How to carve terrain maps - New tutorial on Instructables

I have written a detailed tutorial on how I use TouchTerrain to convert satellite imagery into a 3D model that can be carved with my MPCNC (or any CNC machine). And then how to carve and finish it. Here is an example of my latest work, including a resin ocean. It has a lot of practical details that should be enough to get you started if you have never done anything like this, or accelerate your progress if you have tried and gotten less than satisfactory results. I have been doing these for about 6 years now, and things got much easier since TouchTerrain came out!

I am also making a YouTube video to go with it, so please offer your comments and suggestions for improvements either here or as a comment on Instructables.


I see that Instructables is still “reviewing” my tutorial…Please check back in a day or two!
[after 19 November 2022]

If you have an Instructables login, you can see this draft version:


Looks like it’s up now to the general public. Looking forward to reading it and getting some good hints/tips. Thanks for putting it together!

Okay, it is up now at the original link,

All feedback and suggestions are welcome!


I have been interested in carving a NC State Topo in the shape of the state for some time now. I am getting stuck at the KML file part. How or where do I get a KML file in the shape of NC to use as my bounding box in TouchTerrain?

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The way I did this for Idaho was to blend a state outline image (which you can find with Google Image search) with the model in Blender. Not easy. That was before I used TouchTerrain, so the kml approach may be easier. I believe that in Google Earth, you can use your mouse to trace a state outline by clicking and record where you clicked as a .kml track. Here is an example.

Your guide is great! Well balanced between details and a swift overview. I see that you are skipping the option to use other terrain sources. It could sometimes be beneficial to use other services with greater resolution, depending on where on earth you are. But for the sake of keeping the instructions clear, I fully support keeping it trimmed.

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Thanks for your compliments!

I did cover that in Step 3, with a paragraph on data sources and mention of the pull-down menu where you can select different ones, Elevation Data Source.

I also mentioned at the end of Step 3 how if you need even more resolution, you may wish to use LIDAR data instead of satellite data. But I am afraid that those data are not in TouchTerrain yet.

Just came across in the featured email from Instructables! Congrats! Looks good!

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Wow, cool! Big boost on the number of looks and likes! I am hoping to win the CNC contest with this Instructable. So please click the heart! .
(I mean, the one on Instructables…But thanks for all your :heartbeat:s!)


I hope you win too!

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Wow, well, haha, I’m a little embarassed. I didn’t give your instructable a thourough enough look. When reading more closely, I very clearly see your step 3, which covers this in great detail!

Speaking of height data. In Norway, the ministry of cartography has lidar maps available for free. You can download whole of Norway with a resolution of 10 meters (to what I’m not sure!!). It’s “only” about 100GB. You can get much higher resolution as well, but then you are limitied to 4km*4km sizes.

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I am pleased to say that my Instructable has won a Second Prize from the Instructables judges today! I entered it in the CNC and 3D Printing Contest. Big thanks to those of you who :heart:ed it and spread the word.
There were many other great instructables in the competition.


This is great, thanks for sharing. Your instructable did not mention a post-processor for Vcarve. I assume since it is specific to a tool, but what are you using for your MPCNC?

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I am using the stock grbl (mm) post processor that is in Vectric’s long list of posts. You can read other topics here about my switch from Marlin to grbl. There is a Marlin post processor for Vectric on this forum somewhere, too.