Do’s & Don’ts of Image Selection

Written by
Kyle Sherman
Published on
October 23, 2021 at 8:00:00 AM PDT October 23, 2021 at 8:00:00 AM PDTrd, October 23, 2021 at 8:00:00 AM PDT
How to tell if the lighting in a photo is right for a laser engraved item. The picture on the left has several extremely bright areas with little to no detail. The end result will be less successful than using the picture on the right, which has little contrast between the light areas and dark areas and full detail on the face.

From photos to artwork, pictures to graphic elements such as a logo or clipart, an equally wide range of design factors influences the beauty of your creation.

At PlaqueMaker, you are your own designer! You make all sorts of creative choices when it comes to creating a personalized custom plaque or gift. This doesn’t mean you’re totally on your own, though. To help you customize your designs, we’ve put together a few do’s and don’ts:

This image shows what to expect when you use a 3D logo for a laser engraved item. On the left is the original logo. The right side shows what happens to the 3D image once it is filtered and cleaned up for laser engraving. This image also shows how a logo is turned into a line art/ engrave-able image.


● Do choose a logo or graphic for a laser engraving that has no gradients or 3D rendering.

● Do use a straight-from-a-digital-camera .jpg for pictures, which are large enough to size the picture into the design without losing quality.

● Do scan an image such as a photo or newspaper in full color. Most scanning programs allow you to select a resolution, so make sure the setting is at least 300 dpi.

● Do email logos and other graphic images as high resolution .jpgs or vector art: .eps, .pdf or .ai files, which are optimal.

● Do realize that removing unwanted details from a photo that already exist, or adding details that are absent, are things we cannot do, to produce a good result.


● Don’t use scans of graphics that are already printed on patches, pins, paper or shirts.

● Don’t choose a picture for full color printing that is fuzzy, blurry or pixilated. Provide a clean, in-focus image in as large a format as possible; at least 300 dpi. This way, if we need to enlarge it for the layout, it will hold its quality.

● Don’t choose a photo for an engraved item that contains high contrast areas with shadows and highlights on the main subject of the photo.

Not Clean vs. Clean logo. Both images are at 300 dpi, but the left side is more pixilated than the right. This jaggedness of the image will be visible on the final product, whether printed or engraved.

What to Look for on Your Digital Proof

For every PlaqueMaker design job, you’ll receive a free digital proof by email the next business day. It gives you a quick look at what the final product will look like. Proofs are generally not to size, meaning if you order a one-inch by one-inch tag, we will enlarge the proof image, so it is easier to check. Or, if you order a 48-inch x 24-inch sign, we will decrease the size of the proof to see the sign in its entirety on a computer screen. When checking your proof, focus mainly on the layout of the wording, copy or message and the art, picture or logo. Always double check spelling and grammar, because we do not proofread wording submitted on order forms. Keep in mind that all computers and monitors are calibrated differently. The color of a proof will likely look different when viewing it on different devices.