3D Printing | Learn How to Convert a 2D Image Into 3D for Printing

So you’ve heard of this new-fangled '3D technology', it sounds, well… pretty neat, and you want to test it out for yourself. That little lightbulb went off in your head with a new business or gift idea, or just maybe it’s just personal curiosity. You’re not alone! Sounding (and looking) like something from a science-fiction movie, it piqued the interest of many. And almost as many have turned back at the starting gates, worried it would be too technical. The good news is, for basic designs, just about everyone can do it! 

This guide will walk you through, step-by-step, how to convert 2D images to 3D model software. We’ll show you how to convert your popular images files (from JPEG to PNG) - be them logos, your drawings, or whatever image you’d like - into a format ready to import and print. First, a quick recap on what 3D printing is.

What Is 3D Printing?

3D printing is a method of creating a three-dimensional object layer-by-layer using a computer-built design. It was first developed as a faster means of proto-typing, but as its technology has evolved and become more accessible, it has found popularity in a whole host of industries, from medicine, construction, and dentistry, to art and jewelry.

There are many ways to convert an image into a 3D model, ranging from a do-it-yourself approach to hiring a professional 3D artist to do it for you. For more complex projects, hiring a professional is the way to go, as the software, I will teach you about today does have its limitations (especially for beginners), but for the purposes of teaching the basics, they are more than fit-for-purpose.

Converting your 2D image into 3D for printing: Step-By-Step 


First, select your image. 

Whether it is your business logo, a drawing you have made on MS Paint, whatever. The examples I will use here will be for the two most common image files, the ones you will likely be most familiar with: JPEGs and PNGs. 



Don’t worry, I’ll go easy on the jargon here…

SVG’s are ‘Scalable Vector Graphic’ images, used to render 2D imagery, so they are readable by the software we need to turn them into 3D. 

There are several options here, but Convertio is quick, free, and easy to use. 

To make it even easier, here are the links for you to convert your choice of files!

Converting JPEG to SVG: https://convertio.co/jpeg-svg/

Converting PNG to SVG: https://convertio.co/png-svg/

Press “Convert”. After the file has been converted, download and save it onto your computer.



So now I have an image that is readable by the 2D software, the next step is to convert this into an STL file, which is the standard 3D-printable model file type. The process is again just a matter of using some web-based free-to-use software. 

I will walk you through a couple of different options here to have at your disposal. You can then use whichever best suits the requirements of your particular project, with a backup there too, in the event you have issues with the other one.

The first option entails a simple conversion to STL, then uses TinkerCAD (like a Microsoft Paint for your 3D objects - not too complicated, but surprisingly versatile and powerful).

The second is Autodesk 123D Design, which is my personal preference as it allows you to create even more complex models. However, I know it’s not for everyone, so I’ll leave that choice in your hands!

1. TinkerCAD 

So, just upload your image to https://svg2stl.com/. Select thickness of 6mm- don’t worry if you want a different one, this is just a place-holder that we can alter in the following program. Same as last time, simply press “Convert”, then download and save onto your computer.

Now, import your model into TinkerCAD. 

This is a super user-friendly application, straight away you can see why it’s such a popular choice in schools around the country. 

From here, you just tinker with the dimensions and color of your model till you are happy, export the STL from TinkerCAD to the 3D printer and prepare to be Wowed!

2. Autodesk 123D Design 

Pin on STL 3d model creating

First, you can download the Autodesk 123D Design software here: Autodesk 123D Design

(Please note, that link is for Windows, but there are options available for Safari too if you are using a Mac)

Now launch the software.

In the top left-hand corner is a drop-down menu, hover over it, then select “Import SVG > as Solid”. As if by magic, you will now have your model in front of you in glorious 3D! 

The software automatically extrudes your model to a default height, but you just use the “Press/Pull” function (found in the “Modify” section) to customize to your requirements. Again, it’s a user friendly bit of software, very much catering for the novice end of the market.

Another option is to import “as sketch”, then under “Construct”, click on “extrude”, then select the faces of your chosen image. From here, you just pull the arrow on the screen up or down to thicken up your 2D sketch. Word of warning, though- while this gives you a bit more control over the height of your model, it can be a trickier way of doing things, especially if you are not the most technically-minded.


You can also check our article on the Types of 3D Printing Explained.


Advances in technology have really brought all the possibilities of 3D printing into the household. And hopefully, this article has demystified the process of converting your 2D image to 3D model software for you!

Using these simple steps, you can take your design from your lightning bolt of inspiration to the finished product in your hand, relatively quickly, and without the need for specialist training or costly software. 

The only limits are your imagination. Only one question remains: now you know what to do, what are YOU gonna do with it?! 

For a market-leading selection of 3D printer options, all direct from the supplier, with safe checkout, fast shipping, and our expert support team at hand, check out 3djunkies.com or just drop us a line anytime at support@3djunkies.com. We’re ready when you are!