Upload and Engrave a Photo




Engraving photos is one of the coolest things you can do with your Glowforge. 


In this project, you’ll learn about: 

  • Uploading your own files to the Glowforge App 
  • Changing the size and orientation of your design in the Workspace
  • The Create Outline tool
  • Using the Adjustments tool to fine tune photographs for engraving
  • Choosing your material manually using the material selection menu
  • Arranging the different steps of your print

These instructions were written for the Glowforge Aura, but you can apply the same basics using your Glowforge Performance Series printer to bring this project to life.


  1. Prepare your material
    Photo engraves really pop on wood material with a lighter finish, so for this project we’ll be using a sheet of Proofgrade Light Maple Plywood.

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    You can engrave a photo on this sheet of material as is - our Proofgrade material settings have been tested to produce great results with the masking. For this print, though, we’ve removed the top layer of masking from the material. This can really make the finer details stand out.

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    Screenshot 2023-07-24 at 4.13.07 PM.png

  2. Upload your photo

    In your web browser, navigate to app.glowforge.com and sign in.

    On your Dashboard, click “Create a New Design” in the top left hand corner.

    Screenshot 2023-07-24 at 4.13.15 PM.png

    Then click “Upload a File.”

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    Choose a photo file that you want to engrave in one of the following file formats: .jpg, .png, .svg, .pdf, or .dxf.

  3. Prepare your Photo

    Once your photo uploads, it will load in the Glowforge App Workspace. Here, you can use tools to fine tune it for printing, resize it, rotate it, and more!

    Click on your photo, and then click on the “Adjust Artwork” button.

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    Good quality photos with high contrast produce the best engraves, so let’s make an adjustment to the contrast.

    With “Tune” selected on the left sidebar and “Contrast” selected at the bottom, increase the contrast using the slider beneath the photo. 

    Screenshot 2023-07-24 at 4.13.46 PM.png

    Click “Apply changes,” and your photo will update with a new look.

    You can rotate the photo by selecting it, then clicking the rotation handle with the circular arrow icon at the top.

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    Drag the rotation handle in the direction you want to rotate. When you’ve reached a 90 degree rotation, the photo will snap into place and you’ll see a rotation guideline appear.

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Resize the photo by selecting it, then clicking and dragging any of the white dots at the sides and corners of the image.

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  1. Add an Outline

    Next, let’s create a rectangle around the photo that can be used to cut it out of the material after engraving. That’s a Glowforge Premium tool that can do this for you in just two clicks.

    Click on your photo to select it.

    Next, click on the “Create Outline” icon on the right toolbar.

    Screenshot 2023-07-24 at 4.14.10 PM.png

    Click on “Create New Outline.”

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    This will create a .25 inch outline around the artwork you selected. Once it’s there, you can use the “Adjust Outline” slider to change the thickness of the outline.

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  1. Select your Material

    Before you put your design where you want it to print, choose your material. Because you removed the top layer of masking from this sheet of material, the App doesn’t have a QR code to help automatically identify what type of Proofgrade material it is. You can easily select this yourself.

    Click on “Unknown Material” at the top of the left sidebar.

    Screenshot 2023-07-24 at 4.14.29 PM.png

    Start typing in the name of your material - in this case “Light Maple Plywood,” and select it from the list that populates.

    Screenshot 2023-07-24 at 4.14.37 PM.png

    After you select your material, the settings will automatically load. As you can see, the photo is set to Engrave, and the Rectangle is set to cut.

    Screenshot 2023-07-24 at 4.14.43 PM.png

  2. Arrange your Steps

    The order of the steps in the left sidebar tell the Glowforge Aura what to do first. You can rearrange these steps as you wish by clicking and dragging the thumbnail.

    Let’s rearrange this so that the cut step happens after the photo finishes engraving.

    Click the thumbnail above the word “Cut,” then drag it down in the sidebar.

    Screenshot 2023-07-24 at 4.14.50 PM.png        

  3. Position your Design

    Almost done! Next, position the project on your material.

    To select everything, press Ctrl+A on your keyboard (Cmd+A for Mac users).

    Now drag everything to the spot on your material where you want your photo to print.

    Screenshot 2023-07-24 at 4.14.57 PM.png

  4. Make some Magic

    Click “Print” in the top of your Workspace.

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    The software will take a moment to prepare your design. When everything is ready, you’ll see the estimated printing time.

    The button on your Glowforge Aura will blink. If you’re using a Glowforge Personal Filter, its button will also blink when a print is ready to start.

    Press the button on your Glowforge Aura to start your print!

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  5. Watch the magic happen

    Remember - never leave your Glowforge Aura unattended while it’s printing. If you need to walk away for any reason, press the button on your Glowforge Aura once to pause the print, and once again to unpause it.

    When your print is complete, the App will show an updated image of the material in the Glowforge Aura, now featuring your printed design.

  6. Time for a Photo Finish!

    Open the lid, and lift out the finished print.

    You already removed the masking from the top, so that’s one less thing to do now that you’re done printing.

    But there’s still masking on the bottom - peel that off.

    And there you have it! As the centerpiece to a larger project, a gift, a keepsake - whatever you can dream up - this laser-engraved photo is just the beginning!

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