I want to engrave a geometric shape into a wooden surface even deeper and deeper down. It should create an effect of "infinity" and the optical illusion should be created that the form is embossed deeper and deeper into the wood.

Therefore, I first created the star shape in Illustrator. Then I applied the transform effect to it (horizontal / vertical sacle 75% / 12 copies). This resulted in picture (1) shown below

Secondly, I followed the instructions from this youtube video to create the engraving effect that you see in picture (2) below: See Video Here

The result doesnt look too bad, but it is not the result that I want as the engravings are always the same depth. What I want is, that it must look as if the engravings are carved deeper and deeper into the wood. How can this effect be achieved?

I hope my explanations are understandable and it is clear what effect I want to achieve.

Many thanks for all your valuable and highly appreciated advice!!!!

And an additional question: I created the basic figure in Illustrator with the transform effect. Is it possible to create the same effect also in Photoshop?

Illustrator Graph with Transform Filter

Photoshop Edited Engrave Effect

Additional example how it currently looks like. But as already said, not the desired result, as the engravings should go deeper and deeper down into the wooden surface

enter image description here


2 Answers 2


The screen resolution and nearly black burning result do not allow any fine shadings. You can get some distinguishable depth levels more if there's no charcoal grooves, but the carved hole is like an embanked open pit mine - the next star is cut in the middle of the floor of the previous star.

That doesn't make it easier to be seen as 3D. A non-perpedicular viewing dierection helps. The already mentioned "less light in deeper levels" also helps. Here's a not so polished attempt to apply these tricks:

enter image description here

That's poor, because the vertical edges are only colored, there's no crosscut wood and I used a single wood texture overlay image to colorize every floor level. A real wood is different in every depth level.

Another approach to get some depth is to make a cross-eye stereogram. Human brains (only those who can be fooled easily) generate a perpendicular stereo view from 2 oppositely tilted views (no attempt to have a wood texture):

enter image description here

  • Now I'm dizzy. Thanks. Good one. 😉
    – Wolff
    Commented Aug 24, 2023 at 16:15

Let me explore the elements that suggest us depth of an engraving. Forget the wood texture. Just add that at the end.

What implies more depth in these two images?

enter image description here

Number 1. If the hole is deeper It would have a more offset shadow.

Now Let me duplicate the star with the effect inside and see what happens.

enter image description here

As the shadow also shrinks with each iteration of the star, it looks less deep than the bigger one, because the shadow has less offset.

This partially answers your question but in the wrong way. Let us correct that.

This means that we need to manually offset the shadow on each iteration incrementally.

enter image description here

Let us add one more element. The deeper the hole the less light it receives.

enter image description here

Now let's combine the two. Shadow and darker.

enter image description here

Now let's add water... I mean wood and adjust the darkness of the stars. (I did a lazy job on the values of the shadow and the darkening)

enter image description here

As your original wood is too dark it will probably be less noticeable. Play with the values.

An additional small change. The deeper the hole, the wood texture would be different. I added an incremental offset on the interior of each star. With some more work, it would look better.

enter image description here

Note that your image looks laser burned, not engraved by a Router. The burn would make the wood darker. Probably instead of black use dark brown.

Here is a version with only the shadow offset.

enter image description here

  • I tested this on a real piece of wood, and taht's what it initially looks like. However there is a point three to four engravings in when it really stops looking any different. So it seems to me that this is one of those things that looks good in your real mind but does not seem to translate to reality very well
    – joojaa
    Commented Aug 25, 2023 at 5:47
  • Yeap. That is why using a darker tone of gray would be useful to exaggerate it a bit. But even I did so little number because you reach a look that will not progress to look any different. I'll make a comment about that.
    – Rafael
    Commented Aug 25, 2023 at 17:40

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