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Pro/Engineer   November 2005   Tip-of-the-Month

Geometry from Images

Creating a "Look" or an "Idea" is much easier in a graphics package, so ideas often start that way.  For the CAD guys, it's not uncommon to see the eyes roll when the art department comes and says "This is the way it should look."  Since the artistic nature of a product is important to consumers, the little extra is worth doing.

Figure 1.  Appearance Placement
Actually, making 3D geometry from images is not so difficult.

For this tip, we will use a simple example of 2D going to 3D text like that of a Logo, but this technique is easily extrapolated to creating full products by using the process shown in our August 2001 Pro/E Tip-of-the-Month.

Once you have the image, the first step is to bring it into Pro/E.  This is critical in terms of size and placement, so use an image editor to size the image appropriately.  You may have to do some iteration to get things to match correct, but the essence is to place the image on a Pro/E surface as a decal then size it to be correct inside Pro/E.

TIP:  Use the largest image practical (large image, with lots of pixels).  The better the resolution of the image, the easier it will be to match geometry.

Basically, an image is placed in Pro/E using  View > Model Setup > Color and Appearance... > Add a color, then go to the Detail tab > Decal > Map > Choose the image, then OK.  When you assign the new color to a surface previously created, Pro/E brings up the Appearance Placement controls (shown in Figure 1) so you can move or size the image to the geometry.

TIP:  The turn wheels are nice for generic fit, but type in values for a more exact fit.

(If you have not done this before, see Pro/E Help on adding an image as a decal.  There are limitations with files, etc..)

TIP:  If the size of the solid surface is made the same as the image, it helps with placement.  For example, if the image is 1200 x 1000 pixels, the placement surface should be the same 1.2:1 ratio.

Figure 2.  Sketch over an image.
Once the image is placed, simply build geometry using the image as a visual reference similar to the techniques shown in our August 2001 Pro/E Tip-of-the-Month.  An example of a sketch over text is shown in Figure 2.  Note the effect of image resolution.  Note also that the sketched entities are only "eyeballed" into place.

TIP:  For more complex geometry, sketched splines are a good tool for matching geometry.

TIP:  Keep sketches simple.  It is a good idea to make the geometry using several features that are simple rather than to make it with one that is really complex.

TIP:  Assign the part a transparent color so you can see through the part to create the features.  Figure 3 shows the transparency.  It also shows the model rotated slightly to see the completed features.

This is an easy way to take image data and create solid geometry -- though in reality, this tip really does not address all the steps.  See Pro/E Help for more information on each step.  Also, I have found several issues with the functionality.  Some of the key ones are listed below.

Figure 3.  Completed Geometry

Till next month ...  Enjoy!

ISSUE:  I do not know why, but sometimes Pro/E does not save the decal image in the file.  It is aggravating to have to place the image each time you start Pro/E.  Sometime is does it, sometimes not.  I have found that on the SUN (Solaris), it keeps it, but on the PC it does not.  Go figure.

ISSUE:  Make sure the size of the image is correct before creating too much geometry.  It is a huge pain to go back later to resize things.

ISSUE:  Pro/E does not have a good way of placing an image to assure there is not distortion.  Make the surface for placement the exact same ratio (height to width) of the image prior to placement.  This will assist in getting the image in without distortion.

ISSUE:  I have had mixed luck with placing an image on Surface Geometry as compared to Solid Geometry.  Sometimes Pro/E will flip the image on a surface or it won't place the decal, just the base color.  Sometimes if you create a surface, make it a Thin Protrusion from the surface, then place the image on the solid geometry then suppress the protrusion, the image is still there on the original surface.  I do not have a solution for this except to say try it and see what works.  It almost always works on solid geometry.


Make it a Great Month !!
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