Converting images into 3D Models
Having been involved in 3D printing on a daily basis for about 5 years now, one of the most common requests we get is, “Can you 3d print my logo?”. By the way, the second most common question we get asked, “Can you take this single 2D photo of my cat and provide me with a full 3d printed (in colour of course) model of my cat”. The answer to the first question is doable and that is what this article is about. The answer to the second question is, well, you’ll need to ask Marty McFly.
Converting a 2D logo into 3D object used to be one of the most frustrating and laborious tasks. Thanks to new software and free services it is now a very easy process. Having an easy conversion relies solely on the 2D image having solid colours. Software for achieving this has come a long way and this used to involve tedious procedures and mentally draining.
There are literally hundreds of thousands of clipart images that would look amazing 3D printed, from logos of your favourite car, sports team or your company logo.
So after 5 years of doing this long and tiring process of importing the clipart into Coreldraw, exporting as a DWG, then importing in 3D CAD software, fixing the design, extruding the shape, then exporting as an STL file, then print. Okay so if I lost you there, then you are starting to feel my pain. Once you learn the tricks of what I am about to show you, you will never want to go back.
With thanks to a bit of Googling I figured out an excellent workflow that makes 3D printing a logo incredibly easy. So easy in fact anybody can convert their favourite logo into a printable 3D keyring or phone cover! It doesn’t have to be a logo, it can be any line type drawn image, but you’ll soon learn the limitations with a bit of trial and error.
This is an overview of the process:
- Find your desired logo 2.) Convert the image to an SVG with a free online tool 3.) Import into Tinkercad, another free browser-based tool, and you’re done! You don’t even need to download anything or install any software to achieve it!
Now, let’s get down to business and I’ll show you how you can 3D print your favourite logos painlessly.
First, you want to select an image that just uses solid colours without any gradients or shadows (just like the Ferrari logo on the right). Don’t forget you might need to seek permission of the image owner. Most common desktop 3D printers only print in one colour at a time. So if you only want a single colour logo then this is very easy to do.
- Do a Google Image search and find yourself an image to convert, we got this Ferrari logo
- Copy the URL link of the image into your clipboard
- Visit this website: https://convertio.co/jpg-svg/
- Click “Add from URL”,
paste your URL that you copied in step 2, click “CONVERT”
- Once processed, right click on “Download” and copy the converted URL into your clipboard.
- Open https://www.tinkercad.com (You’ll need to login or signup for a free account)
In Tinkercad on the right hand side, select IMPORT, then select URL, then paste your converted URL and click Import.
Notice how the yellow shield has been ignored and how the red bar and black are merged into one object. If you really want to fine tune your logo, fix it up in your photo editing software first.
To complete the simple logo and get it ready for printing, just put a back cover on the design and you are ready to print.
In the example, we put a 2mm back block behind the logo, otherwise the horse and initials would come loose after 3D printing.
A friend of mine goes nuts over tigers, so I’m going to customise a phone case for her. Once again I
found a cool design thanks to Google Image search, in Paint I selected an appropriate font, wrote her name and save it as a JPG file. Converted both of those to SVG using the online convertor. Found a phone case on Thingiverse and then imported them all into Tinkercad.
Having the ability to bring in any 2D shape and either add or subtract them from a huge range of available 3D models is like the customisers dream.
Leveling up your logo making skills!
I’m now going to show you how to do a four colour logo very easily using your desktop 3D printer and some photo editing software.
To get a better understanding how to achieve a four colour print with a single colour desktop 3D printer, we need to think about the design and break it into layered sections. Because red will be our Ferrari keyring background colour (I wish I had a Ferrari), we’ll start off with printing the red base for 2mm, then we’ll set the printer to pause at 2mm so we can change colour to green and so on. A nice feature of the UP 3D printers is you can just set a measurement in mm height where you want to pause the printer each time you need to change colours.
You are going to need photo editing software, like Photoshop or InkScape (free).
Fig. 1 Fig. 2 Fig. 3 Fig. 4
- Open the original image in your photo editing
software (Fig. 4).
- Using the magic wand tool, select all the red and delete it. We’ll manually add a full red background in Tinkercad later.
- Magicwand and select all the black objects and save that as a black.JPG file (Fig. 1).
- Magicwand the green and save that as a green.JPG file (Fig. 2).
- Magicwand the yellow, but you will need to paint in where you cut the black out to fill in the holes (Fig. 3). If we convert this file, it will most likely not convert as Yellow is a very light colour. So paint the shield black or a dark colour.
- So you should now have three files in total.
- Upload the three files from “My computer” and click “Convert”.
- The three files are ready to import intoTinkercad. Right click on the first download button and click “Copy link address”
- In Tinkercad select “Import”. Then paste each of the copied links and click “import”. Repeat until you have all files loaded.
- Select all of your parts and then scale them to your preferred size.
- I suggest you give each part a different colour so you can distinguish them easily.
- Set the base / red background at 2mm high from the ground plane
- Set the green bar at 4mm high from the ground plane
- Set the yellow shield at 6mm high from the ground plane
- Set the black logo at 8mm high from the ground plane
- Your design should look something like this
- Next select all the objects and group them as one, this will combine all the parts as one object.
- After combining them, you’ll loose all the colours, don’t worry this is fine. As long as each element is at a different height, then we’ll pause the 3d printer and change colours.
- Save the combined file as an STL
- Open your 3d printing software, in this example we are using the UP BOX.
- Enter in 2,4,6 for the dimensions at which to pause the printer. Have the following colours of filament ready in this order: red, yellow, green and finally black.
- Start by printing with red. Once the printer pauses, change to yellow and so on.
- The finished product!
You aren’t limited to just making logos. Why stop at this level of personalisation? How about sprucing up your home with this little project by using the same process as mentioned above.
Ever seen those nice “Love”, “Peace” and “Home” letter blocks at the stores but you wanted something a bit more personal and didn’t have access to woodwork equipment? Luckily you have your hands on a 3D printer!
Even the simple Microsoft Paint can get you started on this project, no need for the fancy stuff.
- Type out the text you want to make and choose your desired font. I chose the font “Broadway”. Make sure the font is black for file conversion. Save this as a .JPG file
- Upload the file from “My computer” and click “Convert”.
- Just like the previous tutorial, the file is now ready to be imported into Tinkercad. Right click on the download button and click “Copy link address”
- In Tinkercad select “Import”.Then paste the copied link and click “import”.
- Select the part and then scale it to your preferred size.
- Rotate the part 90 degrees so that it is standing upright.
- Copy the part and place it behind the original part.
Highlight the back piece and Mirror the part. Group the two parts together
- Draw a base a bit bigger than the words as this will serve as your base.
- Set the words just sitting above the base.
- Select all the parts and group them together to combine.
- Save the combined file as an STL ready for printing.
- Now you have your very own letter holder that you look from both sides! Of course, you can skip step 7 if you just want a simple letter block dedicated to your cat, your wishes or your favourite character from your favourite book.
I hope you found this process helpful, please share with me your custom creations!