How can I convert a png to a 3D shape in Sketchup?
So I have a png file which contains an outline of a complex shape which I want to cut into a 3D object in SketchUp. Is there a way to do this without freehand tracing the outline?
It's a bit long-winded, but you can do it like this:
1. Open .png in photoshop
2. Load selection from transparency
3. Create work path from selection
4. Save path by renaming it
5. Export paths to illustrator
6. Save illustrator file as dwg
7. Import into sketchup
8. align texture with geometry.
9. et voila.
I think that without some way of batching/automating this process (and depending on the complexity of the image e.g. is it a ball or a tree with a thousand branches) it is potentially more trouble than it's worth. But nice to know it can be done!
It's worth mentioning that sketchup recognises transparency in pngs, but not for casting shadow. So if you have e.g. a face-me tree or person, and you want something resembling a realistic shadow from it, then you'll need to trace at least a crude outline. Otherwise you can just use the png as-is and it will be transparent.
As far as I know, there's no way to convert a png to geometry in sketchup without tracing it at some point. Tracing in sketchup itself is a big pain, so I understand what you're looking for. One thing you can do is trace the shapes you need in an outside vector editor, like illustrator or inkscape, and export that vector file as a .dxf (I know for sure inkscape does this, I think illustrator does too.) Then import the dxf to sketchup. Sometimes it works perfectly, and all the vector lines import nicely. Other times the vector lines are ok, but they're scattered seemingly at random. I haven't figured out why. So it's not perfect, but it's better than tracing in sketchup itself anyway. Good luck.