I am missing something basic about surfaces I think (heightmaps?)

I am pretty new to Rhino and coming from Fusion 360, where I mostly used the solid tools. Currently using Rhino 8 for Windows.

I am attempting to make more detailed fishing lures (adding scales/patterns). I have gone down the path of heightmaps (both in Rhino and in Grasshopper) and get stuck once I have a mesh getting it to connect back to my original surface. Let me walk through my process.

  1. Draw a closed curve that is the side view of the lure.
  2. Make a planer surface
  3. ISO trim that surface because I don’t want the pattern over the entire area. (see attached pic for a better explanation)
  4. Apply heightmap to the trimmed surface
  5. get it looking like I want
  6. export render mesh
  7. ??? at this point I have a mesh with jagged edges and a nurbs surface. I think I would like to connect them back together, then I mirror, draw a curve connecting them and Sweep2 to connect the sides back together. This is how I made the lure pictured, minus the heightmap of course. What is the correct/better workflow to achieve what I am trying to do?

I have also tried to use flow along surface but then I end up in a hell of 100s of objects trying to union together.

I would prefer my output to be a nurbs body (output to STEP for manufacturing) but would work with a mesh output for 3D printing.

Any pointers greatly appreciated!

I don’t see the ‘attached pic’?
Do you have a file you could attach?

Opps sorry added now! The red outlined area represents the area I want to constrain the patterns/scales inside of.

For that sort of ‘extremely organic’ stuff I would probably look at displacement mapping instead of heightfields, which will require a bunch of fine work to handle the edges nicely and will leave you with a mesh as output, or subdivision surface modeling, which was literally developed as an alternative to NURBS for extremely organic shapes. I mean I have done brute-force NURBS modeling of such detail, but I’ve been doing this an extremely long time and even then I doubt it would be economical for this application.

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