With recent advancements in 3-D imaging and computational technologies, acquiring 3-D data is unprecedentedly simple. However, the use of 3-D data is still limited due to the size of 3-D data, especially 3-D video data. Therefore, the study of how to store and transmit the 3-D data in real time is vital. We address a technique that encodes a 3-D surface shape into a single 24-bit color image. In particular, this image is generated by advanced computer graphics tools with two primary color channels encoded as sine and cosine fringe images, and the third channel encoded as a stair image to unwrap the phase obtained from the two fringe images. An arbitrary 3-D shape can then be recovered from a single image. We test 3-D shapes with differing levels of complexity along with various image formats. Experiments demonstrate that, without significantly losing the shape quality, the compression ratio can go up to 1:36.86, compared with the native smallest possible 3-D data representation method.