Step 1: Make an .svg file of the shape you want to extrude
To get a vector graphic you have three options:
- Download it. You could use Google Advanced Image Search and limit your search to .svg files, a common vector graphics format on the web. You want to make sure you have permission before you use anyone else's drawings, though.
- Draw it yourself. Use Inkscape, Illustrator, CorelDRAW, or any of the many other vector graphics applications. Drawing vector graphics is its own topic worthy of many instructables.
- Make a digital trace. If you do have a raster image (bitmap), then you can convert it to a vector graphic with Illustrator's live trace or Inkscape's trace features, which are fun to play with. Keep in mind that these features are not magic, and you'll have to fiddle around a lot to get the graphic right.
Step 2: Convert the .svg to OpenSCAD format
Download the paths2openscad script at GitHub.
Move the script to your ~/.config/inkscape/extensions folder.
Now you're ready to render.