3D Terrain Relief

I have a friend who invited us for the weekend to his lake house on Smith Mountain Lake, Va. While there, we went to a local boutique and they were selling a balsa wood 2.5D cutout of the lake for over $1000.00. While it was nice, I thought I could do better (opinion of course). So I went onto the EROS website at USGS where they host very nice topographic relief imagery of each state - and grabbed the Smith Mountain Lake area:

I then converted the image to grayscale in photoshop, and made sure to truly blacken the actual lake:

Then into Vcarve pro, and it is fairly easy to make a 3d model from a grayscale image. Played with it until I got it like I liked it. Here are a couple of pics of the final product:

All in all - a fairly reasonable process. It is quite a workout on your carve tho - with over 14 hours of carving or so - a lot of which was very active Z positioning. So make sure you are dialed in before you give something like this a shot.





That’s awesome! Thanks for sharing the process. Carving 2.5D nautical charts was one of the biggest excuses I used to rationalize the purchase. The ones at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival of San Juan Islands are about 1/3 the price of the XC1000.


Wait… what?

I missed that V-Carve Pro tutorial. How did you make a 3D model from a grey scale image? That is exciting!


In carve pro, under the models tab, there are two icons… One to trace a bitmap, and one to create a model from a bitmap. Create the model, then choose the wrench to edit the settings…

Wow. Thank you! This will be fun to play with.

Apparently, I don’t have that option. I am on 8.012. I see the trace bitmap under drawing tools. I do not have any bitmap options under the model tab. What version are you on?

Sounds like aspire to me…

You are correct, it is aspire. Sorry about that!

Can you provide a link to the map website please?


I think I had to join to download large images (free)

How do I grey scale the image that I chose from the website?