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PhotoVCarve is an excellent CNC software program for both 2D and 3D cutting. It creates lines of grooves that vary in width and depth to represent the detail in a photograph or image. The quality of the finished result is very dependent upon a high level of contrast between the material surface and the machined grooves. This information is very important to remember when cutting designs using the PhotoVCarve software.
PhotoVCarve machines dark areas in a photograph with wide groove and the lighter areas to have narrower ones. The software automatically calculates the toolpaths based on the cutter selected and maximum depth of groove required.
This diagram shows how the machined grooves get wider over the dark areas of the eye.
Lithophanes are 3D photographs that when viewed in normal lighting look a little dull and lifeless. But when back lit transform into stunning 3D pictures with depth and detail that cannot be seen in a flat 2D photograph.
Lithophanes originate from a process developed back in the mid 1800's for mass producing 3D pictures in porcelain. A 3D design was hand engraved into a thin sheet of beeswax that was placed over a lighted candle to show the effect of light passing through the wax. This master design was then used to make a mold for casting designs in porcelain - varying levels of light to pass through the porcelain depending upon the thickness.
PhotoVCarve automatically converts a grayscale image into a 3D height map that can then be carved.
The example below shows how the grayscale image for a 3D model can be converted to a 3D height map and machined using a Ball nose cutter.