Tips for Choosing a Photo for Engraving on a Headstone

Written by
Kyle Sherman
Published on
May 27, 2022 at 8:00:00 AM PDT May 27, 2022 at 8:00:00 AM PDTth, May 27, 2022 at 8:00:00 AM PDT

Memorial markers are a timeless remembrance of loved ones and family pets who have touched our lives.

The original photo is roughly 14″ x 9.5″ at 300 dpi, straight from the camera and unaltered. There is some light/dark contrast and no one extreme area. The line art example on black granite has a lot of visible fur texture. Line art is used on photos less than 4 inches. The halftone example on black granite looks more like a photo than the line art, with more contrast and feature definition. Halftone filters can only be used on photos at least 4 inches.

Modern headstones not only pay tribute with beautiful verse or words, they can create a lasting memory with cherished photographic engravings. To help with personalizing your memorial design, PlaqueMaker senior graphic designer Pauline Mauer shares a few tips when choosing an image for engraving on a custom headstone:

The best images for headstones are clean (not fuzzy or pixelated), high resolution artwork. Usually, it is best to use an image directly from a camera.

● Use pictures that are even-toned with no areas of extreme contrast.

● Do not use a picture of a person wearing sunglasses or with their eyes closed, unless you’d like to see the person as they appear in the picture. We are unable to alter these images or “draw in eyes,” for instance.

To use a non-digital photograph, computer scan it at 300 dpi, or mail the photograph to us and we will scan it at our shop at high resolution.

We do not recommend taking a picture of a framed photograph or using a small picture that has been printed on a memorial card or pamphlet. These images have already been processed, are blurry, very small or have little detail, which makes it difficult to get the engraving to look like the person or pet.

● We recommend that you let us crop the photo, if needed. It is always better to send us the complete photograph, rather than you try to crop it down. We do appreciate suggestions and will take them into consideration when we crop the picture. Usually we try to focus on the head, neck and shoulders; however we do use full body pictures or the entire picture, if you prefer.

● When working with photos for headstones, we use a variety of filters that help with achieving the best result for engraving. On larger items where the image will be at least four inches, we’ll use a halftone filter to convert the image into little boxes, which allows for more detail. On smaller items where the image will be less than four inches, we’ll use a line-art filter such as Photocopy, which allows the most detail in the image without running the risk of over-engraving.

● If you have a number of photos and are unsure which one will give the best result, we encourage you to email or mail all of your top choices to us. We can run them through our filters and help determine which will look the best when engraved.

If you are unhappy with how a proof looks for any reason, whether it is the layout, a grammatical error or the way the image has translated, we highly encourage you to contact us, explaining your concerns so we can make the proper revisions and get you a revised proof as soon as possible.