I have developed a process for achieving a realistic black and white photo image onto wood despite the fact that the preview screen does not correlate at all with the results.
- Pick a material (In my case, I have used a 3 mm thick plywood available at Joann’s hobby store.)
- Download a grayscale image and use it to calibrate the laser speed, power, dot density and image type to achieve a look on the wood that closely matches the grayscale image. Try to get the black so it is not burning too dark or deep and the light should blend to no image at all on the opposite end. See sample photo. (NOTE: You cannot trust the preview screen at all. See example photo of what the preview screen showed compared to the results. The preview screen does not provide the same results for different image sizes, despite using the same laser settings for all. See example photo of an image printed at 3 different sizes at the same settings.
- Import the image into the Lightburn software. Right click on the image and select “adjust image”
Use the contrast, brightness and gamma adjustments so that the darkest part of the image is black and the whitest is white. I have not come up with a closed form process for doing that yet. Too much brightness or contrast can result in undesirable effects on the screen, so I avoid going too far with any one adjustment.
- Using the settings identified with the grayscale image for that material, print your photo image at a smaller scale than the final one but large enough to see any interesting detail. You may have to tweak the photo or the power slightly to get this burn to look good. Once you are satisfied, print at the full size.
I wish the developers could make the preview screen more useful by allowing some sort of calibration with a grayscale image and actual burn. Also, the preview results should NOT change when you change the size of the image to be printed. Yes the dot density may affect the overall appearance somewhat but the same speed, power and density over a square mm of area should be the same regardless of image size.