Chapter 1 - Getting Started

PhotoGrav 3.0

1.0 Using this Document

    This document has two objectives: (1) To acquaint you with PhotoGrav so you can be productively using the program as rapidly as possible and (2) To serve as a complete reference source for all of PhotoGrav's components and operational characteristics.

    To satisfy the first objective, chapters 1 and 2 have been written to present essential information and concepts in as concise a manner as possible. Chapter 1 provides the information necessary to install PhotoGrav and to begin using it almost immediately. A series of logically-connected scenarios, with screen shots, provides immediate hands-on experience and should give you a good idea of PhotoGrav's basic operational characteristics. Chapter 2 presents an overview of the flow of events within PhotoGrav, discusses some basic PhotoGrav concepts and rationale, and presents a summary of important information that you should know about the program.

    The remainder of the chapters, especially chapters 3 and 4, provides a detailed reference source for all of PhotoGrav's features. Chapters 3 and 4 present detailed descriptions of PhotoGrav's Primary and Support windows, respectively. Chapter 5 describes how to use the program's Help capability and Chapter 6 explains what to do if you have any difficulties in using PhotoGrav. The Appendices present supplemental information in specialized areas.

    At a minimum, after installing the program, you should read Sec. 1.4 and step through the scenario presented in that section. You should also definitely read Sec. 2.3, Important PhotoGrav Information. Preferably, to really understand and fully use PhotoGrav's extensive capabilities, you should read Chapters 1 and 2 in their entirety.

1.1 System Requirements

To use PhotoGrav, you need the following hardware and software:

Notes on Hardware Requirements:

    PhotoGrav itself requires less than 30 MB of hard disk space for program and data files. However, several temporary disk files are created during PhotoGrav execution on the disk where you installed PhotoGrav. These files are used as temporary storage for some of the images which are generated during execution. The sizes of these temporary files are proportional to the size of the digitized photo which is to be engraved and thus the required hard disk space is a “soft” number which depends on your operational scenario. All PhotoGrav temporary files are deleted when PhotoGrav terminates execution.

1.2 Preliminaries

    PhotoGrav requires that your computer monitor be set up to display a pixel depth of at least 32 bits per pixel. It is also desirable that the display resolution (desktop area) be set to at least 1024 x 768, but it is recommended to be set at a larger size.

1.3 Installation / Setup

    The installation process will create an icon for PhotoGrav and place that on your desktop as a shortcut and will also create a new Program Group under "PhotoGrav". In all cases, the installation process will also create an Uninstall icon that allows you to easily remove PhotoGrav from your system. You may also use the “Add/Remove Programs” capability in the Control Panel to uninstall the program.

1.4 PhotoGrav Activation System and Licensing

    When PhotoGrav is launched it checks to see if the software has been activated and authenticated for full use. PhotoGrav will permit full usage with an activation reminder up to 15 days from initial installation in order to give adequate time for the user to activate the software. No registration is required to activate the software and no personal information is transmitted across the internet.


    PhotoGrav Licensing and Activation System permits activations on two separate computer machines and reactivation as many times as needed. This policy allows PhotoGrav to be installed on any combination of two computers such as office/laptop, home/office, machine/office, etc.

    There are four different methods of activation provided to conveniently assist in activating the PhotoGrav software product. These four methods of activation are via the Web, Email, Postal Mail, and Phone (see Fig. 1.4.1). The quickest method to activate the PhotoGrav software, assuming efficient internet capabilities, is to use the online PhotoGrav Activation System (see Fig. 1.4.2).

    To activate the software and display the activation screen in Fig 1.4.1, open PhotoGrav and click Help→Activate PhotoGrav on the main menu bar. If an active internet connection is available then it is suggested to click the Get Activation Key (Web)… button for the quickest way to activate the software. If you prefer to use email then simply click on the Get Activation Key (Email)… button and on most computers your default email client will pop up and be filled in with the appropriate information. If the computer system is configured in such a way that the relevant information is already filled in then just click the Send button to send an activation request email and allow 24 hours for the Activation Key to be emailed back to the sending email address. The third method is to call ImageLaz Sales Dept and we will be happy to provide an Activation Key. The fourth and most inefficient method of activation is to send an activation request via postal mail to ImageLaz with the appropriate information and wait for the Activation Key to be sent back.

1.5 Quick Start Scenarios

    This section provides a “Quick Start” to using PhotoGrav by presenting a simple, but typical, engraving scenario. It introduces PhotoGrav’s major features and controls and how they are used within the context of an actual engraving scenario. To successfully use this section you should have a basic understanding of Windows features and techniques. If you’re anxious to try PhotoGrav and you don’t like to read, then this section is for you. However, even if you consider yourself a PhotoGrav expert after completing this section, it is highly recommended that you step through the additional scenarios in Section 1.6 and then read Chapter 2 for a more complete understanding of how PhotoGrav works.

There are several definitions that one should have firmly in mind before tackling the Quick Start scenario. These definitions are listed below:

Original Image
(Gray or Color)
The image, in jpg, tif, png or bmp format, that is the input image to PhotoGrav. This image is the digitized photograph (either in color or grayscale) that you want to engrave.
Engraved Image(Binary) This is the processed image that PhotoGrav produces that should be sent  to your laser engraver. This image is a binary image (black & white) and can be saved in either tif, png, or bmp format.
Simulation Image This is a simulation, produced by PhotoGrav, of what the engraved image will look like when engraved on the selected engraving material. This image is a 24-bit, true color image and can be saved in either jpg, tif, png or bmp format. This image is useful for customer proofs and for reference BUT is NOT the image to be sent to the laser engraver.

Scenario 1:   Engrave a man’s photograph on cherry wood.

It is assumed that the man’s photograph has been previously digitized and stored as either a color or grayshaded image (in one of the supported image formats) on disk. This scenario will use the image “Image250.bmp” which has been furnished with PhotoGrav. This image should reside in the directory C:\[PhotoGrav Installation Directory]\SAMPLES.

Note: The image “Image250.bmp” has a dpi of 250. In general, the ratio of engraver dpi to image dpi should be an integer factor. So if your engraver has dpi’s like 150, 300, 600, . . , then in the following scenario you should use the image “Image300.dpi” which has a dpi of 300.

  1. Start PhotoGrav by double clicking its icon    or by choosing it from the Start menu. The opening “Splash” screen appears.
  2. Click anywhere at any time on the opening screen or press any key to continue with PhotoGrav execution which always begins with a blank Session Window.
  3. However, the very first time you run PhotoGrav, a “Select Machine Type” Window is automatically displayed. In that window, select your engraver type by clicking one of the option buttons. If you cannot find your engraver in the list of machines just Select “User Defined→Custom” and type in the relevant information. Then click OK to close the window.
  4. Click Open Image and use the standard Windows dialog box to choose the image “Image250.bmp” which resides in the \SAMPLES subdirectory of the directory in which you installed PhotoGrav. The image should be displayed.
  5. Click Select Material. (A list of engraving materials appears).
  6. Scroll down the list and select “Cherry with light vertical grain” and click OK. (“Cherry with light vertical grain” shows up in the status bar pane at the bottom of the PhotoGrav application window).
  7. Click Final Process. (A status message informs you of PhotoGrav’s progress permitting you to CANCEL the operation if needed at the first available point in the processing algorithm).
  8. When processing is complete, a simulation of the engraving is displayed while permitting one to cycle through the various images by clicking on the appropriate buttons:
       O = Original, G = Grayscale, E = Engraved, S = Simulated


  9. Click on the Save Image button. At this point, if you wished to save the engraved image to disk in order to later send it to your engraver, you would select the “Engraved” option in the Export Image window that appears. A standard Windows dialog box would then appear in which you could specify the file name of the engraved (binary) image in the usual manner.
  10. That’s all there is to it! You have created an image, the engraved image, which is ready to be sent to your laser engraver via your print software such as CorelDraw or your laser driver. You may now save the PhotoGrav Session if desired which will save the original image and all the appropriate material, machine, and session parameters in one PhotoGrav Session File (.pgs) .

    At this point, either continue with scenario 2 (in Section 1.6) or click Exit to exit the PhotoGrav program.

1.6 Additional Tutorial Scenarios

    This section presents five additional scenarios which further illustrate PhotoGrav’s features. Each scenario is a logical follow-on to Scenario 1 presented in the preceding section.

Scenario 2: Compare the original, grayscale, engraved, & simulated images.

    This scenario will demonstrate how easy it is to evaluate the engraved (binary) image by comparing it and the simulated engraving to the original (input) or grayscale image. The scenario will also demonstrate some of PhotoGrav’s supporting features. PhotoGrav has a “Split Screen” feature which can be used to more efficiently compare the various images (i.e. grayscale vs. simulated).

Scenario 3: Generating a PhotoGrav Session Information Report

    This scenario will demonstrate how to generate a PhotoGrav Session Information Report that completely describes the current engraving session. The scenario will also demonstrate several other PhotoGrav features.

Scenario 4:  Adjusting Parameters in the “Interactive Mode” Panel.

    This scenario will demonstrate how to adjust the parameters used in creating the engraved and simulation images. The Interactive Mode panel is extremely powerful, but also a little complicated so this scenario will just demonstrate some, not all, of the features available when Interactive Mode is selected. This scenario will also demonstrate how to export the Parameters.