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Converting 2D Diagram to 3D Model

paul_wade983paul_wade983 Member Posts: 6

I'm working on a project to convert several 2D diagrams to 3D representations.  I'm totally new to this so my questions might seem a bit naive.  Hope not.  I've researched a bunch of programs from Blender to Photoshop, SketchUp, and now Onshape.  Here is an example of the drawings I'm trying to convert:

The blue shaded area is a cylindrical lens.  I would like to be able to show the axis lines and distance markers in 3D rather than having to use several different cross-section images.  The problem I'm having, with all the software I've checked into, is that I have no idea where to start recreating this so I can't figure out if the software I'm testing is going to work.  All the tutorials and examples I look at seem to be far more complex and none are just "how to create a transparent convex-concave lens" (too easy, right?) or "how to create a 3D Cartesian axis representation".  I'm not even sure of the terminology necessary to do the proper searches to see if I can find tutorials that are on target.  I'm confident that I can do this if I can just sort out the steps involved and get the nomenclature right.  This seems like it should be pretty simple compared to some of the drawings I've seen in the tutorials.  I even thought I could use a technique I saw to convert 2D schematics to 3D but it requires .dwg files.  I didn't create this image originally so I only have a .png file in a word document.

Any advice to get me pointed in the right direction would be most appreciated.



  • bruce_williamsbruce_williams Member, Developers Posts: 377 PRO

    you should be able to get a good 3D model.  It is hard to tell what the image you have is defining.  Can you share more views or a website with similar images?  You will get a lot of help on this forum.
  • paul_wade983paul_wade983 Member Posts: 6
    Miracle of miracles, I've been able to create a lens!  I hope this link works:


    However, it is not correct.  I need the surfaces tilted with respect to one another so that the lens is thinner on one side than the other along the x-axis.  

    1.  Is there a way to tilt the surfaces of the object now that it's a solid?
    2.  How can I make the Cartesian coordinate lines in the drawing objects that can be labeled and colored?  
    3.  Is there a way to draw a line tangent to the surface without it being in the center like I have it?  I need to have the coordinate layout decentered with the z-axis tangent to the front surface.  Once I've got that then I need to draw the x and y axis lines accordingly but I'm not sure how to do the z-axis.

    Thanks again for any advice or tips.

  • paul_wade983paul_wade983 Member Posts: 6
    edited November 6
    Alright, more progress:


    I've made my asymmetrical lens.  I used revolve : remove to carve out the back.  Any ideas on the best way to create the referential lines from my 2D drawing now?

    Edit: Removed question about creating elliptical lens, I figured it out (transform).  I am finding some of the controls very confusing.  Transform being one of those.  I keep expecting to see controls on the object to manipulate it but I guess you have to type in the transform values manually?
  • tim_hess427tim_hess427 Member Posts: 198 PRO
    @paul_wade983 - You're right about the controls. Onshape is a parametric modeler, meaning the primary mode of operation is to build a model based on defined parameters. Some other CAD packages focus a lot more on direct editing, which is what I think you were expecting - allowing you to see controls eand directly manipulate objects. Both methods have pros and cons. A benefit on Onshape's method is that you have a persistent feature tree that allows you to go back and edit any parameter and the model regenerates automatically. 

    Unfortunately, Onshape does not really have any 3D annotation tools that would allow you to create your axes and labels. However, if you're just trying to get an image, you could maybe model some arrows like you would any other 3D part (sketch-revolve to make arrows). Then, you can change the color of the objects by right-clicking them in the parts list and changing their appearance. For labels, you could create Text within a sketch and then extrude the text to create the 3D letters.

    While Onshape doesn't have exact tools for this sort of thing, I think if you're creative you could "fake-it" pretty well. Hope this helps!
  • NeilCookeNeilCooke Moderator, Onshape Employees Posts: 2,561
    You can create 3D arrows using the "Arrows" custom feature (click the add custom feature button, top right, then go to FeatureScript Samples).
  • bruce_williamsbruce_williams Member, Developers Posts: 377 PRO

    I started a document that may give you ideas of how to go at it.  If you keep a sketch visible it can show the construction lines.  Then using text tool and arrow as @NeilCooke shared, you can get the graphics.  It is not a trivial exercise and there are various ways to go at it.  Hope this helps you decide!

    Here is a link to the document.

  • paul_wade983paul_wade983 Member Posts: 6
    Wow, thanks for the great replies!  I'll look at some of the examples.  It seems though that Onshape might not be the most optimal tool for this sort of project.  Is there any other software you guys know about that might be better suited?  In the meantime I'll keep playing as this is the furthest I've gotten so far.  Thanks again everyone.
  • tim_hess427tim_hess427 Member Posts: 198 PRO
    Have you looked at Sketchup? They also have a free version. I think it may have different visualization options not available in a mechanical design focused tool like Onshape. 
  • steve_shubinsteve_shubin Member Posts: 109 ✭✭✭
    edited November 6
  • paul_wade983paul_wade983 Member Posts: 6
    edited November 6
    I have been trying Sketchup but I'm finding it much more difficult to decipher the user interface and methodology than Onshape, probably due to not finding tutorials that are on point.  I'm not bound to a free program as I'm willing to pay for software that I can work with.  I was also looking at TurboCAD and one other that I can't recall which specifically mention 3D annotations (thank you for giving me the right term!) and TurboCAD has a 15-day free trial.  I'm sure I can get approval for up to $1000 if I find software that does the whole job and which produces good results.

    I also tried creating the lens object in Onshape and then exporting it to Photoshop, thinking the annotations might be easier there but the resulting object in Photoshop was of very poor quality with concentric ridges everywhere (I used .dae format and .stl and both were the same result):

  • steve_shubinsteve_shubin Member Posts: 109 ✭✭✭
    edited November 7
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