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Example of using a surface of revolution to create a Celtic Vase STL model

Imagine you want to wrap a Celtic design as a relief map around a vase shape. i.e. you want to do this:

From celtic design to celtic vase

The first thing to do is choose your image. It is best if it is clean, like the one you see above left, though it does not have to be black and white. If you are going to wrap the image around a fattish object then a long image is probably better.

Next you need to set various PhotoToMesh settings in the main dialog. Here is what I used for the vase shown above:

General settings for STL creation

I found that if I want to use almost all the circumference of a cylinder, surface of revolution or sphere it is good to have a decent amount of X samples. You can see on the top left I've used 500 samples arund the circumference and 250 samples in the vertical height direction.

The "height" of the STL mesh is set to 2.00 (middle of the dialog) and this is how far the relief emerges from the surface of the object. I've set smoothing to 1, more on that here. The "Solid Shape" is set to "Revolution Mesh".

Before we go on to defining the shape you need to set "Vignette Settings...". What this does is specify how the image merges into the shape itself. I did not want the rectangular edges of the image to be visible in the mesh relief, which means that I must set the background greyscale to be the same color as the edges of the image. In this case, white. So clicking on Vignette Settings I used these settings:

Make the background white


You only need to worry about two things in this dialog in this case. Select "None" at the top (which means no vignetting) and "Background Greyscale" to 100% (0%=black, 100%=white). With these settings any parts of the object outside of the image area are considered white.

There is a button on the right of the main dialog called "Other parameters..." (or "Other settings..." depending on your version). Before clicking on that button make sure that "Solid Shape" is set to "Revolution Mesh". Now click on "Other parameters...".

Set the profile of revolution

As you move the sliders (or type in numbers) the profile will change. If the upper radius is bigger than the middle radius, and the middle radius is bigger than the lower radius, then you'll get a profile which is small at the bottom and wide at the top, as shown above.

If in addition you specify that the radii are connected by arcs (note the two combo boxes set to "Arc") then the connection from top to bottom will be an S-shape.

You need to do three more things before clicking on OK:

  1. Make sure that the "Solid Object" check box is not checked,
  2. Set the wall thickness to a reasonable value (like 3.0).
  3. Make sure the "Upper End" is not closed and the "Lower End" IS closed.

Now click on OK.

You have one last thing to do before you can create and print your STL surface of revolution vase, and that is place the image on the surface. So click on the "Image placement..." button in the main dialog to get this:

Place the photo on the 3D printing object

You can change the height position of the photo using the first vertical slider on the extreme left of the dialog. You can change the vertical size of the photo on the surface using the second vertical slider. The red rectangle is the photo. Since this is is a surface of revolution the position slider is disabled.

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