Day 0039 – Reflection
October 9, 2010, 3:32 am
Filed under: MFA

Program is going full steam ahead.  I wanted to give a little update on progress of a cool project I am working on for the Vermont 3.0.


We were tasked to complete three different self portraits in three different mediums.  The final portrait  I created in Google’s free 3D program SketchUp.  I started to play around with the program a couple of month’s ago but had only attempted to create architectural based drawings.  I wanted to find a creative way to use the program that went beyond my comfort level.

I was helping a fellow graduate student Shaina with a technique in Photoshop to create a low res pixelated version of her face to help her visualize one of her portrait concepts.  The process involves resampling the photo to a very low number of dpi.  I started to imagine the pixels on a 3D grid.  What if you could extrude the pixels to represent the tone (greyscale value)?

I started with a photo from one of my very first ‘photo collages’.  Silly picture, but more expressive than a boring straight on photo and, I love Mac and Cheese.  I then converted picture to a greyscale image and used guides to help focus on the pixels that I had to transpose to the 3D grid.

This was a very long process, but I chose it because I am hoping by the end of this program, I will be able to automate this process using scripting and code.

I imagine…

Scan a picture, program converts to greyscale, resamples to established grid parameters, assigns a depth value to each pixel and it extrudes grid coordinates to assign values.  I am hopeful.

Here are the source photo, pixel grid and top view (Orthographic projection) of the final SketchUp model.


The next stage was to extrude the grid based on the value of the pixel. Example: The grid dimensions where based off each division equals 1ʼ X 1ʼ, so if it was a 10% grey itwould be extrude 1ʼ. If the value was 50%, the height of the structure would be 5ʼ and ifthe value was 100% black, it would be 10ʼ tall.

When you change your viewing anglefrom the top view to the side the portrait morphs into an elaborate cityscape.

Here is a sequence view to show the final transformation and a stylized version of the result.

Link to small Video on Youtube.



1 Comment so far
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This is incredibly cool. You are so clever.

wl pa

Comment by Peter Brownell

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