Virtual calligraphic carving aims to generate 3D virtual carving works from 2D calligraphic images. This paper proposes a method of virtual calligraphic carving taking calligraphic carving work as a depth map composed of smoothness scalar field and brush-pressure distribution, which ensures the smoothness of carving surface and interprets the strength of calligraphy, respectively. On one hand, the smoothness scalar field is modeled as a bounded planar scalar field with sources and constructed by applying a series of algorithms. On the other hand, the brush-pressure distribution is represented by a map created by estimating the touching pressures employed by brush on paper. Then the depth map is composed of the smoothness scalar field and brush-pressure distribution map and rendered into a virtual calligraphic carving work. The experiments show that this method can generate virtual calligraphic carving works that are vivid and very similar to that of artists. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.