How to Convert Photos to 3D Models

by Brenda Barron ; Updated September 22, 2017

Items you will need

  • CAD software

  • Photo on your computer

Having photos of a special event or your latest sightseeing expedition is fine, but you may find yourself wanting more. If that is the case, you can convert your current photos into 3D models. Not only will this add perspective and dimension to your images, but it can help you see your photos in a brand new light.

Start your CAD software on your computer, and make a new object plane. Match the new object plane measurements with your photo's measurements. If your photo is 1000 by 800 pixels then the object plane needs to be 1000 by 800 units.

Start your CAD software's material editor, loading your photo file to the material slot. Highlight the photo in the material slot and select “Apply.” This will attach the photo to the object plane.

Create a new object plane that matches the last in size, and place it over the one you made, previously. This new object will be the photo's 3D form. Change the transparency of the new object, until you can see through it to the image behind it. This can be done by right-clicking the object and adjusting its properties.

Select your CAD software's “Cut” tool from the tool panel. Trace the outline of your photo onto the transparent object plane. You only want to trace the basic shapes to outline it.

Click on the CAD software's “Selection” tool and select the sections of the plane outside of the tracing you have made. Delete them. Select the sections left and click on your software's extrusion tool. This tool will use the photo to stretch over the 3D shape you have traced.

Adjust the model's depth, so it is close to matching its height. This will vary between photos and will require your best judgment. When you have the result you are happy with, click on “Apply” or “Set” to leave the extrusion tool.

Finish by using the “Cut” tool to trace out details, and use a mix of deleting shapes and extrusion to refine the finer details in the photo. Save the file when you are ready, and render the 3D model, if needed.

About the Author

Brenda Barron is a writer, editor and researcher based in Southern California. She has worked as a writer since 2004, with work appearing in online and print publications such as BabyZone, "Cat Fancy" and "ePregnancy." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from California State University, Long Beach.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera la photo image by Richard villalon from Fotolia.com