Selfie Styklet Part 1

Hey there!  I’m Eric, co-founder of Styklet and what follows is part 1 of my first post to the Fashion Volcano blog that Alex, my counterpart here at Styklet, and I have created to let you know what we’re into!  I’ll detail how I went about creating a 3D printed “selfie” sticker, using Photoshop, Illustrator and Rhino 6.  Why selfie stickers, you ask?: well, we wanted to represent ourselves on the “about page” of our website,, and we could think of no better way to portray ourselves than as a 3D printed sticker.  I won’t bore you with nitpicking details, just the overall process- if you have specific questions, you can reach out to me in the comments.

To begin with, I took a picture on my computer, which I’m the first to admit is not a very good picture, but I just wanted to get started, so I ran with it.  When I do this next time, I’ll definitely take a better picture to begin with, however, with being isolated during this COVID-19 pandemic, I don’t have anyone to take a proper photo of me, so alas, this is the photo, and yes, I’m in my pajamas.


I took the photo into Photoshop and cut myself out of the background so that I could focus on the face.  Since I knew I would be making a 3D model, I didn’t particularly worry about getting too granular with detail, and kept the cut around the hair pretty rough.

My first experiment was to try out a web applet to convert a simple photo of a person into a 3D image.  The app was part of some work by researchers at the University of Nottingham.  You just upload a picture of yourself to it, with or without a background, and it creates a 3D version of your face, which you can then download as an OBJ file.  The website is here: and you can learn more about their fascinating work.

I uploaded my cropped image to their website, and in return got the following mesh of my face, which I opened up in Rhino.

I realized that this file wouldn’t really work out too well for me.  At styklet, we focus on monochrome 3D prints, and the geometry detail without color doesn’t really read too well, as you can see below.

I decided that, rather than try to create an organic model of myself in relief akin to how a relief portrait of a president on a coin might be, I would attempt a stylized version.  For one, I thought it would be easier to model, and secondly I had a straightforward idea of how to create it.

To begin with, I took my photo into Illustrator and ran the Cutout effect from the Effect gallery:

This separates the image out into various colors, and you can control the simplicity of the edges and the edge fidelity.

With the cutout, I then ran Image Trace with the “High Fidelity Photo” option.  This splits the image out into its component paths, each with their own fill for color.  When you run the Image Trace function and click expand, it separates all the paths out so you have a cutout version of yourself.  I’ve shown here a side by side of the tracing result with the same result, but in black and white so you can see the paths:

I cleaned up the paths a little bit, deleting some, joining some with others, all in order to simplify the outlines a little bit, and make sure I had closed paths at the end of it.  Having closed paths is important, because my approach would be to take these paths into Rhino, extrude them to different elevations, and in this way create a stylized portrait.  In order to extrude the paths as solids, which makes it easier to do Boolean operations within Rhino, the paths need to be closed.

I decided every color level would be a different elevation of the face, and then used each path to extrude a solid.  My result looked like this:



Well, I’ll tell you, I was somewhat horrified with my result.  Overall, the paths were too complex, and details on the face didn’t read very well.  I suspected this would be the case looking at the paths before making this, but holy smokes, this is ugly!

So, I took my photo back into illustrator, I ran the Simplify Path command to clean up the paths and make them a bit simpler to see the result.  I don’t have a photo to show you of that operation, but it didn’t result in an overall better set of paths, so I decided to start from the top.  I reopened my original photo cutout, and using the pen tool, I traced out a sketch of my face, making closed paths around salient features of my face that I would extrude.  



I then took these paths into Rhino and extruded them into different solids at different elevations to produce my portrait:

I wasn’t super thrilled with the result, but it was already better than before.   I figured it would be worth a shot to print this model out and see how it turns out.

Alex fired up the 3D printer and printed out a first trial:

For some reason, at that scale, one of my nostrils went missing…  Bye bye nostril!  (the sticker was printed to be 35 mm tall and 19 mm wide).

We decided to scale it up about 23% to 43mm x 22 mm, and this was the result.

I must say that I’m not pleased with the result at this point.  Seeing it printed, however, does give me quite a bit of information on what I’ll need to change for the next version.  I’ll update you on that part 2 of this post.  If you want to be notified when that drops, feel free to subscribe (Subscribe to this blog's RSS feed using
Until then, thanks for reading, and feel free to ask any questions in the comments.  Cheers!!

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