Filter to preview result of laser-engraving of photo

I often engrave different photos as souvenirs on the laser cutter. I use LaserCut Pro 5.3 with the Tools > Half Bmitmap (sic) to convert a JPEG to a black-and-white bitmap.

Photos close to black-and-white have the best result. For example, this photo is a clear bi-modal photo with highlights and shadows.

Photo with highlights and shadows
Engraving with highlights and shadows

For grayscale pictures with midtones, the result is often pure white versus the rest. For example, this photo of a rabbit gets white only in the tree branches.

Photo with midtones
Engraving with midtones

For such grayscale photos, I tried doing luminosity and levels masks and found no procedure that works for all photos. I engrave photos only once and I am happy to adjust each photo manually, but I want to avoid the trial-and-error of trying different masks and waiting 15 minutes for the result of each.

Can I apply a filter to an image and see what it will look like when engraved, so I can easily try different masks on different photos?

Answer

The question may be more suited to a laser related forum, as the answer lies with the characteristics of the laser more than with the graphics program. My experience with my laser is that one has to change settings for the laser power as well as adjust an image to create an appropriately contrast within the image. My laser software (LightBurn) also allows for line spacing as the laser travels across the image. For bitmap images and the specific software you are using, there will be a combination that will give you results you require, but it’s mostly trial and error (and bracketing) to determine that combination.

Additionally, changing from one material to another will completely change the results, requiring another settings change and or bracketing to determine the best results.

A different approach, however, is to crop the desired image to a much smaller segment (don’t resize!). Use a suitably representative segment containing as wide a range of shading as possible. Burn the segment on a test piece in various locations with varying settings. If an entire image takes fifteen minutes, a tenth-sized piece will take only a couple. Creating that segment with ten different settings gives you ten results in the original fifteen minutes (your times will vary) and allow you to attack the specific image.

If you burn one image only, this may seem excessive, but it is a necessary aspect of using a laser to create bitmap images.

Attribution
Source : Link , Question Author : miguelmorin , Answer Author : fred_dot_u

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