How-ToLaser Engraving InstituteMaterialsThe Laser Engraving InstituteVideos

Photo Characteristics and Interpretation

with the legendary Marc Stipo

I get asked this all the time. “How come you’re pictures come out so good and mine don’t?”  Because of really hard work, and lots of trial and error.  However, after tons of scrap, I started to put logic to it, and I started conducting tests.  What did I find out?  A LOT!!  So let me show you what I found out.

Q: What makes a good photograph?

A: Resolution


Q: Doesn’t a higher resolution photograph mean a better engrave?



Dots per Inch (DPI) = Pixels per Inch (PPI)


Digitally Fuzzy = Crummy Engrave



Too much detail can muddy the engrave

Too little detail is not such a bad thing as long as you have balance



A photograph that has good balance.



Details that can be readily interpreted without thinking about it:

  • It’s crisp
  • It’s defined
  • It pops


These are just the notes I made while lecturing in the class. From these basic concepts, you should now be able to look at a photo and begin to be able to see what I meant by resolution, detail, and balance.


Here is just a quick review:


A good engrave starts here

Just because a photo has a high resolution doesn’t mean it will engrave well. A good photo has three main areas to it:

  1. Decent resolution
  2. Good detail
  3. Balance is key

If you have all three of these aspects you will get a good engrave. Just because a photo has decent resolution, it could still be digitally fuzzy. Go to to look at pictures and practice choosing those that you feel will engrave well, and what won’t.

Related Articles