Retirement Gift for Canyonlands Park Superintendent

A very good friend of mine, who has a very close association with Canyonlands National Park, realized, after seeing that I had a CNC Plasma cutter, that we could make a nice gift for the current Park Superintendent who is retiring next week.

He suggested that a silhouette of Druid Arch, a difficult to find, but very imposing natural arch, would be appropriate. Fortunately I had a fairly nice and high contrast photo of the arch that I took on a trip in 2005. So…
Here’s the arch:

and here is the gift:



That’s a super one of a kind gift. Excellent choice of photo to yield what will be instantly recognizable to him.

Thanks, but a minor yet important correction is that it is a ‘her’, Kate Cannon, National Park Superintendent for the last 14 years. This was fun to do both because it was a fun project and, through my friend, I’ve had a pretty good association with Canyonlands for the last 20 or so years. Consequently, I was MORE than willing to do this!


Camped at Canyonlands this past summer on my way back from Seattle and Glacier NP. Was the only one of the big five I’ve not been to - was glad to get there finally. Beautiful place! And a very fine gift!

Yeah, nice place to visit. Been there several times, the last trip was a bit crazy, however, with 10 of us going in for 10 days. The ages ranged from 8 to 80, with the 80 year old guiding us! The trip was our birthday present to the 80 year old…
Here’s one of the vehicles almost packed…


this turned out great. new guy here, question… What process did you use to make the silhouette from the picture? if you dont mind sharing.

welcome to the forum…
Inkscape is free and will do this…“trace to bitmap” is the feature…
may other programs do the same thing…
it will never be perfect but it gives you a great base to work from.

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Welcome to the forum! You’ll have fun here, I’m sure!

As you can see, I had a very high contrast photo to start with, that helps a lot. As @toolboy points out, Inkscape does have a Trace Bitmap function that will produce vectors from a photo with well defined edges. If I had used Inkscape directly, I probably would have first shifted the contrast a bit more and made a black and white image to trace. Even then I’d have some manual work to add and repair nodes.

In this case, however, (and I use this method more and more as my proficiency increases) I used Affinity Photo to process it to an image that was easily traced without any further correction. There are plenty of very good tutorials that show how to use Affinity Photo to derive a traceable image, especially in select areas. The main tool I used here, because the main challenge was to remove the sky and make everything else opaque, was a tool called ‘Flood Selection’. With this tool you click in the area you want to select (the sky in this case) and simply drag the tool to increase or decrease the sensitivity of the selection and it will select all the pixels that are similar to where you clicked. It took less than a minute to select all of the main sky regions (once I knew what I was doing), and then a bit more fiddling to select the very small regions within the Arch and some areas where there were clouds (hard to see in the photo, but they’re there). I saved that photo, imported into Inkscape, traced the bit map, and exported to SVG. That was imported into SheetCam and out came a nice piece of metal representing the Arch. I’ve since done a similar thing with Laser ‘engraved’ coaster:

Affinity Photo is a great program, it costs about $45USD with a one-time, lifetime purchase. I highly recommend it and its sibling, Affinity Designer.


Thanks for all the info!

Ah, engraved tiles :slightly_smiling_face: Have you tried the Norton method on those? Nice results without messing around with inking the engrave after it comes out of the machine. I have about 300 of those tiles leftover from a project I did.

I also have some Laser Tile that has a coating that fuses black. They’re fairly expensive and the vendor is incredibly slow (if he’s still selling - something that’s kind of unknown right now) and the Norton method gets as good results on the cheap HD tiles.

Yeah, that’s the method I used. Rust-Oleum 2X Satin white. Spray it on, 15 minutes to dry, expose, clean it off with lacquer thinner, bake for 1-2 hours to get rid of VOCs. Easy peasy.

There’s some new info that suspending TiO2 powder in Alcohol, spraying it or spinning it on to an even layer, does the same thing without the messy clean up (other than washing off the unexposed powder with soap and water). I’m waiting for the results of tests some of the guys are doing over at LightBurn. I have a paper design for a spinner, just need to know the spin speed before building it.

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yah…like he said…exactly that…say whaaaaat?