How To Ideas

I’ve been asked to do something new to me now I’m kind of wonder what would be the work flow that would let me accomplish it, assuming is even doable…

So I have this 3D scale model of a cruise ship and now my task is to take the hull artwork from photos like on attached sample and transfer it onto scale model in order to create color decals that later would be printed out and eventually applied to scale replica.

My rough idea is first to unroll hull sides into flat pattern, than take available photos to Corel photo-paint and straighten them out there, next overlay this photo over 2D hull outline and from then on try and isolate hull artwork proper from the rest of the ship…

This might work but I’m wondering whether something more efficient has been already tried and tested… ? Any suggestions most appreciated.


Hi Darius,

I’m just going to blurt out my first thought as I’m in a hurry but want to give you pointers based on my experience with this:

Most likely not all the hull shapes can be unrolled, you will need to use squish to flatten them.
But generally it’s wise to first have a setup for the final decals bith in 3D and 2D. These can always be tweaked, but al least you know what is possible.

Maybe you better approach this from 3D to 2D .
Is the artwork graphical/vector based: Than you can draw,project,pull lines onto the hull to create the artwork lines in 3D.
The next step then would be to unroll/squish the hull as parts with the curves. I’d suggest to split the parts to flatten at areas with the least ‘going on’ graphics wise so when applying the decal the alignment is easier.

When you need a bitmap as decal:
My approach would be to create one single mesh for the hull first create a single mesh for the complete hull and already think of where this mesh is going to be divide into separate decal-parts.

If your hardware and software allow you can create a single image for the complete hull. But maybe you have to split your bitmaps into smaller parts because of memory limitations.(or work with low-res placeholder images)

Flattening the meshes could work with squish or scripted to align with an unroll but I’ve never done that actually, but I think it perfectly possible.

Do make sure to first test your complete workflow at the full scale and complexity of the decals, if you start an approach and you end up hitting a wall near the end you lose a lot of time and effort.

You can also use a hybrid bitmap/vector workflow, where you create 3D lines as reference and fill in the bitmaps on the flattened result.

Consult those producing and applying the decals they’ll have specific needs you need to be aware of while you create the decals. It can be as simple as shifting stuff a few meters to have seams free of artwork.

Anyway goodluck and keep us posted on the progress, always interesting to see this type of projhects develeop.

Maybe @hannesgrebin or @Steve_Howden can give you some general guidance as they have dealt with this type of stuff as well.


Hi Darius (and Hi Willem),

Willems overview covers most of the myriad ways of dealing with this. As you can see there are a lot of options and going into all of them in detail would take too much space.
So I’ll go back my trusty old rule for dealing with graphic arts issues:
“Know what your output will be BEFORE creating the input”

For example if it’s going to be sign vinyl cut on a sign cutter you will need vector art in closed loops.
If they have continuous tone art that needs to be printed you’ll need to flatten out the art.
Happy to help if you can let us know what the final output needs to be first.

Cheers, Steve

Thank you guys. Comments and suggestions most appreciated.

Before my client went on vacations he mentioned he needs decals so I naturally assumed he meant water transfers. Now I’m not too certain any more… But whatever is going to be I doubt I’ll be able to use original photo images and instead will probably have to trace all those squiggly lines and create color separations of my own. It sound like a lot more work. Unless there is some automated way in the graphics software ( Corel Draw or PSP in my case ) that can be adopted for this purpose. Another idea would be to try and contact Peter Max who created the original art work…!

When comes to unrolling, I did on several occasions but never meshes, always using surfaces. Is there any advantage to unrolling meshes instead…? In this case I already tried simplifying original hull shape by dividing it into developable panels like on the image below and than unroll one by one into 2d geometry. I’m not entirely sure but I’m hoping this might work. Now I’m considering adding some anchor points to my simplified 3D hull that would let me align color artwork and than unroll those panels again.

This is as far as my planning goes for now…:slight_smile:



For something like this I like to use adobe illustrators trace tool, which gets me vectors I can use in Rhino.

You would need good photos of the original artwork though…

Also it’s never 100 percent so you will have some fixing to do.


@AdamBBLee if this still is of your interest PM me


sorry im too busy but it’s really easy to use, if you have trouble with it post your problem here and I will try to help you.

Vladimir, appreciate sentiment but I kind of need to get through this on my own. You know, learning how to feed myself… and such. Haven’t started on it yet busy with other things but if I run into any serious issues I’ll come back for more pointers. I don’t own Adobe licenses but would expect that something similar can be found in Corel Draw, Photo Paint or PSP. Many thanks.


Hi Adam,

Corel Draw has a very good bitmap trace function and the Help files are nice and clear.
The usual caveats regarding GIGO apply of course :wink:

Sing out if you need any help.