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Frequently Asked Questions

How are the Photographic Carvings made?

- The photo is scanned into the computer and, using a photo retouching program, it is "cleaned up".  shiny or bright areas (eyes, teeth, and jewelry) are toned down.  Photographic blemishes are removed.  A shirt or collar may be darkened to de-emphasize it.
- To enhance and highlight a portrait, the background is blacked out.
- For framing purposes, a 1/2" black border is also added to the portrait.
- The image is then run through an analyzer, calculates the cutting depths, and generates the CNC program.  A shallow cut for light colors ... a deeper cut for dark colors.
- A block of wood is locked into position on the machine, and the image is cut.
- The carving is trimmed and some manual cleanup is done.

What type of picture makes a good carving?

A "head" shot.  - A photograph of a person standing in the woods will likely have too much clutter to create a good carving. Small details get lost in carvings.  It is best to isolate the subject and make it as large as possible.

An image with good definition.  - If the image is uniform in color, and has very little definition, sections of the carving may blend together.  For example, if you have a subject with black hair, positioned against a black background, it is difficult hard for the computer to differentiate between the hair and the background, and both will be cut about the same depth.  By the same token, a person with "fly-away" blond hair on a white background will be difficult to carve because it will be virtually impossible to cleanup the background. Although random spots on the image will create a "pit" or "bump" in the carving, typically, most can be retouched.

Though definitely not required, a professional photograph taken against a solid background, will generally produce the best carving.  This is because a professional photographer tends to isolate his subjects, use uniform backgrounds, has his subject well lit, and takes a sharp, high resolution image.

The original image can be either color or black & white. The computer will convert a color image to black & white, then assign a cutting depth to how dark that portion of the picture is.  The darker the color ... the deeper the cut.

The program does not require a high resolution image, however, a digital image with a resolution of at least 200 dpi. will produce the best results.

How are the Mirror Etchings made?

- Using existing line-art and true-type lettering, a drawing is created in a CAD program.  A great source of vector based graphics are true-type dingbat fonts.
- A mirror etching can also be created from a photograph.  In the case of a photograph, software is used to scan the image for "edges", then convert it into line art.
- It is also possible for us to scan in a drawing and convert it to line art - however, the drawing should have a "hand drawn" or line art appearance.  For example a sketch or a charactature works best.
- Keep in mind that true-type fonts are "outline" fonts ... so only the outside edges of the fonts are used. This will be true of most line art that is scanned and converted.
- The drawing is scaled to size and imported into a Computer Aided Machining (CAM) program.
- The CAM program generates the CNC program
- A plastic mirror is locked into position on the machine, and the image is cut.
- The etching is trimmed and some manual cleanup is done.