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dimensional engraving

There are basically three different techniques in use by sub-surface engraving houses, each of which vary in their approach but all fall into similar categories.   Regardless, of the technique the palette is the same – white or shades of white <why>.

Another important thing to know is the objects in the design will rarely ever look like a solid white object because they cast no shadow on themselves.  With white being the primary “color” and no ability for shadows to enforce contours, the designer should have a working knowledge of negative space, spatial juxtaposition and a basic understanding of good design.

3d modeling

A scene, logo, or product is designed completely in 3D cad system – ideally, different components may have differing shades of white.  This approach works well with simple shapes that are easily identifiable for the viewer.  Complex shapes create numerous overlapping surfaces which confuse the viewer with dense white regions and hide the actual shape. <show me> Best used sparingly by a designer that understands “less is more” for a better result – cad file drops from the client rarely provide satisfactory results out of the box.

2d bitmap

One of the most common methods of laser engraving for both sub-surface and surface engravers.  Images are converted into a “halftone” which is a pattern of dots spaced to evoke a sense of tone across the varying intensity of the image.  The brighter (whiter) the area, the closer the dots are placed to one another.   Less dense areas appear less bright creating tonal changes in the image.  Look at newspaper print of an image – same idea – different medium.  This approach works well with photographs that have good contrast in them as well as single or two color logos or text.  There is some size limitations though since images, symbols and text need enough dots to be recognizable.

2.5d bitmap

This is an interesting approach which combines the advantages of 2D bitmaps and some of the dimensionality of 3D modeling.  This techniques builds as many as seven to eight layers of points over one another to create a whiter “white” than is available with the basic 2D approach.  This approach works really well with logos and a certain amount of text – photographs of heads are commonly done but we feel they look “spiky” when viewed from subtle angles and suddenly loose the visual effect desired.

what do we use

Actually, we use all of the above techniques just a bit differently.  Sometimes we mix techniques with the laser and with traditional engraving – other times, one or two is all that’s needed.  Some of these variations include proprietary halftone techniques, dimensional texturing or even digitally redrawing on a tablet.

Regardless, we always show you the technique and how it can be best presented for your needs before it is ever engraved.