Scanner 3D tutorial

Did you ever needed to move real objects from your surroundings on to your computer, and I’m not talking about the pictures but a fully three-dimensional model. Possible for 3D printing. There are for this purpose special 3D scanners, but in most of theme prices starts from a few thousand, and few of us can afford them. One day I was looking for cheaper alternatives and it turned out that this can be achieved by using affordable solutions.


Initially, when I was starting this project I was thinking of creating a simple 3D scanner. On youtube you can find several tutorials on this issue as the one shown below:


It looked quite well, only camera was needed with some minor preparation and most importantly, already quite extensive software was supplied free of charge from this website:

Unfortunately, instructions are from 2010 and a lot has changed in this time, the software now uses a projector and a camera for reading images and despite my efforts, I could not run it just like I planned it


Another attempt was to create my own 3D scanner using one or more lasers and a module for Arduino to build this type of toy:

Unfortunately, from what I saw, it was a solution only for small objects and I planned to be able to scan small and large items like a human body.


So I needed to look for other solutions. As a result of my searches it turned out that currently playing with the laser and the scanning is not necessary. Approaching the issue from the other side we only need an ordinary digital camera or even cell phone camera and appropriate free software:

Autodesk 123D Catch –

Meshmixer –


First we need to properly shoot our object. Autodesk has a well-explained rules on how to make photos to acquire the best results:


For testing purposes, I decided to use this wooden eagle:

In this case, pictures must be taken in equal intervals from the front, top and optionally from the bottom of the object, in order to fully reproduce its form. Photos should be done in the same light conditions without using flash at non-moving object. Personally, for me it is easier to record a video and cut it into frames in some software. For example VLC, which I recommend to play movies but it can also be used for cutting the movies into frames ( httpss:// ). Certainly, the use of a tripod would help in achieving good results, but personally I did not have that posibility. As a result, we need 50 to 70 fotos (more we can not use in the 123D Catch software).


Once we have prepared photos lets run 123D Catch. Select “Create New Capture”. You probably will be asked to create an account which we do, the service is free. After the necessary bureaucracy we will be asked for our captured photos. Upload may take a while so it’s a good time to take a coffee. When we get results there’s great chance that on the picture will be much more than we would like to be. Redundant environment should be removed using a lasso tool (area will be highlighted in red then we can remove it by pressing del). Finally, we should get something more or less like this:



It looks alredy pretty well, but our object still have a hole at the bottom and sometimes there may be holes in other places. So we export our project (File- & gt; Export) to .obj format then lets run autodesk meshmixer. We import the just saved file. Our object should apear. Blue borders will inform us about places where our object has holes. So we choose the left panel Analysys – & gt; Inspector. There, select smooth fill and click auto repair. Our work is done we can export it again and use either in 3D printing or as part of a virtual scene.



In the end it is not ideal, however, you can certainly improve the final results. First of all use of better equipment, in my case it was just a normal cell phone camera. Then you could use the tripod. Appropriate light and better picture taking. If we know a bit about 3D graphics, we can try and correct the imperfections of the object. Personally, I recommend to this Blender software though there are many other good solutions. Experience also has considerable importance here are my second results:


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