Take customization and capability to a whole new level. Deliver what your competition cannot - astounding artworks quickly and easily.
Take customization and capability to a whole new level. Deliver what your competition cannot - astounding artworks quickly and easily.

Create Relief Models For Fusion 360

Relief Maker is the ultimate tool to create manufacturable 3D reliefs from 3D models - at any angle - that can be used in Fusion 360 projects.

Video Tutorial

Create and output a PNG heightmap from Relief Maker. Here's a sample PNG heightmap to use.
Keep the PNG heightmap output size under 1000 px by 1000 px
Download this free add-in for Fusion 360
Install the add-in - learn how
Watch the video

Video Tutorial Transcription

How freaking cool is this, guys? If you want to incorporate amazing relief models into your Fusion 360 projects as a solid body that you can use as part of any other design, this is the tutorial for you. In this tutorial, we're going to learn how to generate the relief model from Relief Maker, and we're going to bring that relief into Fusion, convert it to T-Splines, and then use that to incorporate that into some other design that we have going on, so we can then mill it or 3D print it. Let's get started.

Okay, so here we are in Relief Maker. We've opened up the model that we're going to want to bring into Fusion from a relief perspective later, and we're going to kind of rotate it and position it to where it's interesting and like we want it to be. And the first thing to note is you don't want the model to be right next to the edges, and in fact, might want to make it a pretty good amount.

The reason is when we generate a relief, everything that's around it's going to be flat, and we're going to use this to our advantage later. So if you zoom the model way in, you're not going to have a lot of flat areas around it, and that's going to be a problem for this workflow. So give it some breathing room, and the next thing is to make sure that the output width and height are the absolute maximum of a thousand and a thousand.

And this is a dense mesh in terms of Fusion 360, and as a result, a thousand by a thousand is the absolute maximum, and it's going to take a lot of processing time down the road. So if you can get away with lower output widths and heights to get the results that you want, definitely do that. But we're going to go with a thousand by a thousand, and let's press Generate Relief, and we'll look at it from the side, and this is looking pretty good, but we want some of this detail to be a little bit more pronounced.

So let's change this maybe to 85% height scale. We'll regenerate it, and that's looking pretty good. So at this point, we're done in ReliefMaker, and the way that we want to get this into Fusion is going to be via a PNG file.

So let's File, Export Relief, and we're going to go to Save As Type, choose 16-bit height map, and just call this Dog. We are done inside ReliefMaker. Everything else takes place in Fusion 360, so let's jump there now.

All right, so here we are in Fusion 360, and we're ready to import that PNG that we made. Let's go to the Utilities tab, and this import workflow makes use of an add-on. You'll go to Scripts and Add-ons, Add-ins, and the download installation instructions for Image to Surface will be on this page or in the description of the video.

In any case, if you're going to use this workflow often, click Run at Startup so you don't have to do this over and over, and then click Run. We already have it running, so we're just going to leave it alone, and once that's done, go to Add-ins and then click Show Image to Surface. At this point, we're ready to import that PNG relief that we made from ReliefMaker, so we'll click Choose File.

We'll navigate to the Relief Output folder, and then we'll choose the image that we made, and we see that it comes in. So the first thing that you probably want to do is figure out how tall you want this to be, and changing that value, you can see kind of a preview. We're going to want this to be 35 millimeters tall.

The next thing that we want to do is kind of look at the pixels to skip and the stepover values. If we just temporarily increase the stepover, you can kind of see the mesh density that we're going to get as a result of this based on the pixels to skip, and so changing the pixels to skip effectively ignores some of the data in the image that we're using. You don't want to have a 1,000 by 1,000 image with zero pixels to skip.

You can kind of just intuitively sense this insane mesh density that we're going to get, and this is going to make processing later extraordinarily time-consuming. So either use a smaller input image or make sure that you skip enough pixels to where the mesh density is not totally out of control. In our case, maybe we'll choose three as the pixels to skip, and then once we've chosen the pixels to skip, which effectively controls the mesh density, we want to figure out how big this thing should be.

So you'll notice over here we have our dimensions. This is the output size that we're going to get in millimeters, and as I change stepover, the output size decreases. So one thing to be aware of is that you may be tempted to believe that the dimensions are from the left side of what you can see to the right side, but keep in mind this image is a square, and there's space around it that we're not really seeing represented on this image.

So the actual model is going to be less than this because that square distance is still there. In any case, we're going to choose about 500 millimeters. That's fine.

With three pixels to skip, seems to provide a pretty good mesh density without going over the top. And at that point, let's click Generate Surface. And pretty quickly, our surface was generated.

The first thing we want to do is zoom in and just make sure that the results that we're getting are going to be suitable for the quality based on the manufacturing process that we're using. So for a CNC process, this is probably pretty good. For a really, really high resolution 3D printer, maybe you need to decrease the pixels to skip value.

But we're going to go with this because this looks pretty good for our purposes. And so the first thing that we want to do is kind of orient this in a more meaningful way. Let's say we're going to put this on a CNC machine.

Well, we're going to be machining it from the top. And so we probably want to rotate this so that it's facing upwards. And for the workflow that we're going to use, and yours might be a little different, we're going to put this just above the ground plane.

And we'll see why in a second. And then as the last step, maybe let's center it. And we'll press OK.

So now we have the mesh imported. We verified that its quality is good enough for the way that we're going to machine it. Otherwise, we might use a higher pixel density.

And now we want to be able to do something with this thing. And the way that we're going to do something with it is by converting it to T-splines. So we're going to right click because we don't see the form menu up here.

Right click on the top node. And we're going to do not capture design history. Click Continue.

And this is enabling the form object up here. So click that. And we're going to left click our mesh to select it.

Utilities, Convert. And then click Quad Mesh to T-splines. Now, this is a process that can take a long time.

If you're doing a 1,000 by 1,000 pixel image, the absolute maximum, and you have a skip pixels value of one, so you're getting the full density, this step may very well take 45 minutes. So you want to use realistic values. In our case, it probably won't take super long because we have a skip value of three.

And so we're processing a much smaller image. So just be aware, this step is the one that can take forever depending on how extreme of a resolution you're using. In any case, press OK and grab a cup of coffee.

All right. So this processing step, you can see it's now completed. Probably took us two or three minutes.

If you use a reasonable sized image or step over, it's not too bad. And we can see the quality is just outstanding. This is going to turn into something phenomenal.

So another question is, what do we do with this thing? Well, there's probably lots of different ways you can use T-splines. But the approach that we're going to take is perhaps the simplest. And we're going to use it as the basis to trim a solid body.

And so we've entered Sketch Mode on that plane below. And we're going to create just a circle in our case. But you may be making a pendant or any number of different things.

And we're going to sketch something. And we're going to extrude it past the top so that the entire relief is fully enclosed. And we're going to press OK.

And at this point, we are very close to the magic happening. We're going to go to Split Body. The body we're going to split is this cylinder, whatever you've made.

The splitting tool is going to be the T-spline. And now we're going to press OK. And just like that, we are ready to rumble.

Let's go over to our bodies. We can see we have an additional body because it cut that one in half. So let's get rid of the top.

And let's get rid of the T-spline. And this is the beautiful result. Look how good that looks.

This is now a solid body. And so you can keep adding more solids to it. If you were making a pendant, you might make a necklace ring here to hold it.

You can put text on it if we wanted to fill it this edge. We could easily do that, maybe 30 or 20. All right.

So you can treat this just like any other solid body. It's ready for machining, for the design work, incorporation into the workflows that you might have. And it's really that easy.

The longest part of this whole process is just waiting for the T-splines to generate. But otherwise, super simple, amazing results. Your work's going to be astonishing.

This workflow just lets you incorporate such artistry and interesting designs into your otherwise perhaps prismatic fusion models to take your designs up to the next level. Hope you enjoyed this tutorial. And hope you enjoy ReliefMaker.