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Engraving Image

engraving imageThinking about engraving an image onto a plaque or gift item? Read about some of the options available, and how to get the best result possible.

Engraving images into surfaces is an age-old practice, and one of the few artistic endeavors that still endures today. As far back as early Sumerian civilizations to modern art masterpieces, artists and artisans alike have take pride in crafting fine works art through a wide range of different engraving processes.

Many people often think that engraving and image is about etching or chiseling metal or stone. While some great works or art have been achieved through chiseling, the most popular modern adaptation of image engraving became the lithograph. The lithograph approach to engraving actually used a chemical process to eat away at the surface that was to be engraved, with a series of plates protecting the parts of the surface that were to remain untouched. The result is a beautiful engraving in relief that makes lithographs classic engraved image works.

As you can see from the lithograph of an early 19th century lithograph of Hyde Park in London, the detail that can achieved through lithograph is stunning.

Engraving Image Techniques in the Modern Era

There is one major drawback to lithography and chemical engraving -- it takes a true artist to render a print that is photo-like in its quality. While virtually anyone could learn the craft of plating and applying the necessary corrosive chemicals, it takes a professional artist with a lifetime of learned techniques to create an image like the one rendered above. And works of art such as that one take copious amounts of time to complete.

Fortunately, modernity has led to a new engraving image technique: laser engraving.

Laser engraving can achieve even more accurate photo-realistic images, since the laser beam is guided by computer precision, with the computer working off of the digital data from a digitized scan. However, it is not just the computer that makes the difference; the laser beam works quite differently from the chemical approach to engraving.

With chemical etching and engraving, chemicals melt off sections of the plaque surface. With laser engraving, the surface is burned or evaporated off, depending on which kind of surface you use. Also, the laser can be fine attenuated to be either thick or thin, allowing for broad strokes or thin hatching lines. This is what leads to such a fine rendering.

It's important to note that the variable in engraving images with laser engraving technologies is the surface material you choose. All of them have their pros and cons, but it's best to remember these quick points:

  • Wood surfaces are essentially burned away, much like the use of a wood burning iron -- only with much more precision and efficiency. This means that there is a kind of "burn halo" that shadows each line, no matter how thin the lines are.
  • Stone surfaces -- particularly granite -- work wonderfully with laser engraving. The stone actually fractures when being evaporated by the laser, and these fractures soften the lines a bit.
  • Plastic and acrylic surfaces are prepared in a somewhat similar manner to lithography, with a waxy protective surface applied to the entire surface, and lines being crafted by lasering through the surface.

If you're ready to engrave an image into a gift or plaque, be sure to browse Laser engraved Memories' wide range of engraved products today!

By Michael Nace