Convert 2D Design to 3D Design
Three common methods exist for converting two-dimensional (2D) designs for manipulation and display in a three dimensional (3D) design application. One method reproduces a 3D object from 2D top, side and front views of that object. The second method converts 2D designs that will remain two dimensional in virtual 3D space, such as a company’s logo that will appear on a simulated 3D billboard. The third method is for turning “height maps,” whose color values represent elevations for re-creating terrains into virtual terrain objects.
1. Get or create accurate top, front and side orthographic views of the object you want to convert. Orthographic views are those without perspective distortion; objects stay the same size regardless of their distance from the viewing plane. Convert these views to a common image file format, such as JPEG, BMP or PNG. Find sources of orthographic or near-orthographic views in blueprints, schematics, or photographs taken with a zoom lens.
2. Create projection planes in your 3D design application that will display each of the views in step 1. Size the dimensions of each plane to the image file for that plane. For example, size a design app’s projection plane to 200-by-380 inches, meters, or generic units for a 200-by-380 pixel image file.
3. Assemble a diorama of the projection planes so the parts displayed in each plane line up with parts in the other planes. For example, the top of a character’s head in the front projection plane must be at the same height as the head in the side plane.
4. Create a band of connected polygons that trace a clear outline displayed in one of the projection planes. Make each polygon have the same width, so the resulting band resembles a cross section or “slice” of the original design.
5. Repeat step 4 to create more cross-section bands of polygons, each connecting to the previous one. Fit the bands to each other by referring to the front, side and top views of your 2D design.
6. Assign colors and textures to the assembled cross section bands that match those of the original design.
7. Create or get an image file (in JPEG, PNG, BMP or other common format) of the 2D design. Digital cameras can produce these formats.
8. Create any virtual object in your 3D design application (e.g. cube, plane, sphere, torus). Refer to your app’s documentation for the location of the object-creation commands.
9. Create new material in the materials editor of the 3D design app. Load the 2D design’s image file and assign that image to the material.
10. Assign the new material displaying your 2D design to the object you created in step 2 of this section. View the converted design in your 3D app’s main window.
11. Get or create an image file representing a height map. See Resources for sources of height maps.
12. Create a plane object in your 3D design app and add a modifier to it that deforms surfaces based on height-map values. Read your 3D app’s documentation to determine the correct modifier. Use the following terms in searching the help file for it: “terrain” and “height map.”
13. Attach the height map file from step 1 to step 2’s modifier. Watch for the resulting terrain object in your 3D app’s main display window. Adjust the virtual terrain through the modifier’s parameters.