Take the mystery out of laser engraving photos by learning a step-by-step approach to creating spectacular photo engraved woodblocks.

Mastering Photo Engraved Woodblocks is an online course for printmakers who want to expand into the digital realm without the frustration of endless trial and error.


Take the mystery out of laser engraving photos by learning a step-by-step approach to creating spectacular photo engraved woodblocks.

Mastering Photo Engraved Woodblocks is an online course for printmakers who want to expand into the digital realm without the frustration of endless trial and error.


"I loved this workshop! It was just the right amount of information in a short time span. I learned SO MUCH about how to use my own laser engraver, develop images in Photoshop and Illustrator, set up and run test files, and finesse photo engraved blocks. "

~ Janet Ballweg, Professor at Bowling Green State University

Laser engraved photo woodblock prints of a cat and factory scattered on a table.

Of all the things I’ve learned in laser cutting, working with photographs has been the most challenging because photographs that look great on the screen usually engrave poorly. 

For a long time it felt like playing wackamole, not knowing what adjustment to make when or having a repeatable process. But overtime I gained an understanding of the different variables at play and developed a step-by-step process for adjusting photos that I want to share with you!

I’m not going to lie to you … 

It does take time and practice to become a master at engraving photos but in this course you will learn a system for creating laser friendly photos and understanding of all the variables at play, so that you have the knowledge you need to problem solve and troubleshoot your way to consistently good results. 

While I give you a step-by-step process, we also talk about the art of adjusting photos because this process isn’t just about reproducing an image. It is also about having the skills to transform an image to meet your artistic vision for the final print.



What if I told you that in just 4-weeks you can:

Icon of photographs

Learn how to prepare you photos for engraving without having to become a Photoshop genius.

Number 6

Learn the 6 principles to photo engraving success, so that you could analyze your results and know what to tweak to improve your image.

Icon of laser cutter

Discover the optimal power, speed, and resolution settings for your laser cutter and how to adjust them for different effects.

Course materials video on laptop, course website on desktop, pdf handouts

A course created for printmakers who want to bring photographic techniques into their practice without the struggle of trial and error. 

In 4 Modules you will learn my step-by-step process that takes the mystery out of laser engraving woodblocks, while also discovering how to adjust the process so you can imbue your artistry into the final image.


What's Inside

In this module, you’ll learn about materials and testing.

  •   Discover the best materials for laser engraved woodblocks (and my list of top suppliers!). 
  •   How engraving photographs differ from traditionally engraved woodblocks.
  •   Optimal laser settings for your machine and how the engraving depth affects the image.

You’ll begin designing for success by learning:

  •   What types of photographs work best for laser engraving. 
  •   How to create laser friendly photographs in Photoshop.
  •   How to prepare Illustrator files for engraving.

Now that your photograph is optimized for engraving it is time to learn:

  •   How to refine your settings from Module 1 for additional clarity.
  •   How to proof your woodblock and analyze the results.
  •   How to identify additional adjustments needed in Photoshop.

Time to show off all your hard work and learn some insider tips.

  •   Common engraving challenges and solutions.
  •   Additional Photoshop and Illustrator tools.
  •   How to create shaped and jigsaw blocks
  •   Laser cut registration jigs
Laser engraved woodblock of abstract landscape with printmaking brayer

Technology and Material Requirements

  • Laser cutter (your own or access to one at a makerspace or institution)

  • Adobe CC: Illustrator and PhotoShop

  • Zoom

  • ¼” birch plywood and printmaking supplies.

"This course is awesome - covers the basics really well, and allows for you to ask specific questions - especially if you have a laser engraving project in mind! Would absolutely recommend it to anyone who's looking to get more comfortable with the laser engraving process."

~ Megan Cascella, Printmaking Technician at Wessley College

This course is perfect for you if…

✔  You want to expand your printmaking into the digital realm and don’t have the time or patience to teach yourself

✔  You’ve experimented with engraving photographs on wood and have come up against stumbling blocks 

✔  You’ve had some success with laser engraving woodblocks but want to refine your technique and gain more control over the process so you can experiment further

Sarah teaching laser engraving with faculty standing at worktable with laptop
Head shot of Sarah a Caucasian woman with short brown hair and glasses looking up at the camera

It’s hard to believe now, but I went to a school where many people saw using photographs in their prints a tabu. Thankfully print media has broken free from that mindset and embraces not only photography but also incorporating new technology like laser cutters with traditional printmaking processes.

I was once where you are, trying to figure out how to turn disappointing results into clear, sharp photo engravings by piecing together information from YouTube and improve through trial and error. The turning point came when I figured out the three key tools in Adobe Photoshop for creating laser-friendly photos and began seeing like the laser cutter.

I want to share these tools with you, so you can start creating photo engraved woodblocks NOW not years from now.

In this course, I take a decade’s worth of knowledge and synthesize it into 4 digestible modules that teach you the essentials for creating laser cutting files without the inapplicable stuff you’d get in a general Illustrator tutorial.

You’ll learn how to find custom settings for specific materials and images so that you can problem solve and expand your creative endeavors beyond this course. I’ll give you insider information on how to solve common problems and how to think through common troubleshooting issues.

I believe that the key to learning is not the ability to follow instructions but in understanding the why and how so you can problem solve and develop your own creative ideas as your work evolves.

I can’t wait to share my experience with you!

Photo of Sarah standing at FreeFall Laser vendor booth wearing a mask

Frequently Asked Question

Are you ready to expand your printmaking practice by taking the mystery out of creating photo engraved woodblocks?



Online laser cutting courses for creatives and educators who want to learn the essential tools and techniques of laser cutting without feeling intimidated by technology. Taught by an artist for artists and creatives of all kinds.

Instructor and laser cutting specialist Sarah Pike of FreeFall Laser

Contact: Sarah[email protected]

© Sarah Pike 2024