View Full Version : 2D to 3D STL Files

01-03-2015, 07:03 AM
A rewrite of Info and methods for converting a 2D Images to 3D STL files for printing.

After experimenting with different apps I have come to a few conclusions :

There is just not enough information in a normal 2D colour photo to create a true 3D Object to print.
You can how-ever make Lithopanes EG: Embossed surfaces
Here’s a search on ThingiVerse for examples of Lithopane’s (http://www.thingiverse.com/search?q=Lithopane&sa=) to show whats possible.

Creating a STL file from a Image or drawing is quiet viable with some Caveats:
For good results its best if images / drawings are Hi Detailed & Hi-Contrast
EG: Black & White. they must also be a solid meaning connected here are some examples

This side will not print…….…..This side will print

with all these examples images black is what will print

Here are examples of other Images that Ive used.

Download these IMAGES SVG & STL Ive used from my DROPBOX (https://www.dropbox.com/s/5p5dghi9qt3lsy5/examples.zip?dl=0) (9.5 mb Zip)

Get or create your image
If necessary correct them in Image Editor EG : Photoshop to the results you want
Resize Image to 72 Dpi and disire size you want I convert to grey scale and save
Save it as either a JPG / PNG / BMP with no compression then proceed to making a SVG file

STEP 1 - Convert image to SVG with Vector Magic…Inkscape…SketchUp…Illustrator

Vector Magic (Comercial) - Video DROPBOX (https://www.dropbox.com/s/4e49ubnqv7mkvo1/VectorMagic.mov?dl=0) (my preferred option)
Ive settled on Vector Magic for this demo its Fast Simple & gives good results with minimal effort.

InkScape (Free)
Paste your image, select it, and then go to "Path" --> "Trace Bitmap"
Change the thresholds of how it determines to create the path. You can push "Update" to preview the path. Only push "OK" once as it will create a path. Once you push ok, then close the window.
Changing the "Colours" to less than 8 helpful as well as "Colour quantisation" and "Invert Image"
Finally save you selected path as an .SVG file.

SketchUp and Plugins (Free)
You need SketchUp and a plugin called SketchUp STL
Import your image……best if you are using a JPG or TIF..…Choose File -> Import ……Choose your image.
After you have imported Image, the next step is to trace the logo using the line and arc tools..…This can take awhile depending how complex your Image is !
Once everything is traced, if you did it properly you should see that some of the spaces filled in.
If not you may have a hole somewhere. You may have to look a little close to find it.
One trick I found that helps is drawing a line between the part that is supposed to be filled in. If it doesn't fill both sides you have a hole.
At this point you can delete the image from SketchUp. What you have now can be saved as a SVG file or Continue
Use this Push/Pull tool to raise/lower parts of your image..…You can add a base if you wish by making a square under your drawing.
Once you have a SVG file the next step is to Create a STL file ready to print!
Choose File -> Export STL.…Choose yes when it asks to export the entire module.

Adobe Illustrator(Comercial)
Import your image into Adobe Illustrator…Convert your image to a path by pushing " Image Trace". Then Push "Expand".
Advanced settings for "Image Trace" in the triangle button to the right of "Image Trace"
Double Click on your image and then start deleting unwanted paths.
Clicked+dragged on the white areas of image and deleted them, leaving you with only the paths that make up the black area.)
You can also just choose the paths that you want. Either method works, Delete everything you don't want.
Save your path as an .SVG file. This type of file can be imported into just about any 3D modelling software.

STEP 2 - Convert SVG to STL with TinkerCAD…123D Design…SketchUp…Blender…Photoshop
Don’t worry to much about finished size this can be corrected in Cura / Repetier / Simplify3D by adjusting XYZ

TinkerCad (Free) - www.tinkercad.com (http://www.tinkercad.com) - Video DROPBOX (https://www.dropbox.com/s/hyp8swpfnfq48cr/TinkerCad.mov?dl=0) (my preferred option)
Create Account
Create New Design
From Side Menu Import
Select your SVG File choose a % size and thickness & IMPORT (I use about 30% and then resize)
Scale STL File to desired dimensions (Holding Shift-Key will Constrain Proportions)
Save STL go to Menu DESIGN and select Download.for.3D.Printing
this will give you the option of STL OBJ and others & your done.

Autodesk 123D Design (Free) - Video DROPBOX (https://www.dropbox.com/s/ba29mex72n3jqhl/123D.mov?dl=0) (my preferred option)
Go to Menu - Import SVG you have 2 Options As Sketch or As Solid - Choose As Sketch (my preferred )
You can use solid,& delete the parts you choose.
Once Loaded Consider this as you Template.
Go to Menu select Construct - Extrude
Select the Template (SVG) this will give you the Option of extruding it manually or Input a dimension.
Once this is done move the Extruded Object so you can select Template and delete it.
Then Go to Menu Export STL & your done.

Blender (Free)
Import your SVG file. You may need to scale your paths because they often import extremely small.
You can do this by pushing [S] and typing a number such as 2000... and just add zeros to that number until you see your paths.
Optional:If your paths did not turn out as expected, then you can go back into Illustrator and try to make or edit the paths.
(Also you can use the Edit Mode of Blender you can modify the paths.)
If you are happy with the path, then convert your paths into a mesh. [Alt]+[C] in Object Mode. You may need to join your paths as one object, or convert multiple times.
Now your path has geometry to model with. In my case I will select all the vertices and then extrude them upward.
You can change material colour from black to some other colour so its better to see. You model will be whatever colour your path was as a SVG file.

Photoshop (Comercial)
Make sure you choose RGB Colour not CMYK when starting a new project in Photoshop, otherwise the 3D function will not work.
Paste your path…In the top window choose 3D--> New Extrusion from Path. This will make your path a 3d model…Modify the 3d model.

Finally theres a MatterControl plugin…Image Converter……..INFO (http://www.matterhackers.com/articles/image-converter-to-the-rescue)….Its a In App Purchase $15.00
Click on Create this brings up Design Add-Ons there is also a Text Creator Built in

File Repair
Depending on the complexity, you may need to repair a STL file
I am Using Simplify3D to repair my files but if you do not have it Try NetFabb
Upload your file to http://cloud.netfabb.com (http://cloud.netfabb.com/). it will repair the file for you.
After a few minutes you should receive an email with a download link to the repaired file.

Hope this is useful any question just ask :)

01-03-2015, 11:04 AM
Thanks, I'll stick the post!

I shall ask you don't abuse of CENTER text feature hahaha it it makes it difficult to read, specially on long posts ;)

01-07-2015, 01:09 PM
Dont forget to send some screenshots of your own stuff done with the above method ;) and printed results too of course ;)

01-23-2015, 03:58 PM
I completely rewritten this post and updated it with Videos for some Apps and the source IMAGES, SVG file & STL files created for you to download

For a limited time if you PM me a image (PNG or JPG) that you want i will convert it into a SVG file so you can create you own STL using the methods I've described in update

Please read before sending files

Cheers :cool:

04-16-2015, 04:33 PM
As far as I know the best tool for doing this is www.selva3d.com (http://www.selva3d.com).
It's done only in a single step and it's free :)

07-18-2022, 08:12 AM
For someone who is just learning the fundamentals of logo design, this discussion is really helpful. I frequently browse the internet to learn about logo design, and I truly value posts like these.