AI generated cnc height map patterns

I thought I would make a thread focused on AI generated height maps for cnc or 3d prints that I share. I am still learning and refining my workflow so these are not perfect but should be usable.

I am currently using a 4 step process.

  1. Generate the AI image
  2. Generate AI height map from image
  3. Create geometry from height map and refine and clean the model
  4. Manually create another height map from the geometry to maximize height of pattern (I use a logarithmic function to focus on near geometry detail and reduce distant geometry detail)

First height map.


Having fiddled with getting depth maps using AI, your steps 1 & 2 make sense. However, I don’t understand your steps 3 & 4. Could you explain them?


The height map generated by the AI will more than likely not be perfect or have the depth proportions that are desired.

In step 3 I bring the height map into a 3d modeling program (Blender3d) and 3d model/digitally sculpt the areas that I want changed. That could mean raising and lowering different areas of the model. I can also refine/add/delete areas for either more or less detail.

Many times I get a resulting 3d model with exaggerated proportions that is unusable for a straight STL port.

So step 4.

I make another height map using a logarithmic function to compress the model information so far depth information is reduced and and near depth information is kept.

Very simple node function to accomplish this. You do have to play with the numbers and every model will be different.

I then take the height map straight into my cnc or bring it back into Blender3d to create real geometry and export as STL.


Here is an example of the difference.

Both models have the same dimensions of 2" x 2" x .25".

The one on the left is straight AI height map. Completely usable with a little smoothing in your cnc software.

The one on the right was further refined with height changes and digital sculpting. I did remove the background with a 2d graphics program to start.


AI is helping but your talent with tools is still necessary to get usable results. That’s not surprising; AI is evolving. The panacea would be an app using an OpenAI API where uploaded images produce downloadable (and usable) 3D files. We’ll get there I expect.

Thank you.

Your efforts to explain are much appreciated. :pray:t2:

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Also, if possible use 16 bit or higher image format or lossless format. Really makes a huge difference in image noise.

Next height map pattern.

For your D&D nerd’s (I used to be one) special decorative corner post ornamentation.


For your scary carving. AI generated.


These are quite cool Oscar. Cool experimentations.

Thanks. I am coming to realize I really suck at making good AI prompts. Another skill I need to improve.

What would you like to see as an AI generated cnc height map pattern?

Oscar, how about a full on facial profile of el Día de Muertos or el Día de los Muertos fiesta skull?

That is a super cool idea. I am in the middle of rendering some animations so will try it this evening and see how they come out. :metal:

I found this more challenging than I thought it would be. I spent about 15 minutes trying to clean up the model but it probably needs at least another hour and my drawing pad to control brush strength.

This is what I came up with.

And if anyone wants to play with their AI height map generator, this is the image I used.


Just another example of changing an AI generated cnc pattern and modifying it to make it more your own.

Image on left AI generated height map, image on right is me playing with the base mesh.

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Great work!
I owned two English bulldogs in the past. It’s funny how reality on the left is not how everyone thinks of them. Your wonderful depiction on the right is how everyone pictures them.

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Thank you. This AI stuff is a lot of fun but it really does need its own skill set to be good at it.