Engineering a 2D Printed Logo Into a 3D Object




This project describes how to turn an image of a logo into a printable 3D object

Tools: Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Autodesk 123D Design

No drawing required!

Instructions Courtesy of Rick Valdez

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Step 1: Open Original Image in Adobe Photoshop

Open image of logo in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2: Adjust Levels

A. Open the Levels dialog box (Command-L)
B. Slide the left arrow in the histogram to the right to increase contrast

Step 3: Select Outer Area of Image

A. Select a square of the outer area
B. Choose “Similar” from the Select menu

Step 4: Clear the Background

Select “Clear” from the Edit menu

Step 5: Save Image As PSD

Save the image without the background as a Photoshop file

Step 6: Open File in Adobe Illustrator

Open the Photoshop PSD file in Adobe Illustrator

Step 7: Use Image Trace to Create Outline

A. Using the Magic Wand Tool, click on the image of the elephant
B. Select “Image Trace” from the Windows menu

Step 8: Activate Image Trace

Click the “Image Trace” button

Step 9: Expand to Add Bezier Curve

Click the “Expand” button

Step 10: Stroke Bezier Curve

A. IMPORTANT: Add 1 pt. stroke
B. Choose zero Fill to check

Step 11: Isolate the Logo

A. Select the white arrow Direct Selection Tool
B. Surround the logo with the tool to highlight all the points
C. Copy the logo to the Clipboard (command-C)

Step 12: Paste Clean Logo Into New Document

A. Open a new document
B. Paste the logo into the new document. Ensure that the bounding box only includes the logo.

Step 13: Save for Export

Save a copy as Format: Illustrator EPS

Step 14: Launch 123D Design Online

A. Launch Autodesk’s
B. Select “Launch 123D Design Online”

Step 15: Import EPS

Select “Import...” from the File menu

Step 16: Image Placement

The image is placed

Step 17: Selecting Press/Pull Menu

A. Move the model and magnify in
B. Select “Press/Pull” from under Finishing Tools

Step 18: Extrude Model

Pull the controls to add dimension to the EPS file.

Step 19: Save File to Autodesk Cloud

Save Project to Private storage
( Requires free Autodesk account )

Step 20: Open in Autodesk 123D Design APP

A. Open the Autodesk 123D Design App ( Free application )
B. Show as “Materials and Outlines”

Step 21: Save As STL for Printing

Export as STL file

Note: Imported models have many data points. Expect slow response times.

Step 22: Send to Printer

Provide STL File to 3D Service Bureau or print on your own printer



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    18 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Hello, can anyone tell me why I cannot open an Illustrator EPS file into 123D Design. It doesn't seem to accept these kind of files...

    pat shammon

    5 years ago on Introduction

    Wow brilliant! I can see loads of potential in this technique. Could you use Sketch -Up instead of 123D Design to convert the image into an STL?

    2 replies
    psavaspat shammon

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I tried for DAYS to get Sketch-Up to do this; none of the plug-ins that purport to convert from 2D to 3D would work. And the only way to do it natively in Sketch-Up is to re-draw the object(s) using Sketch-Up's line and curve tools -- painful at best when you can just import into AI and use the tracing functionality there. I was able to accomplish what I needed in 30 minutes using this method, as opposed to failing for days in Sketch-Up.


    omg, the best way to do this by far is in
    it's super simple and free


    4 years ago on Step 7

    Hi there,

    I have tried over and over and over to get this to work. I have not had any luck with either the Autodesk online app part or importing the EPS Files. Is this an error on my part or did Autodesk change the types of files it will accept?


    1 reply

    4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! This article show me a good example. I know how to create
    2d bar code
    object, but now I want to create a 3d bar code object, I'll try it now.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Do you mind if I remix this into an Instructable that doesn't use Adobe products and instead uses free/open-source products? After Adobe's security breach this past weekend, I'm not comfortable with them having my info and money.

    2 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I'm curious - did you happen to make a free/open source alternative to the Adobe part of this instructable?


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I have a tutorial that does something similar using only free software, hope it helps


    5 years ago on Introduction

    OMG! THANK YOU SO MUCH for this 'ible! I have been trying to convert 2D to 3D for printing for DAYS, and have been unable to do so, until now. Within 30 minutes of reading this tutorial, my printer is working on the object. Thank you, thank you, thank you SO MUCH!

    P.S. You might want to update the AutoDesk steps, as they have changed their site a bit; I had to hunt for the online version of 123D, but it's still there. :)


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Great Tutorial! I'm having trouble getting the EPS file to import into autodesk. It keeps crashing on me. Is there specific options on saving the EPS file to make it more compatible with autodesk? Thanks!

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Hello mcahn - strangely, the EPS import trick only works with the WEB version of 123D Design ( Not even the desktop version of the same software will import it.

    Once imported into the Web version, the model can be saved in the native format and then opened in the 123d Design app.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Such an un-necessary hi-tech solution to a low-tech thing! You can do the same thing with a paper pattern, materials of thickness of choice and tools of choice! Why do it with a 3d printer?

    2 replies

    5 years ago

    I will call it 2.5D, not 3D. :)