Deep engraving pictures on wood

Total newbie here. I am going to get a laser cutter / engraver by next Christmas for sure. I’ll make sure I’ll be good for sure :slight_smile: But in the mean time I would like some more information on what and how to do certain things. I thing I want to do is those deep engraving on wood. I came across some designs I would buy and make when I get my machine. A person showed a picture of their engraving. They thought it was good but hate to said I didn’t. The cuts were not deep enough. This got me thinking on how to engrave with lightburn works. Since I have never used this product before I don’t have a clue and I don’t have any place or know anyone in my area to go to. Just what I have read, youtube and this forum of course :slight_smile:
I was thinking too. Maybe you cut in layers? 1/4" wood do the background then then the next level and so on?

Could someone please tell me if the software Lightburn have a setting to burn/cut deeper or shallow when needed? I assume you can adjust it in the software (lightburn) or do I need to buy a better lightburn to do this? Or do I have it all wrong? I don’t want to buy something that I am not going to be able to do the things I want with it.

Someone a long time ago told never to assume anything and I have over the year found this saying to be so true. This is why I’m asking. I would so much appreciate anyone help on this. Thank You! :grinning:
below the tree is what I would like to make and the pumpkin is the one I thought was too shallow. I just thought it doesn’t have the definition I would like.
![engraved christmas tree I like|
engraved christmas tree I like
to shallow

Many of these are made by layering multiple graphics in a stack. Your first image appears to be of this type of work.

I just googled it and this is just an example of what can be done with layers.

Engraving the depth of the first image, probably isn’t going to happen. For multiple reasons… That would be more like a milling machine type engraver.

The second image or something near it is probably possible, but there is no color except for the materials with lasers…

Generally speaking, photographs are about the most tough project to get right… so it takes time and patience. Might want to watch a video like this one from Laser Everything for photo engraving, it’s one of the best. I usually recommend it for anyone that doesn’t really understand how to get the right interval when using a laser… It’s done with a fiber the technique works with any laser and any material.

There is really no difference, a engraved line is the same as a cut line if it’s deep enough. This is controlled by the speed/power settings within Lightburn.

The problem with going deeper is that it takes much more time burning and easily burns up areas you don’t intend.

You only mentioned the Ruida, so I suspect you are looking at a co2. The only real option for 3d type engraving is the grayscale in Lightburn, which works fine, but is very sensitive to settings and material.

Here is a thread you can look at…

Good luck


That may have been assembled from laser-cut components, but it’s definitely not a one-shot laser engraving.

In particular, a laser doesn’t produce nice smooth surfaces (like those stars) while engraving, because it’s basically incinerating the material, not shaving it off in thin layers.

That’s more typical of what you’ll see in laser-engraved / -carved projects: relatively rough surfaces and gritty resolution.

Deep engraving requires vaporizing a large amount of material, which requires either lots of power (CO₂ laser = spendy & fast) or lots of time (diode laser = cheap & slow). The material determines the resolution and appearance of the result, as well as how much cleanup you’ll be doing to make the thing look presentable.

In any case, the laser will require lots of ventilation, so if you have neighbors who might object to a dumpster fire next door, deep engraving may not be the right pastime / business for you.

LightBurn is the program you use to control the machine, so it’s largely independent of the laser hardware. You tell it how fast to go and how much power to apply, whereupon it does what you told it to do. Whether that produces the result you want, well, that’s what they mean when they talk about a “learning curve”.

You may want to read through the introductory parts of the LightBurn doc, including the sample projects, to get an idea of what’s going on and the vocabulary describing it:

Aaaand there’s a whole Youtube channel if you prefer video:


Your Christmas Tree image is of an STL file. Most often used for 3D Printing of objects/images. I often convert an STL file to a PNG file and develop an image that is actually a 3D Illusion.

I also do some images with Grayscale. If the original image has been pencil drawn for instance and shaded to show different levels in the image, making it appear 3D, you can use such images with a CO2 laser and oftentimes doing very little Photo Shop work to get an excellent rendering.

This is an image I engraved from a pencil drawing. My wife painted it with acrylics intended for wood. The engraving is on 3mm maple ply with MDF core.
I engrave these using “pass-through” on LightBurn. No conversion to Greyscale needed. I also convert the images to Black & White before going to LB. LB doesn’t seem to alter the image when loading since it automatically converts a color image to grayscale.

Read and try to understand what you read BUT, nothing comes close to having your very own laser to experiment with. BTW: You will be doing lots of experimenting and burn up a lot of wood before getting what you really wish to achieve.

Think about a year from this coming Christmas for doing excellent work.

Not much I can add to this thread. Just read what they provided and be aware lasers are not so much Plug And a lot of Play. Even if you do not make that first image thing, buy yourself one for Christmas and start having fun!

Plug and Pray :face_with_spiral_eyes:


1 Like

I stand corrected!

That tree picture is not deeply engraved nor is it a picture of a finished product. It’s an illusion created by the different shadings/ gradations. It’s fairly commonly done. Here’s the Etsy site where the file is from. Note on the top right, under the price, that it states it’s a 3D illusion.
Here’s a pic of one I did a while back …This is totally flat, just looks like it has depth.

While I can understand that you would like to engrave projects like the Christmas tree you showed, I’m afraid that type of deep and contoured engraving is not a realistic expectation for a laser engraver. Those types of projects are typically done on CNC machines. They use some of the same software to control them but they have the ability to move on the “z” axis. Lasers only have the ability to move in the “x” and “y” axis (left-to-right and front-to-back) the “z” axis lets the CNC machine move vertically as well. That being said, lasers cutting and engraving is a very satifying craft. Especially as you begin to learn the creeative ways they can be applied. Lightburn Software is, in my opinion, one of the best tools you can use to learn all of the different things you can do with a simple laser engraving machine. Good luck

Thank You so very much. I do appreciate you spending your time on me! And thank you for all the links also. They are coming in very handy for me to understand more. These picture I upload were for designs you can buy and there are in svg and some other laser format. So they are designed for cutting.burning already. I have never done or seen a actual laser at work. I have watch some on youtube. I know i will easier once I have the machine in front of me. I thought I would fine the things I want to do so I know what machine I have to buy. I thought this way I won’t buy something use a couple then regret ever buying it.

Wow that’s nice work. I’m not that talented :slight_smile: You have a good team there :slight_smile: upir wife can draw and you can design in on the software and know how to bring it out. These picture I got are for laser and are suppose to be ready to use like svg and many other laser formats. I have been looking at these for some time now and I am at the need it and I have it have stage :slight_smile: Thanks You for posting I Think it’s great information!

Really… I look so good and with a lot of definition. You could of fooled me. What about layering the pieces together to get the same effect. Can that be done also to get the definition I wonder? I guess I was thinking this machine makes miracles lol. In a way it still does :slight_smile: Thank You for your input I did not know that. I knew there is a learn curve to it. I guess it’s like a musical instrument. I you take time to learn the in’s an out’s you can make beautiful things happen.

Thank You!! Ok So I need a CNC machine. They have some cheapy ones at amazon. And they go up from there. Everywhere I have read they always say Lightburn So I thought if most people say they use it. It should be good :slight_smile: Got to start somewhere. Every time I think I know something about laser cutting it couldn’t be further from the truth. lol Decision, decision… But Yes I want the CNC machine. It’s a learning curve just to buy one let alone use one. :slight_smile: Thank you so much for you input. much appreciated!!

Gail , if you spend some time looking through this group and other FB laser groups you can find examples of multi layered projects but I’ve never seen one looking like that picture (which is just a computer rendering, not a finished product). You can usually see steps in the design, one for each layer. They’re quite a bit of work but can end up looking quite good, but not like that picture. A cnc router could do something like that but that’s an entirely different machine. I’m guessing you’re thinking of getting a diode laser, which are very capable of engraving 3D illiusion images but the engraving won’t be in color though you could paint them after the engraving. If you’re new at all this start small and simple until you gain a better understanding of how things work and what can (and can’t) be done.

Gail. I have a small CNC router as well as three lasers, two diode machines and one fiber laser for engraving metals and stone. I use Lightburn for all the lasers but so far there is no version for CNCs. I’ve seen quite a few people hoping it will happen some day. For a CNC you’ll have to use much different software, the good ones (like the Vectric software) can be quite expensive.

Thank you Good advice :slight_smile: But now looking at the CNC machine is the the one I would like. I When I saw the engraving art you can do even if I don’t get that intricate I know I will fall in love with it. So many possibilities. from inlay on furniture to small things like doll house items. Dreaming about it is easier lol. Ok! Thank you a whole bunch and I have some deciding to do here :slight_smile:

@Gailkw two software packages the CNC, both free, I have been considering are Carbide Create (EXE) and Kiri:Moto (Web based).

You might consider one of those 3018 Pro type machines (30mm x 18mm, they make them larger too) where the spindle motor can be replaced with a laser (I think you can get a 10w module). It is a bit of a hassle, but a good option for your first machine.

You are aware of MillMage? Lightburn addition to 3d machine support.

It’s in beta now… they need beta testers? If you have one, send support a note about what you have.


If you are thinking of a CNC machine it might be a good idea to find someone locally that you can talk to and observe how it works before making a significant investment. Both lasers and CNC routers are great tools but each have their challenges and limitations to work with. Each also have an enormous range of choices available in terms of size, power, safety and cost.

In general, CNCs can produce deep, beautiful, carvings but they can be incredibly noisy, generate huge amounts of sawdust, and are slower than many people would expect. The dragon box lid insert in the attached photo took multiple passes and hours to carve.

Worth the effort but definitely not a quick process.

This topic was automatically closed 30 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.