zSurf4  is a utility that allows you to import a bitmap and export a surface.

You can find a copy at http://mwt.net/~sjedging/ZSURF4.zip

There is spotty info out there about this program, but its rather nice if you can figure out how to use it.  The best tutorial I found is unfortunately not in English, however google translate helps with that.

The tutorial will give you a working knowledge Zsurf, at least enough to get started.  I would like to add a method to start with a photograph of an object like a gear and end in a 3D surface.  Note that the original is a pretty poor quality black and white image.

Zsurf likes very high contrast images.  The image below if processed as is produces a very rough, jagged surface, raising all the dark spots and lowering all the white.

Here is the starting image, its a clock escapement wheel, its a jpeg image, of an actual photograph of a real escapement wheel.

Here are the conversion steps to get it ready for zSurf

  • First save the image to the computer and open with the Gimp an open source image editor.
  • Next use the magic wand to select by color, click on the white space that surrounds the image
  • Now invert the selection so that you now have the object selected, no matter the color
  • Then use cntrl plus magic wand to select everything you don’t want
  • Next use the bucket fill to make the selection black, there is a button for this
  • Now invert the selection and bucket fill the background white
  • The last step is to go through with the eraser and touch it up
  • You now should have a high contrast image to use with zSurf

  • Save the file and open with paint, save it as a 24 bit bitmap, it should have the bmp extension.
  • Open this with zSurf and process
  • It will produce an IGES surface for you
  • Now open up this surface with your favorite 3d editor, I used Rhino

You now have a nice surface you can use for whatever you like.  I have been digitally appliquéing these surfaces to other drawings and using them as surface decoration.  It works a treat.  Let me know how you get on with it.


Leave a Reply