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View Full Version : Photo on mirror is beyond me! can any one help



Calvin thompson
06-21-2014, 10:35 PM
started with a pick trimmed it to fit the mirror. then ran through photo grave, no good results. then i ran through corel x6 with the gold method and not much better. it just gets to dark allover. so if any of you pros can take a look and give me some pointers it immensely appreciate it. thanks

Bert Kemp
06-21-2014, 10:44 PM
Thats the picture you want to do. could we see one of how it came out?
Also I would get rid of the back ground, its to busy for engraving. Then I'd increase the brightness and up the contrast a little.
Are you engraving the back side of mirror?

Calvin thompson
06-21-2014, 11:37 PM
thanks Bert i cut out the faces and shoulders. im working on the back of a Micheals mirror

Robert Walters
06-22-2014, 4:52 AM
Calvin,

See if this helps any.

291770

Bert Kemp
06-22-2014, 9:58 AM
Calvin,

See if this helps any.

291770

That should help a lot I forgot to mention change to BXW but I figured thats a givin, LOL

Clark Pace
06-22-2014, 10:15 AM
Also in my experience user a lower resolution. like 180dpi

Scott Shepherd
06-22-2014, 10:54 AM
Calvin,

See if this helps any.

291770

The problem with that is the woman on the left is wearing white, which is going to disappear completely in the engraving, so she'll be a floating head and the woman in the middle is wearing a jacket that's black, so it's going to be a black blob with no detail.

To make it right, you'd need to change the tone of the white jacket to some color gray, and you'd need to lighten the black to where it's a gray as well. The faces are pretty white, so that's going to cause them to lose a fair amount of detail as well.

This is exactly why we don't do photographs as a general rule. You can engrave things, but to make it really look great, it's going to take some time in a photo editing program.

Dee Gallo
06-22-2014, 12:10 PM
Just as Scott mentioned, there are different issues with each person - I'd work on each one individually, especially the two people on the left. She's too light and he's too dark. This is a job for PhotoShop because you need a lot of control not available in PhotoGrav. The photo is blurry, so you'd need to sharpen it up, work on balancing the highlights and shadows and removing the background would help a lot. Run a test on black mat board to see how it's going without wasting a mirror.

Robert Walters
06-22-2014, 12:59 PM
The problem with that

It was a quick and dirty edit in an attempt to lighten and raise contrast.
Not that I'm any good at photo editing for engraving purposes (yet).


I refuse to use any of the the photo engraving prep softwares that are out there. I'm bound and determined to eventually get it down manually, then maybe script it in ImageMagick (a command line, non GUI, image manipulation program) as a challenge to myself.


That's probably my fourth attempt to manipulate a photo for engraving since they take so long to raster engrave.
It's a lot of work for just one-off's, now 10+ is another matter =)

Scott Shepherd
06-22-2014, 1:06 PM
I agree Robert. That's why we don't normally do them. The problem is that every photo is different, so you never "get it figured out" and have a set of presets that works. I think I mentioned this before, I had a guy bring me a photo of a black man in black clothes, with black hair and wanted it engraved on acrylic. You can get that all dialed in, but then the next person is a black man wearing a white shirt. Then it's a white man wearing black clothes, then it's a white man wearing white clothes standing with a black man wearing black clothes.

It just never ends. I've got it down fairly decent, as far as knowing what my laser wants to see. Believe me, what it wants isn't what looks good on the screen. The laser likes a really flat, dull looking image. High contrast photos just end up blowing the lights out or skipping all the dark areas. If you can create a really flat, boring looking photo that just looks "wrong", then you're probably really close. You don't want any solid blacks or whites, in my opinion, but then again, in certain circumstances you might want them.

We might be able to help with a higher resolution photo. I can't bring the black back because it's not enough detail. I did see the man is wearing a plaid shirt, which would be nice to bring out, as the details would show up, but I can't get it back because the image is too small.

Bill Stearns
06-22-2014, 6:56 PM
Hi All -
I have tried engraving mirrors, once - decided to let it go. Don't need the worries of ruining a customer's prized mirror. As for engraving photographs, I wouldn't dream of by-passing this very profitable category. I've learned 'few tricks. I no longer turn 'way photos with pure white dresses, or shirts, etc. Using Photoshop's (CS5) "quick selection" tool I am able to pick out specific areas of a photo I want' a work with - without having to trace 'round the area click by click. (EX: a wedding dress.) Took 'little practice, but what' a time saver! Then, I turn the pure white dress to a vivid color, like bright pink, or green; darkening or lightening as needed. (How? Using Photoshop menu > Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Color Balance.) The pink, or green, seems to engrave nicely, where as pure white wouldn't. Also: have learned to use PS's "smart sharpen" tool ('stead of reg. sharpen) to bring out folds, and creases in white, or light, clothing.) As for dark, or black, pants (ex) I follow the same procedure - change color - lighten the best I can; doesn't always help - but, sometimes. Black is black! (Thank heavens for YouTube training videos, uh?)

Bill

Scott Shepherd
06-22-2014, 7:07 PM
I wouldn't dream of by-passing this very profitable category.

I'd like to know your definition of "very profitable". Give me an example on what size on what product and the price you'd charge for it. I've had VERY few people ever bring me a digital photo. It's almost always a 3" x 5" or 4" x 6" photograph from 1970 era. I can't scan it in, blow it up, edit it, engrave a test on the specific material they want (every material is different) and then engrave them image in less than 1 hour, and I've yet to find anyone willing to pay $90 for an engraved photograph, so I'm curious on what you consider very profitable.

Bill Stearns
06-22-2014, 7:37 PM
SCOTT -
Okay - here's one example. (I'll share with you - just hoping your business isn't near mine.) I engrave photos into bark-trimmed plaques which cost me 'bout $3.50 ea. I sell the completed plaque for $49.95 - believe that to be a 92% gross profit margin? (generally takes me 'bout 30 minutes, or so, to work on the photo.) Also, I do photos on Alder plaques, granite, etc. at the same general margin. Don't know what you mean by "in less than an hour"? - my customers are expecting "weeks"; surprised when they get my call a day, or two, later. Also: don't understand the trouble you have "scanning/enlarging" customers' photos? - sounds like you just hate doing photos at all. ? And the "1970's" issue? well, guess that's just 'matter of your skills with your photo-program. ? If I can help you in some way, I sure will. (I'll try to post 'picture of one of my plaques.)

Bill

Scott Shepherd
06-22-2014, 8:23 PM
That looks great Bill! My issue isn't with scanning and enlarging, it's with the time it takes to manage the whole process from the customer bringing in an old photo and then having to get it ready. I don't have pre made blanks ready to be engraved. So a customer will bring in something, normally with a piece of wood and say "I want this photo on this piece of wood". Believe it or not, I actually get that a fair amount. It's normally the worst wood possible for photos, wood with lots of grain, etc. It's always a small photo and they often want it larger than the photo, which means it has to be resampled and the color fixed. Then I have to find some scrap of some wood that's close so I can run a sample to get the power right for that material,etc. Once that's all done, I've easily got 1 hour in the job and most of these people are expecting a $30 bill, not a $90 bill. They seem to be a lot of woodworkers that are making keepsake or jewelry boxes and telling them they owe you $90 for something they are making for someone for a gift doesn't go over too well.

I suspect if we did the same blanks over and over, we'd have it all dialed in.

I'm not a photoshop guru by any means and PS gives me an ice cream headache more than I care to admit. I use it for some things quite successfully, but it's a monster of a program. Sounds like you're in the right market for that type of product. Your customers are very different than my customers, that's for sure.

Bill George
06-22-2014, 8:24 PM
Bill what Scott is saying, the amount of time involved prepping the photo isn't worth the return. It would be fine for a hobbyist like me but for someone trying keep the bottom line looking good, not so much.

Dan Hintz
06-23-2014, 6:09 AM
SCOTT -
Okay - here's one example. (I'll share with you - just hoping your business isn't near mine.) I engrave photos into bark-trimmed plaques which cost me 'bout $3.50 ea. I sell the completed plaque for $49.95 - believe that to be a 92% gross profit margin? (generally takes me 'bout 30 minutes, or so, to work on the photo.) Also, I do photos on Alder plaques, granite, etc. at the same general margin. Don't know what you mean by "in less than an hour"? - my customers are expecting "weeks"; surprised when they get my call a day, or two, later. Also: don't understand the trouble you have "scanning/enlarging" customers' photos? - sounds like you just hate doing photos at all. ? And the "1970's" issue? well, guess that's just 'matter of your skills with your photo-program. ? If I can help you in some way, I sure will. (I'll try to post 'picture of one of my plaques.)

Bill

Some people can make this work for them, particularly if photo editing is a large part of their business (muscle memory being what it is). But I always question how long people think they spend working on an item versus the time they actually spend working on it.

From the moment you pick up the phone, receive an email, or smile as they walk through the door, the clock has started. You dink around with the person for 10-15 minutes getting a feel for how they want things done. You kill 5 minutes on small talk when they come to pick it up, or package up their item for shipping. And you see where this list is going. What people imagine is 45 minutes actually turns into 1.5 hours after everything is truly clocked, similar to the people who swear they only ate 800 calories at that last meal, but adding up all of the little things (like dressing on the salad, gravy on the steak, etc.) shows they actually had closer to 1,200 calories. You don't recognize it until someone points it out or you're forced to pay specific attention to it.

Bill Stearns
06-23-2014, 12:28 PM
SCOTT - DAN
I mostly stick with my (stocked) bark-trimmed planks - 'though people do periodically bring in their own wood. I have to turn down jobs 'cause of size, or grain etc. Still, when you need sales much as I do, I first look for solutions! i.e. A local craftsman was hired to produce dozens of cutting boards made from Tamarac - wanted his customer's logo engraved. Tamarac too grained for regular text - I used the 3-D engraving idea. (boxing the logo; the logo standing out.) - on the display side, of course. (bless those people who think of what I do as "wood burning".)

As for the "actual amount of time" we invest in meeting customer's needs? - for sure, time management is key! Things like "packing/shipping" can be incorporated into our pricing. "Dinking 'round understanding a customer's needs", well, not so much. What business isn't faced with this? (Ok - maybe, a mortician?) Just once, would like to see someone try to impose a "chit-chat fee". Me? I consider chit-chat as an opportunity to "bond" with my customer. Heck, I'm not a McDonald's drive-thru. (Still, Dan - you're right! - we definitely have to watch ourselves - time spent.)

One thing I've learned: those wood craftsmen who bring in items for engraving - wanting a "sample" engraved - saying they're gonna be producing, and selling, hundreds! - I don't fall for this anymore! I charge what I need up front; offering to deduct their "sample" cost from their follow up orders of hundreds. (rarely to I see 'em again; okay with me.)

Have 'great day, guys! (and gals.)

Bill

Bill Cunningham
07-01-2014, 4:37 PM
I charge on average $1.20 per sq. Inch, and in the case of 3mm Baltic birch, glass or mirror, that price includes the substrate. Some products require an additional $25.00 minimum photo conversion charge depending on the quality of photo I receive from the customer. Photos are my favorite thing to engrave/etch and I rarely have a customer balk at the price. If they do, they really can't afford my work anyway. I would rather turn a job down cold, than work from a poor quality customer supplied photo that I know is going to look bad to me, even if the customer likes it. I'm my own worst critic, and my name is on the back so they, and anyone else that see's it knows who did it.

Chuck Stone
07-01-2014, 8:40 PM
I love doing the mirrors. I don't use anything but Photoshop for image prep, and Corel
for output. (invert, convert to 1 bit bitmap using Jarvis, adjust the levels as needed)
But I've been in Photoshop for years, so something like this is pretty straightforward
for me. I get a 2 pack of mirrors for $10 and get $45 for engraving one. I rarely spend
more than about 10 minutes editing, and that's usually putting a border around someone
to set them apart from a background or maybe adding some texture to something that
would just look too plain if I left it alone.
The biggest drawback for me is the inconsistency of the mirror backing. You might have
to run a second pass to clean up 'stuff' left on the glass.. even though the other mirror
in the same package came out perfectly fine..

Isaac Clarke
07-13-2014, 5:03 PM
I love doing mirrors, they cheap and great to work with:

292966

They cost me 1 each.

Michele Welch
07-13-2014, 9:27 PM
Dang y'all, I'm just so jealous. I've tried numerous different photos on mirrors and wood and just don't get anything but crappy output. I've read so much my eyes are batty and nothing seems to work. I am assuming some of it is the way I'm processing the image and the fact that I don't have a high quality laser and it just isn't giving me the results I expect. But I so enjoy reading all of your advice and pictures of finished products. I'm not Corel based, which seems to be part of my problem, but I just don't see the cost advantage to moving to Corel just for photos when Illustrator works well for everything else and I already own it and know it.

Keep the advice coming and forgive my stupidity if I ask the same questions over again. :)

Isaac Clarke
07-14-2014, 4:31 AM
Dang y'all, I'm just so jealous. I've tried numerous different photos on mirrors and wood and just don't get anything but crappy output. I've read so much my eyes are batty and nothing seems to work. I am assuming some of it is the way I'm processing the image and the fact that I don't have a high quality laser and it just isn't giving me the results I expect. But I so enjoy reading all of your advice and pictures of finished products. I'm not Corel based, which seems to be part of my problem, but I just don't see the cost advantage to moving to Corel just for photos when Illustrator works well for everything else and I already own it and know it.

Keep the advice coming and forgive my stupidity if I ask the same questions over again. :)


I use photoshop, nothing else :)

Chuck Stone
07-14-2014, 10:38 AM
You can do it with Photoshop only, I just prefer the dithering options in
Corel to the sucky ones in Photoshop.

AL Ursich
07-14-2014, 1:15 PM
Another thinking outside the box is to convert the photo in a program that makes the photo into line art and engrave that...

Great Lakes NTC 1985

Chuck Stone
07-15-2014, 8:53 AM
AL.. I'll sometimes use Akvis Sketch for those photos that just aren't going
to look right as a photo. While the brain might not be forgiving of errors in
a photo, it may 'relax the rules' when looking at a charcoal sketch or a
pencil drawing. Some of the 'cutline' filters work well for that too.. making
the image look like a woodcut.
Especially helpful with out of focus pics, or when someone wants a large
engraving from a thumbnail sized digital image that just isn't going to hold
up.