epilog laser

Try This: Laser Engraved Maps on End Tables

Devon Posey is a graphic designer at Epilog Laser. With a bachelor’s degree in graphic design from Harding University in Arkansas, Posey has been working in the graphic design field since graduation, and some of her top skills include web design, corporate branding, packaging design, photography, and creating eblasts. Posey focuses on web and print design, sample creations, and developing laserable ideas to help enable customer access.

Follow these steps to create a one-of-a-kind heirloom for your customer’s home or office with these laser engraved maps on end tables.

 Materials Needed:

  • Laser engraving machine
  • CorelDRAW or Illustrator
  • Wooden end tables

Step One: Capture the desired city map image

Start off by visiting Snazzy Maps to create a custom map suitable for laser engraving or cutting.

Click on the Build a Map button near the top of the page, and click Choose a Snazzy Maps style button under Style.

You may choose any style that appeals to you; however, Epilog has created a style with laser engraving in mind that automatically translates the image to black and white. You can find it by searching ‘Epilog’ in the search field and selecting “Epilog Laser – Laser Cut Maps” style in the results section, then clicking Apply Style at the bottom of the page.

Click the Size and Location option in the Build a Map panel. In the Size section, change the Height option to 100%. In the Center Location section, click ‘Or search for a location’ button below the latitude and longitude coordinates.

Fill in the city name and press Enter, or select your city from the prefilled drop-down options.

In the Zoom Level section, set the Zoom to 13, then click Apply Changes. This might need to be adjusted by the overall size of the city you are working with and the crop you would like to achieve. You’ll be able to adjust the Zoom Level later, by using your scroll wheel with the mouse over the map screen.

Optional: This example does not use the Markers section, but you have the option to do so by clicking on the Markers section. The Markers section includes a Name, Location, and Icon style that can be used to add custom locations to your map. For example, you could add markers for a home, favorite restaurants, wedding location, etc., to add an additional level of personalization.

Click the Advanced Settings section. Under the Controls section, click on the button next to Hide All Controls – this will make it easier to capture an image of the map. Then click Apply Changes.

Click on the Hide Panel button on the right side of the Build a Map panel.

Capture a screen shot of the map by either using the Windows Snipping Tool app or holding down Command + Shift + 4 on your Mac and simultaneously clicking and dragging across your image.

Step Two: Trace Vector

In CorelDRAW, start by selecting the Import Image option from the File drop-down menu at the top of the page (Ctrl + I).

Convert the raster image to a vector graphic using the Line Art settings in the Trace Bitmap feature. With the map selected, click Trace Bitmap near the top of the screen in the Property Bar, then Outline Trace, and then Line Art as the style of trace.

On the right side of the PowerTrace window, convert your settings to the following:

Note: click the dropper tool to the right of the Specify Color option, then click any white in the Raster Preview window on the left side.

Click on the Colors tab to open the Colors panel. In the Color Mode drop-down menu, select Black and White.

Once the Trace is complete, click OK to finalize your vector trace.

If using Adobe Illustrator, see instructions on tracing the vector image here.

Step Three: Add frame around map

Resize the dimensions of your page and artwork to the final size you want to engrave or cut with your laser. Be sure to account for an inch or two around the artwork.

Draw a border around the map with the Rectangle tool by clicking and dragging, or select your artwork, then hold the Shift key and double click on the Rectangle tool to automatically create a Rectangle around your map.

Open the Outline Pen options palette. With the border still selected, double click the Outline Pen tool in the bottom right corner of CorelDRAW.  

Within the Outline Pen window, set the Line Width to your desired border thickness. In this example, .75-inch is used. Next to Position, select the Outside position icon. Click OK.

Convert the border stroke to an object. With the outline still selected, click the Object menu option at the top of the screen, then Convert Outline to Object (Ctrl + Shift + Q).

Use the Pick tool to select both the map and the border, then click the Weld option that will appear in the Property Bar near the top of the screen.

Step Four: Add text

Use the Text tool to type out the name of your city in all caps. Typeface with a bold, condensed option will work well for this style of laser cut map. Helvetica Condensed Black is used for this example.

Move the text up to slightly overlap the bottom of your frame, then resize the text so that there is around .5 of an inch to 1 inch of space from the inside border on the left and right side of your text. Copy and paste the text, and click and drag the copy to the side.

Finalize the text by converting the text to Curves. Click the Objects menu option at the top of the screen then Convert to Curves (Ctrl + Q).

Step Five: Add frame around text

Use the auto-outline feature, and hold Shift + double click the Rectangle tool to create a rectangle around the text.

Using the Outline Pen tool in the bottom right corner of CorelDRAW, change the line width to .75-inch and select Inside Position this time, then click OK.

Resize the rectangle so that it overlaps the bottom edge of the map frame, and slightly overlaps the bottom of the text.

Convert the line to an Object by clicking Object, then Convert Outline to Object (Ctrl + Shift + Q) in the drop-down menu.

Step Six: Combine objects

Use the Pick Tool to select all the objects for the map and click the Weld option in the Property Bar at the top of the page.

To recreate the comma descender that was welded to the bottom frame, select the copy of the city text, and delete all but the comma. Then convert it to curves by clicking Object, then Convert to Curves (Ctrl + Q) from the drop-down menu at the top of the page.

With the comma still selected, click the Shape Tool (F10). Double click on the three nodes that make up the top part of the comma to delete the top section of the comma. Then click and drag the comma descender just below the comma in the text.

Select the map artwork and the comma descender using the Pick Tool, then click on the Back minus front option that appears in the Property Bar near the top of the screen.

Step Seven: Prepare for engraving

Add a Hairline Outline and remove the black fill.

Step Eight: Engrave

Send the job.

—Devon Posey, Epilog Laser