custom skateboards

Choose the right file for laser engraving

Some advices to choose your photos, drawings or illustrations adapted to laser engraving and make the killer custom skateboard !

[🇫🇷 Traduction française ici]

Customization and laser engraving

You want to create a custom skateboard for yourself or to offer a (killer !) custom gift for a friend. You get an idea, you start your research… And then come the question : is it going to be nice with laser engraving ?
Here are part of the answers !


1-With the laser, think bicolor
2- The contrast
3- Advices for the photos
4- Advices for the drawings and illustrations

1- With the laser, think bicolor

Laser engraving is binary: it’s either engraved or not. That means that the machine understands one thing : should I engrave or not ? To let the machine answer this question, we must give it a file that is binary. The convention is to use a black and white file, and black will mean “engrave it”.

So the first thing to understand is that your design will always be converted in black and white.

This painting from Vasarely plays with colors, it’s not the recommended type of pictures

… because when we transform it in black and white, the picture stays understandable but loses its interest

On the contrary, this other painting from Vasarely would be perfect because it is already bicolor, so there will be no alteration to engrave it :

A black and white optical illusion. Vector Illustration

2- The contrast

We have seen that with laser engraving, it’s required to represent yourself your custom in black and white. But on a black and white picture, there might be an infinity of grey shades, so what happens on my skateboard ?

We can recreate the shades thanks to the rasterization process. We will engrave a grid pattern of points more or less dense that will create the illusion of shades.
An example of processed image, ready to be engraved :

illustration ready to be laser engraved

The thing is that, as we work on wood, the contrast between the dots and the background is not as strong as the one you can here on your screen.

That’s why it’s better to choose a picture that has got initially a strong contrast. 

  • If your illustration is pure black and white, we won’t need to use the rasterization process and the illustration will be perfectly respected by laser engraving.
  • If your design contains shades (like with a photo), consider that laser engraving will decrease a bit the contrast.

2- Advises for photos

1- Choose if possible a well-contrasted photo
2- Avoid photos with a complex background. You can even remove it thanks to this website !
3- Avoid having important details (like a face) in small dimension, because the rasterization points would have the same size and it would be difficult to recognize those details. So for a portrait, the bigger the better !

These are advices, the most important is that you like your skateboard ! Here are examples that respect more or less our advices, without being missed.

Check this pictures and the explanations 👇

Laser is bicolor but this photo is composed of different colours, so normally it’s not really adapted…

But converted in black and white the contrast is enough and it works !

This photo wouldn’t have been adapted because the subject is not detached from the background. The contrast is not strong enough

Laser engraving, photo processed

So it was compulsory to remove the background 

The result once laser engraved on natural wood

Not really the best file for laser engraving

A photo poorly contrasted and with a complex background

the file once laser engraved

We let you judge the result but as you see, the contrast has decreased once laser engraved

personnalisation photo

This photo is perfect for laser engraving, thanks to its light background and its strong contrast

skateboard personnalisé avec photo

As a result, the board is really nice

3- Advises for drawings and illustrations

1- As considering previously, avoid illustrations depending on a color play.
2- Again, prefer a contrasted drawing / illustration. The optimum is a black drawing or illustration on a white background. But an illustration with several colors can work too.
3- With a totally black and white illustration that won’t need rasterization (check the Contrast part), the laser will respect all the details of your drawing ! Do not hesitate to put thin lines and dots.
4- Tip : the big areas laser engraved will let visible the wood veins, the rendering is fantastic !

Check this pictures and the explanations 👇

Watercolor painting is not the typical illustration for laser engraving, although this one is well contrasted and doesn’t play with many colors.

It turns out the board is really nice and the bicolor version of the illustration works.

Zoom on the grid pattern of points that create the shades

the right file for laser engraving

This is a “pure” black and white illustration, as a result we don’t need to apply the rasterization process…

…and every line will be perfectly respected !

This one is also pure black and white and also is made of large areas that makes it perfect for laser engraving on stained wood.

Those large areas once engraved will give a view on the wood’s grain, and at Le Shape we like it a lot !

This illustration has a strong contrast with colors, but not so much once converted in black and white.

As you can see, this is reflected on the board.

We hope that everything is clear now !

One last point: the interface can let appear optical effects like inclined stripes.
This is only on our interface, your file and custom skateboard won’t be impacted.

đź–¤ We control every files before production đź–¤
Now it’s your turn to create an awesome custom deck !

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