How to Use CorelDRAW to Produce GraniteArt
How to Use CorelDRAW to Produce GraniteArt
By Louie Alvarez
Greetings to the members of ACDRP, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Louie Alvarez, I am an
“Independent Sales Representative” for Vytek Industrial Lasers and I am the newest addition to CorelDRAWPro ENews contributing writer family. I look forward to the two articles I hope to provide you monthly on the topics of
“CorelDRAW Innovations” (new uses and techniques from my perspective) and “Electronics Frontier” (innovative
gadgets, software and ideas that will make your work easier and ultimately more profitable).
I remember Mike Neer, CorelDRAW Pro Editor got me started in the circuit some 15+ years ago writing for his
publication way back then. Today with my many years of experience in the industry Mike once again approached
me to possibly write articles for the esteemed readers of CorelDRAWPro E-News. Some of you may remember me
from years of seminar speaking, workshop instructing, various publication writing contributions and even from my
years of selling laser engraving equipment. Throughout the years I’ve done various other endeavors beyond what
was already mentioned, including, owning my own laser engraving business, Internet business and even hosting my
own live radio talk show on computers and the Internet for 2½ years.
I hope all the knowledge I’ve garnered over these past years from the technology industry (CorelDRAW, lasers,
internet, computers, etc.) will; through the articles I submit to the CorelDRAWPro E-News venue; assist you in
new operations of CorelDRAW or even help in running your business a little more efficiently.
Finally, to the readers of CorelDRAWPro E-News if there are any specific topics of interest within my two
designated categories please don’t hesitate to send me an email ([email protected]) to address it. I am
always open to suggestions and/or requests so feel free to ask away and I will do my best to provide valuable
information on said request.
With that said let’s dive into this months article suggested by Mike as my opening topic. “How to use CorelDRAW
to produce Granite Art.” An interesting subject, one of which I am intimately familiar with, such as, the
characteristics of the material, the misconception many people have of working with granite and even the
limitations of CorelDRAW. In this case using a laser engraving system to produce a quality image on the surface of
the granite, you’ll see my slant on CorelDRAW will lean towards its use with laser systems as that is my most
specific use of CorelDRAW and what the laser industry has chosen to standardize on.
First of all let me begin by clarifying a misconception of working with stone in general, granite specifically. When
printing to paper using either an inkjet or laser printer the printer can dynamically resize the dot of the ink/toner
printed to the paper, hence using 300 dpi (dots per inch), 600 dpi, 1200 dpi, 2400 dpi or higher the human eye can
easily distinguish the differences due to this dynamic resizing of dots printed. Using regular copy paper you can
actually achieve pretty good quality with a high dpi, change the paper to photo quality paper and you have a
photograph that looks professionally printed. DPI is not the same with laser systems, most units on the market ship
with a 2” lens which provides a dot size of .005”, change the dpi on the laser from 500 – 1000 and you not only will
take precisely twice as long to finish the same image but quality improvement is so insignificant that the double
time to complete the project is unjustifiable. The reason for this is that a laser’s dot size is static, meaning it
NEVER changes in size when dpi is changed, the only thing that changes is the Y axis movement is slowed down,
essentially forcing the dot to overlap the previous dot lasered. Now factor in the crystals that are an inherent
characteristic of the granite and you can see how using high dpi is useless when working with granite.
After all that, my point is in order to produce quality granite artwork you must use a low dpi. Experiment as you
may find that 500, 400, 300 or even 200 dpi will provide you with the necessary dpi for a quality image. Secondly
unlike marble where you can achieve great detail of the finest lines (Marble Sample) on granite you must always
factor in the crystals (Granite Sample) so using larger images without much detail will work far better in achieving
quality artwork on granite.
So to wrap up the above, two issues must be addressed when creating granite artwork. 1st use low dpi on you image
matching that setting on your laser, 2nd use larger, less detailed images. Small artwork or artwork with much detail
simply gets lost amongst the crystals of the granite. I might add that darker granite works best, such as absolute
black, for providing highest contrast.
Now onto creating quality granite artwork, I’m sure this won’t go over to well with all the hardcore CorelDRAW
users but CorelDRAW is terrible for photos. Although CorelDRAW can do amazing things with text, vector
artwork, page layout, working with logos and clipart, it simply wasn’t designed for any kind of significant
manipulation of photographs. That is where Corel Paint or similar applications excel in. Although you will still use
CorelDRAW to layout your final design the actual manipulation of the photo will take place elsewhere.
Ok, let’s begin the process. You’ll be using your image manipulation software, i.e., Corel PhotoPaint, PhotoShop or
equivalent and PhotoGrav (www.photograv.com) to properly prepare your image for lasering. The steps involved
are quite simple and the process is very quick. I will note where an image may need more time than typical, which
is not an issue as you should be charging accordingly.
First and foremost is obviously to get your image into a digital format onto your computer. If scanning and the
choice is provided you’ll want to scan your image in at the dpi and size you’ll ultimately want to laser at (actual
size) so if going to work on a 5”x7” granite piece and working with a wallet size photo, enlarge at the scanner level
if possible, otherwise you’ll have do this in your image manipulation software, also ensure you set your dpi to
match whatever you’ll use on your laser. In my case I get best results at 200 dpi on my Vytek laser systems
(remember the dpi clarification from earlier?). Of course if working with a digital camera photo then you’ll resize
and adjust your dpi in your image manipulation software (Image | Resample) as I’ve displayed below.
Resample starting point
Now however you get your image into your computer I find that unless I have to clean up a beat up, scratched
photo or remove background clutter (this can be labor intensive so charge appropriately) I’ve only had to adjust
brightness, contrast, midtones and highlights. Corel PhotoPaint provides a one stop screen to adjust these settings
(Adjust | Image Manipulation Lab). Note the two images below (1st is original, second has been manipulated), I find
that working with dark material (i.e. black granite) starting off with a dark image doesn’t come out nearly as well as
working with a lightened up photo. You can see from the numbers on the right side what and how much was
adjusted for this particular photo. Now this is something that your personal tastes will determine what looks best.
Just remember your working with dark material with many crystals competing with your photograph so adjust
Once satisfied with your image, convert your image to grayscale (Image | Convert to Grayscale (8-bit)) and save as (File |
Give your file an appropriate name, ensuring you’ve selected “Save as type: BMP – Windows
Bitmap” as your file type, then save into a known location.
Save As...) a Bitmap.
Now fire up PhotoGrav, if you don’t have it, get it, although possible to generate images without PhotoGrav, this
one button processing application speeds up, simplifies and takes the thinking out of this final process. Well worth
the investment if you plan on EVER doing photos or clipart with your laser. Select the Black Granite parameter
(Blkgranite.prm) and click on the “Auto Process” button and let PhotoGrav do its magic. Once completed click on the
“Cycle Images” button until “Save Engraved” is noted to the right of this button. Click on “Save Engraved” and
place the file into the same folder location as the Windows BMP you saved earlier in Corel PhotoPaint.
This file will be the one you place into your CorelDRAW layout for final processing to your laser system. Within
CorelDRAW import the PhotoGrav file you created, layout your text and other objects as necessary. Save and print.
Tune in next month as I get more specific on how to utilize PhotoGrav to produce the best images your laser is truly
Louie Alvarez began acquiring his experience in the awards and engraving industry in Central California over 19
years ago, first as an employee of the largest and oldest trophy shop and then as owner of one of the first laser
engraving businesses. Louie has been a featured workshop instructor and seminar speaker throughout the industry
in addition to being a contributing writer to numerous industry publications. Louie is based in Las Vegas, NV and
can be reached via LOUIEALVAREZ.com.