We hope you have a great experience with us preserving a favourite photo memory within an elegant crystal.
Although our art workers will do their very best to create a crystal you will admire for years to come, the first part to creating the perfect crystal is having a good photo to work with. This guide has been written to help you take (or select) a suitable photo for conversion into a 3D crystal engraving.
Some of the main factors to consider are as follows:
- The type of portrait you want
- Decide whether you want a head only, head and shoulders, 3/4 body or full body. Please note that as the head size is reduced to fit more body, facial features will be less defined. This is because the number of engraving micro-dots per unit area of crystal is fixed. The larger the area of crystal reserved for the face, the more micro-dots it contains resulting in better definition. Head and shoulders views tend to be the most popular for crystal engravings.
- The size and shape of crystal you want to use
- Try to select a photo which will evenly fill your chosen crystal. Remember, rectangular shaped crystals can be engraved in either portrait (upright rectangular tower) or landscape (flat rectangle). For a single person or a standing couple view (or a front view of an animal) a portrait view is usually most suitable. If you have multiple front views of several people or animals (or a side on view of an animal), a landscape crystal is more suitable. If you wish to have several subjects in the crystal also consider using a larger crystal. This is because the spacing between the engraving micro-dots remains the same whichever crystal is used, therefore larger crystals can contain more micro-dots and hence the features of the subjects will be captured in more detail. For head and shoulders views of couples, the heart shaped and iceberg crystals work well too.
- Image quality
- Try to avoid using low quality or blurry images since this will reduce the quality of the engraving. Photos copied from social media or websites can often be of very low quality so try to locate and upload the original picture. A good indicator of quality and resolution is the DPI value (dots per inch). Another useful but less accurate indicator is the file size. If you are selecting a photo from a computer, the DPI and file size can be found by right clicking on the file and selecting 'properties'. For pictures on a phone, there is usually an option to see the 'details' of the image. As a guide, photos used for 3D conversion and engraving should ideally have a DPI of at least 100 and/or a file size greater than 100KB (0.2MB) but less than 10MB (to avoid prolonged upload times).
- Prior to engraving, your image will be converted to grayscale. Lighter areas contain a higher concentration of micro-dots, darker areas a lower concentration. Try to avoid using photos which contain large areas of black (or very dark) since these will appear as blank spaces on the engraving and wont be illuminated when displayed with a light stand.
- Try to use photos taken in good lighting, ideally in sunlight (with sun behind the photographer) and avoid shadows on the subject. This will really help us to capture all the features of the image within an engraving.
- If you want to engrave an old non-digital photo, try to scan it with the highest resolution settings of your scanner to get the best results.
- Orientation of the subjects
- When your image is processed and converted to a front view 3D image, the software used by our artists can only process data it can see in the image. Try to avoid images with layers of overlapping subjects or objects. For example, if the image has 5 subjects with 2 people in front and 3 people behind, the engraving will look great when viewed straight on but when viewed from a slight angle, you will see un-engraved shadows of the front people on the chests of the people behind. This is because the software does not know what is directly behind the front subjects because this information is not present in the uploaded picture. The same applies if there is an object in front of the subject (or the subject is holding an object in front of them) since again an 'engraving shadow' will be seen behind the subject when the crystal is viewed at an angle. It is much better to have groups of people or animals standing in the same line with few objects in front of them.
- If the picture was not taken by you, do you have permission to use it?
- Please make sure you have permission to use the photo you wish to have engraved. This is particularly important when using images downloaded from the internet. If you are looking to engrave your favourite pop star, sportsman or even a favourite animal, the best place to look first is websites which supply 'Royalty Free' photos free of charge such as Pexels.com. For celebrity photos you will typically have to pay a Royalty fee in order to get permission to use it. These fees can vary considerably. Shutterstock.com are one of the cheaper sources of celebrity images but a larger range is available on the more expensive site GettyImages.co.uk.
- Special considerations when using animal photos
- We've mentioned above about the importance of good natural lighting when taking photos for engraving but this is even more important for animals especially if they have dark coats. In poor lighting, a dark coated animal can appear very dull and monotone in a photograph. Take the picture in good sunlight however (with the sun behind the photographer) and you will see an amazing array of contrasting shades in the coat and these will be captured in the engraving adding much more features to the finished product.
- When we take photos of pets, particularly smaller animals we often take them from above. This is fine for 2 dimensional photographs with background but for 3D engravings, where we typically remove the background, the animal's head will often appear out of proportion when the crystal is viewed straight on. For animals with upright ears or say a long nose, photos taken from above cause further problems since the ears will cast an engraving shadow on their back and the nose will cast an engraving shadow on the chest. The back legs (if included) will also appear higher up on the crystal than the front legs. It is therefore important to get down and take photographs of your pet at their eye level to avoid these issues. Partial side-on views of animals are also not ideal when it comes to engravings. To give an example of some of these issues, the crystal below was prepared using a photograph taken from above the dog's eye level with a partial view of its right side.
- From the first picture (above left) you can see the dog's back legs look to be floating higher than the front legs. This is only a minor issue and the artwork will look complete if the display position in the room means it will be viewed straight on or from the right side (e.g. it is placed on the left side of a shelf or mantle piece). If however this crystal is viewed from the left or from below (above right) engraving shadows can be seen within the crystal. This is because the original photo did not show the underside of the chin or the right side of the neck and so the software was unable to convert it to 3D. Please therefore consider where you plan to position your crystal when selecting your photo or alternatively, to avoid engraving shadows, try to use images taken from the animals eye level and either straight-on front views (ideally showing the chin and neck - see lower left image below) or full side views (lower right image below).
- And finally, if you still have questions about the suitability of your image, why not contact us and attach your photo to the email. We will be happy to give you some advice before you place your order.