3D Object from a 2D picture

A few weeks ago, my wife and daughters were out of town.  I missed them a little so I decided to try to figure out how to turn one of their pictures into a 3D object on my Makerbot Replicator printer.  

I stumbled across a cool program called PhotoToMesh.  This program converts 2D pictures into 3D surface mesh files, which can then be printed.  

Here are the results of my first try:



The image on the left is a picture of my daughter Ellen in front of an Arborvitae.  The image on the right is the output from Photo2Mesh.  It did a really nice job except for areas of really high contrast like her open mouth and eyes.  

I then printed this in black ABS at 80 micron resolution, and here are the results.


Not too bad.  I was pretty pleased with the outcome.  I drilled a hole in the back and glued in a magnet.  

But I wondered if I could do a little bit better and push the printer a little bit more.  This time I found a picture of both of my girls together with Ellen looking to the side and Violet looking straight ahead.  The software did a great job with Ellen’s profile and a pretty good job with Violet.  

Here are the results:



The picture of the printed object doesn’t really do it justice, but I’m pretty pleased with the outcome.  As you can see, I made it into a keychain.  

Matthew Gorton
Matthew Gorton


Matthew Gorton is the founder of He is a mechanical / materials engineer by education and has worked as a design, process and quality engineer in the medical, electronics, and aerospace industries. He is enthusiastic about applying all he has learned through these experiences to 3D printing and sharing that with others.

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