I sincerely apologize for any and all ignorance. I am a developer with almost no 3D modeling experience :) Thank you all in advance for your help; you all are wonderful.

I currently use a third-party service called LiquidPixels to map an image onto a grid. LiquidPixels provides a Photoshop tool that enables creation of a 3D grid onto which an image may be mapped in order to produce a rendered object. There is a simple demo on their web site here. LiquidPixels refers to this grid + image mapping as "draping."

This has worked great. However, I want to in-house this functionality and use Blender, instead.

What steps should be taken in order to make this happen? Based on my very limited knowledge of things, I'm guessing it may look something like this?

  1. Create a grid/mesh in blender.
  2. Bend the grid as needed to be in the exact shape of the desired object.
  3. Wrap an image around the grid.
  4. Render the final image.
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    $\begingroup$ I might be misunderstanding you, but I think you are looking for uv unwrapping. youtube.com/watch?v=scPSP_U858k $\endgroup$ – icYou520 May 21 '18 at 19:59
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    $\begingroup$ Couldn't see your demo link, but I suspect it sounds trivial to do. From a workflow point of view you may want to "wrap your image around the grid" before deforming it. See blender.stackexchange.com/questions/57420/… $\endgroup$ – Duarte Farrajota Ramos May 21 '18 at 20:00
  • $\begingroup$ If you turn on the add-on Import Images as Planes that comes bundled with Blender, you will be able to bring your image as a mesh plane into Blender, already UV mapped. In edit mode, you can then subdivide the plane to the density you need, and then can go about sculpting the shape you want. If using the alpha, you can render just the distorted plane as an image through camera and then composite with the image of your desired object. Let me know if you need further explanation, and give me more data if this isn't the direction you are going. $\endgroup$ – Craig D Jones Feb 25 '19 at 18:41

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