The process I use for my photo carvings is ;
I always surface cut the material surface to be sure that it is dead flat, and then cut the project. After cutting I lightly sand with 220 grit paper. I then use a fine steel brush or stiff tooth brush and brush going with the cut to remove lose pieces. Then I use Bulls eye clear Shellac and work a very thin coat with a fine bristle brush into everything and the surface, I do that 3 times but do not sand between coats, shellac needs to be very dry between coats. The Shellac prevents bleed through. I then use 2" wide painters tape and block off areas To keep the amount I have to sand down. I spray paint with a cheap fast drying paint ( I used Valspar plastic paint from Lowes on this one ) I paint 2 times letting it dry between coats, which is real important, the first projects I did I rushed and results were not as good. I let dry for about 6 hours, lightly sand with 120 grit and then 220 grit to remove the excess paint. I then air blow it out and lightly use a tooth brush to be sure their is no grit left. This one I finished with 2 coats of Minwax fast drying Polyurethane clear satin, I brush the Poly on lightly and with the grain I did not sand between coats on this one.
I used a 2 flute 60 degree cutter at about 20,000 rpm and a feed rate of 40 IPM and plunge rate of 15 IPM.
Something I do in Photo carve is to work on the project, increase the size on the screen to match the finished part size. I get up and view it from about 10 foot away to see how I "feel about it " if I do not like the way it looks I change my settings and then step away again.
Here is a screen shot of the settings I used, if you need anymore info just let me know. Also the Blank I used for the clock is sold by Lowes for less than.$10.00