Hey there! I hope you’re having a great day. Today, we’re going to take a pencil drawing and convert it into a real, solid, wooden, 3D-printed thing.

Song of the Day!


Pencil Drawing to Vector Graphic

I started with this excellent drawing of a platypus by DeviantArt user blueroseval13.

Once I had the drawing I wanted to print, I brought it into Photoshop. I went into the Select menu and chose Color Range, which allowed me to select parts of the drawing based on their color. I brought the Fuzziness up to 200 (the maximum) to select every edge of the drawing.



Result after pasting into a new file and cleaning it up
Result after pasting into a new file and cleaning it up


I saved this new, cleaned-up drawing, and found an excellent site that converts images to the SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) format that can be used by our 3D modeling software.

Edit: Reddit user Sonrisa3D says:

MatterControl image converter works well also. Another tool in the toolbox.

Thanks, Sonrisa3D!

Vector Graphic to 3D Model

After converting it to SVG, we can bring it into TinkerCad (a very simple 3D modeling webapp). After opening a new file in TinkerCad, we can select Import and choose our newly-created SVG, and it’ll look something like this:



3D Model to Real, Actual Thing

Now, we can click Design -> Download for 3D Printing and bring it into our slicer software that tells the printer what to print. Then, I scaled it to fit on my printer and hit print!

3D printing works by building up really small layers over a long period of time. Since this model was pretty boring to watch, here’s one of my more interesting prints, a model of the city of Winterfell from Game of Thrones:


…And Finally!

Testing the print with various settings.
Testing the print with various settings.

As you can see above, I ran the print job a few times with different settings and materials to finally get the results I wanted. I started with some PETG I had laying around, and then switched to Wood once I knew it would print. I could have probably switched later and saved myself some money, but I didn’t realize how many times it would take to get the look I wanted. I didn’t think about making the walls more pronounced until a bit later, as you can see.

Let’s see how it looks on the computer to which I’m mounting it!


The print in its temporary home. I'm planning to mount LED lights behind it for a sweet glow, but this will do for now.
The print in its temporary home. I’m planning to mount LED lights behind it for a sweet glow, but this will do for now.


Which 3D printer are you using? 

Printrbot Simple Metal with Heated Bed. It’s a great starter printer, and I’m using it to print parts for my next 3D printer. 3D Printers printing 3D printers. Meta.

What materials can you print with?

Wood, BambooIron, Rubber, Hard Plastic, Softer-but-still-firm plastic, and more!

How much did these prints cost?

Total, maybe $7-8 USD.

How long did this take?

I went from drawing to having my first print in-hand in less than 3 hours. To my final print, maybe another 4 hours.

Why do you 3D print things? It would be faster to just buy them.

In some cases, sure, it might be easier to buy a toothbrush holder or coasters, or whatever you might need. But the cool part for me is being able to take an idea and transform it into a real, tangible thing – with just a little time and some fiddling on the computer. Plus, I spend a lot less money on things that are just little pieces of plastic, and can customize them or swap them out really easily whenever I want to suit my decorating desires or when they break.

Every household thing I print is one less that has to be shipped around the world in a wasteful box or cocooned in a plastic shell for safety. The plastic I print with is made from corn waste and other renewable resources. Essentially, it’s the self-sufficient, sustainable, and creative nature of this hobby that fascinates me so much.


Full disclosure: I get a small amount of commission if you buy anything through these links. It helps pay for my web hosting.

Thanks for reading! If you want to print this for yourself, here it is! If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.



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