Color mapping is a method of assigning different speed and power settings to different parts of an image based on colors. For example, you could make all red pixels engrave at a much higher power than blue pixels, which would make the red areas of your design much more pronounced. This works with both engravings and cuts, so you could have a single job cut through some areas with stronger settings and use weaker settings to create outlines or perforations in other areas.
Color mapping is useful in two situations - when you want different settings applied to different areas of a design, and when you want to control the order that sections are engraved and/or cut.
In the first situation, color mapping can be used to save time by not needing to set up multiple jobs. For example, in the below project, there are three different levels of shadings for the stars, due to each type having their own speed and power settings. Additionally, vector edging is used to create a border around the stars, while a different vector setting is used to cut out the entire object.
The design was created with the intention of using color mapping, so each piece was colored based on which setting would be used.
The project could have been completed without color mapping, however it would have required at least three separate images (one for each type of star) and four jobs (one for each engraving & edging, and one more for cutting out the square).
Another use for color mapping is to assign colors to your design based on the order that you want areas to be engraved. In the below project, we can save time by engraving each of the columns one at a time (see Raster Optimization for why this happens). This works because the laser goes through each mapped color in order, one at a time.
This works well for vector lines as well since you can use color mapping to cut interior lines first and then exterior lines last.
There are two things to keep in mind when setting up a color map:
Before you begin, you will need to have your image colored appropriately. Once the images are ready, lay them out in the software as needed and then open the Epilog print driver settings.
If you need to edit a setting, select it on the list, change the settings, and then click the right arrow below the plus icon to update the setting.
It is very important to double check your settings before sending a color mapped job to the laser. The most common errors when trying to use a color map are: