Replicating 2D object

I was wondering if anybody can point me in the right direction of replicating a 2D template. I’m looking to cut a dash panel for a plane out of 6061-T6. I use carbide create for basic design, but I will be using fusion 360 for this one. I’ve done some research but haven’t been on a find anything with respect to 2D objects, most of the information is on 3-D modeling. Basically, I’m wanting to take existing dash panel and copy the outline since it has a curved profile. I didn’t know the best way to take the existing design and model it in fusion 360. I appreciate any help as far as software, or techniques. It’s not something I want to spend a bunch of money on since I don’t do this often, but I would like to know how to do it for the future as well. Thanks!

I’ve never done it yet but if it was me I’d try setting it flat on a surface of a color that would provide much contrast to the item (ie. kind of like a green screen) and take a picture of it. Properly lining up for the picture is important to minimize any keystone effects. Then I’d take the picture into a software like “Inkscape” and use the “Path > Trace Bitmap” tool in order to get a vector graphic of the panel you are trying to reproduce.

Once this is done you can save it as a .svg file and import this directly into Fusion 360.

(Edit: Carbide Create also has the trace image option/feature so maybe that’s another route once you have the picture but mentioned the Fusion 360 route since that’s what you mentioned in the original post)

(Edit: Once I’d inspect it in Fusion 360 for measurements/accuracy I’d probably also cut it in a scrap piece and compare it to the original and make corrections in Fusion 360 as needed).

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Put it against a grey sheet of paper and photograph it w/ a ruler and redraw?

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Depending on the size of the item if it fits on a scanner (and no concern of scratching the glass bed) you could also get a digital image and as long as you maintain the DPI setting you should get an image true to size (accurate scale). That could be worth exploring as well.

(edit: if the item is larger than the scanner maybe you could also take a few scans with an overlap on each pass and align the images in software)


I appreciate the suggestion, I was kind of thinking the same thing. I’m just surprised if there’s nothing that does this in an automated fashion add a consumer level.

That was the method I’ve heard of in the past, just seems like with all the technology there would be a better way. But maybe not.

I was really wondering if the LiDAR scanner in my iPhone couldn’t provide some function there, but I think my understanding is it doesn’t have a high enough resolution.

3D scanning with a camera (photogrammetry) probably won’t get you the accuracy you need for this piece. Since it appears to be a flat piece of sheet metal, the approach I would take is to take a photo of the panel as flat as possible to avoid distortion, with a ruler next to it as a calibration guide for size.

Then import the image into graphics software and manually trace the shapes using the vector tools. Inkscape or Illustrator, for example could be used for this, however Fusion 360 is also capable, and would save an import step. You can use the various sketch tools: line, arc, spline, etc. to do this. Here’s just one of many YouTube videos on the subject. Fusion also make it really easy to scale to sketch to the correct size.

I find this to be a pretty easy way to make accurate copies of relatively flat pieces such as knife scales.

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Depending how wide it is scan it and make an svg out of it in inkscape. If it is too big to scan trace it and put a mark at like 8 inches and move over and scan again use boolean to join them after converting them.

If you’re going to photograph it then get it far away from the camera and zoom in or use a telephoto lens before taking the photo. Using a wide angle during camera capture will lead to increased distortion. I would personally use a flat-bed scanner or use it as a stencil onto paper and then use a digitizer (like Wacom with a cursor mouse).

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Unfortunately, the Wacom tracing pucks don’t seem to be supported anymore — I have one which I used to use w/ my Wacom ArtZ, and I’ve always regretted not getting a larger tablet which it would work on, but it wouldn’t work w/ my Intuos.

Thanks, that’s very helpful. I will probably go that route. I shot a photo over my self-healing mat, so that should give me scale. Tracing directly in fusion 360 probably gives me the easiest result.

It’s still just amazes me that with all the technology in something like an iPhone, you basically have to manually do a task like this.

For best vector creation you will want a high contrast monochrome image which is separated from the background. You may find lighting it and having a dark background is easier than making it dark on a lighter background. If your workpiece is no longer used, I would opt to paint it white and place it on a dark backround. This way you will have maximum contrast. You can paint it black which may be easier. Your aim is to turn the shape you have into a single tone.

In your image the top is raised off of the thing it is resting on, as is denoted by the shadows. This will not help you. Turn the workpiece over so that it can rest flat and place it on a background that is light or dark because you do not want the tones of the piece to match and be confused with the tones it is resting on.

If you have an SLR camera take it to a distance of around 12 feet with a short portrait telephoto lens on it and rest the camera on something if you do not have a tripod. It has to be kept still so that you can focus on the edges of the image nearest to you. You will need an aperture of f/8.0 to ensure front to back sharpness. Use a lens with the focal length of 85, 105 or 135mm. This type of lens will flatten the perspective so that it looks completely natural.

Shorter lenses like 50, 35 and 24mm will add a distortion at the edge sand this will affect the template image that you will vectorise. Without an SLR camera, use whatever phone or GoPro camera you have. Set it to its distance setting and capture the image from at least 6 feet away to flatten perspective.Then you will be able to digitally enlarge the image to actual size.

Size can be shown with a ruler placed next to you workpiece. Measure it accurately and you will find a lot of software lets you specify the size by ruler for printing. I would choose that method and print out the file and hold it to your workpiece to check the scale. Once you are happy, vectorise the image and carve.

Finally, if it came to it, you can plan the top curve and everything else is just holes for instruments with projects that are mainly holes. Accurately measure the centres of each feature and you could probably draw everything but the complex curve. when everything is cut, you could probably transfer the curve directly on the material to be cut.

A last approach would be to place the flat side of your template onto the material you want to cut and clamp it with a few toolmakers clamps. A sharp scribe will mark all of the features you need. You will have to use a single point as your datum and measure every thing accurately. Transfer the measured values into your drawing. Then cut the material.
I have never seen a 3D scanner in the hands of mere mortals that will do what you need.


Thanks for the detailed reply, I definitely used some of your suggestions. I did re-shoot my photos with a larger zoom lens, which did help with the lens distortion. I ended up shooting it on a self healing ruler mat, using the 50 mm Zoom lens on my iPhone. I turned on the grids and shot straight down. That allowed me to line up the grids on the phone with the grids on the mat, the phone also provides a indicator when it’s level.

From there I imported it into fusion 360 as a canvas. I didn’t realize the function was in there, but I found the calibrate tool under the canvas. That allowed me to set two points from the dimensions on the mat and calibrate those to the correct size for a perfect scale. I just use the vector tools and fusion 360 which work pretty well. I was able to trace it with a really high degree of accuracy and it looks really good. Most importantly, once I figured out the process it only took a few minutes to trace.

Thanks for the help from everyone, hopefully this helps somebody in the future.


No worries. Nice to see you managed to get it done.

Chin up, Will!

In truth, I always feel slight anguish when you add more to The Regretful Life of Will Adams. I know it’s just a turn of phrase, but I imagine you sitting in a darkened room each evening, slowly draining a bottle of scotch, mulling over lost opportunities. At least in my imagination it’s a very good bottle of scotch, and the regrets surrounding the scotch are delayed until the morning’s headache :slight_smile:

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I’d regret not getting the larger tablet more if I could be troubled to connect and use my Wacom ArtZ — but part of the justification for not using it is it’s not quite as large as the Special Edition Intuos I couldn’t resist buying (and for which I’ve always been disappointed that there wasn’t a tracing puck made for).

That said, I still have it tucked away safely, as well as the tracing puck, and one of these days I’ll see what’s available on eBay (big thing is I have multiples of the power transformers which were always a point of failure) and when I have a project which actually needs tracing, will manage w/ it or a larger replacement.

Until then, I picked up several packs of HDPE puzzle cutting sheets which have a grid imprinted on them at a bargain price (unfortunately, didn’t get as many of the self-healing puzzle cutting mats I’d prefer as I wanted since they were discontinued) so should be good to go. (And this sort of thing reminds me of a very wise co-worker who noted that owning things results in an obligation to care for them and manage them).

One lesson I learned pretty early was drinking because of regret or troubles is a losing game — I try to only drink to celebrate or for social occasions, and always heeding the old Korean saying:

The man drinks the first bottle, the second bottle drinks the man.

That said, I get a big kick out of the regularly scheduled cocktail hour in H. Beam Piper’s works, and always thought the end of year situation for the protagonist of Murder in the Gunroom was admirable, and I do have specific instructions in my will for what to do w/ my liquor collection at my passing (the unopened bottles are to be distributed to my funeral detail — that’s actually been something of a brake on my drinking, since I have to have at least a baker’s dozen unopened assuming a full team). Not quite a tontine, but close.

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I picked up an Intuos2 12"x18" with pen on eBay and found a BNIB “Lens cursor” XC-210 to go with it. I think the whole setup cost me about £35 in Jan 2019. It’s not officially supported any more but I had it working fine on Windows 10. Unfortunately, it’s locked-in at our Makerspace until that reopens next month :sob: Anyway, it’s great for getting designs into the PC for their laser cutter (and now my Nomad at home)

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Good point, getting a N.O.S. lens cursor for the Intuos is probably a lot easier.