Is this too ambitious?

Good morning all,

I’d like to make my wife something special for her 40th birthday and was looking at trying to add a black and white picture of my kids to a 2.5d drawing.

I’ve tried a few things to import:

  • Import trace with original image
  • Converting to SVG (tried with a blank background too)
  • Even installed all this adobe crap to take a look

My skills on the software side are very limited, I’m also wondering whether the image is just too much for me, my cnc ( Shapeoko 4) and the software?

I’ve attached a couple of samples. If someone does this sort of thing for a living and would like money I’d be more than willing to compensate, it is specialized skills for sure. :slight_smile:


Ok I have done many of these… And I can suggest doing a preprocessing step in a program called “Gimp” (it’s open source and free) which lets you have finer control of the image before feeding it to carbide create for tracing.
In Gimp (which has a bit of a clunky user interface) you will need to control what is basically the contract. You do this via the brightness, color level and contrast options. It’s much easier to play with and see the result than CC is (after all gimp is made for photo editing).
You can also use some filters to increase local contrast; “unsharp mask” with a large radius is one of my favorites for that.

There is another trick that gets you a very very different effect: (again in gimp): With “edge detect” you get lines for the edges in your picture, rather than flat colors like you see in your B/W version. This gets you a different artistic effect (example in picture below) but for people, it tends to show the features of faces/etc better, so it is better for the recognition factor, while not as good for “pure accuracy to the original picture”.

An advanced option in gimp would be to do both, and basically do 2 layers, a top layer with the edges and a lower layer with pure colors, so you get a bit of both… but that’s more complicated


Your Atta-Boy was lost when you mentioned your wife’s age in the post. Lets hope she never sees the post because you just broadcast to the world your wife’s age. The 30, 40, 50, 60 … birthdays are very sensitive to many people so it is best to tippy toe around those specific birthdays.

Well Happy Birthday to your significant other and wishing her many more and a present worthy of her special occasion.


@jon1 Definitely possible depending on what you want as an end result. If you’re looking for a 3D file, you’ll probably need to start learning for her 50th or just pay someone for a file. If you just want a carved photo, take a look at RasterCarve. Relevant post here.

ok I poked a bit with this and I would carve this as a 4 layer picture, with different colors at different levels, and I’d use something like this attached edited picture for that where each gray level is a depth


Photo V-carve. Vectric File.

Here’s the gcode for a 3XL inch. 22 x 22 piece of stock Starting on the Lower Left, Z-zero is surface of stock. Stock is .75 thick.
V-bit is a amana 45780 SC ENGRAVING LINER 15°V

Photo V-Carve 1_1-Photo V-Carve (464.3 KB)


Thank you Arjan. I’ve downloaded GIMP and started to play with it, got much further than I was before really appreciate the recommendation :).

Fortunately my wife has much better problems… me. hah. She’s cool but I get you for sure. :slight_smile: Thanks for the well wishes.

This is really cool, thank you. :slight_smile:

Honestly I’ve been avoiding the larger tools GIMP, v-carve and such. Definitely something I need to spend more time on.

GIMP is a weird tool (and I loathe the name).

Other free/opensource tools to consider include:

If you’re willing to consider commercial software, Serif’s Affinity Design and Photo are quite good.

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oh wow, thank you so much. This works really well into CC.

Thank you as well. This is absolutely amazing. I don’t yet have a 15v bit yet, I’ll order the amana bit and give this a go with the other image. :).

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Thanks Will, I think I’ve used at some point for some editing.

I just want to thank you all, I’m blown away by the help here. Really really appreciate it. :slight_smile:

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I own and highly recommend both these programs. At ~$50 each for permanent licenses, they are quite affordable, especially when compared to Adobe’s Illustrator and Photoshop. Affinity Design generates vectors and Affinity Photo (not surprisingly) outputs bitmaps. Both have a free trial period and go on sale a couple of times each year.

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Love the Valeri shrine. My in-laws are in Portland.

Hi All,

Sorry been so crazy. Unfortunately my father passed away and I had to go travel for stuff. Either way, my wife loved the gift. It could be better (the eyes freak me out a bit lol), however, given your help and some time I’m really happy with this as a first attempt. I’ve also ordered some new bits to try the vcarve stuff.

Again, appreciate the help so much. :slight_smile:


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