How to Render a 2D Design to a 3D Design

By Darrin Koltow

3D modeling programs can convert 2D designs through extrusion or other methods.
i 3D image by Eagle from

Artists can render a 3D design from a 2D one with a 3D modeling program. After producing a 2D design, an artist will use the 3D modeling program's tools to project the design into 3D space. This process involves additional design decisions because there are many ways to convert 2D to 3D and different ways to produce various effects. For example, a company logo projected onto a sphere (a basic 3D solid) will appear very differently than the same logo projected onto corrugated sheet metal. The potential advantage of a 3D design is increased visual interest, resulting from a depiction that more closely approximates human vision.

Convert a 2D to a 3D Design with Bitmaps

Get or make a 2D graphic file (e.g., JPEG, BMP, GIF) from the 2D design you want to render as a 3D.

Open your 3D modeling program, then click its tool for opening the texture editor. This step will apply 2D images onto 3D surfaces.

Click the texture editor's "bitmap" button. Navigate to and open the 2D image from step 1.

Click the "Create" menu and then click any of the primitives--the sphere, cone, cylinder or box-- displayed in the menu.

Click and drag in the main drawing window to grow the primitive to any size.

In the texture editor, click on the 2D image you loaded in step 3. Drag the image onto the primitive you made in step 5. The design will now be displayed on the primitive.

Click the toolbar's "Render" function to produce a shaded image of the 3D design.

Create a 3D Design from Extrusion

Complete steps 1 through 3 from the previous section. This step will load the 2D design into the texture editor.

Click the "Create" menu and then click the "Plane" object to enter the mode from defining flat surfaces. By doing so, you will trace the 2D design projected onto this surface to produce the 3D design.

Drag in the drawing window to define the plane and then drag the texture editor's 2D design (which you loaded in step 1) onto the plane. This step will display the image onto the plane for you to trace.

Click the line drawing tool and then drag the mouse pointer over the outline of the 2D design. Be sure that the end of the line connects with its starting point, which is needed to convert the 2D shape into a 3D.

Click the closed line (actually a shape) that you completed in the last step. Click the "Extrusion" modifier, which is a tool that expands 2D shapes into 3D surfaces. The shape will expand to three dimensions.

Click the "Render" function to produce a shaded image of the new 3D object.