishing photos on various common materials.
3. Q. What if I encounter difficulties in using PhotoGrav?
A. We provide one full year of Technical Support that is available via email, FAX, or phone. We want you to be successful in using PhotoGraV and we will expend considerable effort to ensure your success. We would hope that most of your questions would be specific to PhotoGraV and its use but we will attempt, time and resources permitting, to answer questions you might have about related topics.
4. Q. How does PhotoGraV fit in with my scanning software and with CorelDraw, which I use to control and to send information to my engraver.
A. (1) Use your scanning software to scan a photo which you save to disk.
(2) Use PhotoGraV to process the saved image and save the processed image to disk.
(3) Use CorelDraw to send the processed image to your engraver.
There are a few rules that you should follow in accomplishing the above steps and those rules are explicitly specified in the PhotoGraV User Guide.
5. Q. What if I order PhotoGraV and discover that it does not satisfy my requirements?
A. Return the program diskettes and documentation within thirty (30) days of receipt for a full refund of your purchase price. Refunded amounts do not include shipping and handling charges and returned products automatically terminate your PhotoGraV License Agreement.
PhotoGrav 2.xx Parameter Sets for Other Materials
There are several named parameter sets available for new engraving materials or for materials that PhotoGraV did not originally include. These materials include Black Granite, LaserTile, and Alumamark. The named parameter sets are available below as self-extracting zipped files. To download and use these files, click the desired link and, in the resulting dialog box, specify a folder for saving the downloaded ".exe" file. After the download is complete, find the folder and double click on the ".exe" file you just downloaded. In the resulting WinZip dialog box, specify to which folder the file should be unzipped and then click "Unzip". The named parameter set file (.prm file) will be unzipped and placed in the folder you specified.
To use the named parameter set (.prm file) in PhotoGraV, just open the image in PhotoGraV as usual and click the "Load Params" button and specify the folder and file name for the parameter set. Specifying the named parameter set is equivalent to selecting a material, i.e., you should NOT specify a material after using the "Load Params" button. Now, just click the "Auto Process" or "Interactive Process" button and the input image will be processed for the material corresponding to the named parameter set.
The named parameter sets use as backgrounds materials that were provided with the original PhotoGraV software and therefore do not be alarmed if the material name does not appear to be correct. Also, use the speed and power settings suggested below for the named parameter sets.
Black Granite - Black Granite.exe
The parameters for black granite have been compiled using input from engravers around the country who engrave a lot of photos on black granite. For a 50 watt machine, the suggested intial settings are Speed = 80%, Power = 16% at 600 dpi. For 500 dpi, the suggested initial settings are Speed = 80% and Power = 19%. Black granite is a difficult material for engraving photos and selection of the proper material is quite important. One should try to get granite that is as black as possible and which has as little "flecking" as possible in the material. With the proper material and with a little experimentation to determine the best speed & power settings for your machine, you can get superb engraving of photos on black granite.
LaserTile - LaserTile.exe
The "White/Black IPI Laser Plastic - #LZ902" material was used as the background for this named parameter set so that material will be the one that appears to be selected but the parameters have been set for LaserTiles. For a 50 watt machine, the suggested initial settings are Speed = 50%, Power = 100% at 300 dpi. For 250 dpi, the suggested initial settings are Speed = 42% and Power = 100%.
Alumamark - Alumamark.exe
This self-extracting zipped file actually expands to two files: (1) the named parameter set for Alumamark and (2) a letter sent to the Alumamark manufacturer just before the 2002 ARA show. This letter describes the experiments that were done to create the parameter set and also specifies the speed, power, and dpi parameters for the Alumamark material.
The background for the simulation image for this parameter set will be white rather than silver or gold since we used "White/Black Plastic" as the representative background material for the parameter set.
Glass - Glass.exe
The "Black Painted Acrylic" material was used as the background for this named parameter set so that material will be the one that appears to be selected but the parameters have been set for Glass. For a 50 watt machine, the suggested initial settings are Speed = 80%, Power = 80% at 300 dpi. See the Glass engraving tip sheet for more info.
Light Brown Pottery - PotteryLightBrown.prm
PhotoGrav 2.xx New Parameter Sets
Download PDF Instructions Here
Download PDF Information Here
View Video Instructions
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