3D to SVG

I’d been looking into SVGs while Graeme was doing some 3D work so a mash up was inevitable. We figured it was polygons to polygons so it stood a good chance of working. It didn’t hurt that Graeme had a few of his 3D engines lying around. Our experiments resulted in a tool for converting 3D models or scenes into SVGs. Here’s a few demos and a how to video.


Click to view SVG

You can convert individual models or whole 3D scenes, view SVG


Wireframe view

There’s ten different rendering modes, one of my favorite exposes the underlining mesh.

Click to view SVG

One of my favorite of the ten rendering modes shows the 3D mesh, view SVG


The tool renders out polygons in order, starting at the back of the scene. This made it easy to add effects in post like blur and transparency e.g. I just want the back of the SVG blurred.

Click to view SVG

You can play with the transparency or add depth-of-field effects, view SVG



You can set the viewport size, this will also be your SVG viewport. It also crops to the viewport. It’s 3D scene so you can position the camera, snapping SVGs from various angles.

Click to view SVG

We ended up putting this one in an email as its tall format scaled down well on mobile, view SVG



It pulls color values from the texture map and applies it to each polygon. You can load the SVG into Illustrator if you want to tweak it though it trashes the cleanly ordered code.

Click to view SVG

Pulls colors from the 3D texture map and applies them to the SVG, view SVG


Polygon count

Many of these SVGs are around 1,000-1,500 polygons and 35-60K. You can output triangles or quads, some models saved ~25% switching to quads.

Click to view SVG

To keep the SVG file size down work with low-poly models, view SVG




We created the animations below by loading each keyframe in as a separate model file. So we had one scene with fourteen 3D models, we then positioned the group using the ‘f’ key, and then exported all fourteen frames simultaneously by hitting the ‘v’ key. This creates one SVG file with all the keyframes as unique groups.

Click to view SVG animation

Can export an animated sequence, view animated SVG (Chrome/FF)


Alternatively you can import Milkshape 3D animated files. To capture Milkshape animation slow down the motion via the ‘[’ key, and press ‘v’ and each frame is saved as an SVG.

Click to view SVG animation

Can export an animated sequence from Milkshape 3D animated files, view animated SVG


We turned the SVGs on and off in the HTML, setting the timing for each keyframe (no IE support). Though enormous fun, file size makes this impractical for email. Web devs can use more efficient techniques to stitch the SVGs together.

Click to view SVG animation

Hard to do these types of animations efficiently in email, web devs have more options, view SVG



How to use the 3D to SVG tool (scVector)

You can download the tool here (zip) — keep in mind its Windows only — here’s some detailed instructions. Check out the 5min video below for a quick run through.



Here’s part one of this SVG series Basics of SVG in Email, and part two SVG animation.


2 Responses to “3D to SVG”

  • Eric Mikkelsen
    February 1st, 2015 20:02

    I just want to tell you that, I’ve been waiting for something like to this to be invented, and you guys did a wonderful job, Thanks so much for this awesome tool. I really can’t thank you enough.

  • Anna Yeaman
    February 2nd, 2015 21:32

    Cheers Eric!


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