Help creating a png for 3d carving

Can anyone point me in the right direction. I am trying to figure out how (or if it’s even possible) to produce a png or greyscale image from a picture to enable me to carve a 3d (or even 2.5d) plaque.
I’ve tried a few online tools but the results are very bumpy/not smooth enough to be able to carve.


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Hi @Russ,

In 99% of the cases it’s not possible to derive height information from a regular picture. Even though they look like grayscale pictures, heightmaps are just a completely different concept where each pixel encodes a height (the lighter, the higher), rather than a reflected light intensity (as in a regular picture)

In a very limited number of cases you may get lucky and be able to create an “interesting” heightmap from a bitmap picture, but mostly you will be disappointed.

2.5D is doable manually, if you vectorize the input image and then create toolpaths of different depths for different parts of the image, but that is quite tedious and only practical for very simple pictures. I did something like this in this example.

For real 3D, your best bet is to search for a 3D model (STL) and then convert that to a heightmap using @fenrus tools, and import than in CC Pro to create 3D toolpaths.

Hi Julien

Thanks for the reply. I thought that may be the case. I have carved this stadium for a friend and was hoping to add the plaque above to finish it off, just seemed a shame to do a flat carving if 3d was somehow possible.


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@Russ you may also come across lithophanes (some good online tools) which convert a regular 2D picture to 3D height, but it’s still light based. Essentially the darker the “pixel” the thicker it will end up. If you mill translucent plastic it can be a cool effect.

Modern phones sometimes have enough grayscale depth (portrait mode), but I haven’t seen tooling to extract that for machining.

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