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AMS Spring 2023

Did You Know You Can Turn a 2D Photo into a Printable 3D Model?

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squ4Do you have a favorite photo of a beloved pet or a special person that you’d like to see as a printable 3D model? This is certainly possible, as we’ve seen time and time again — and as explored in a recent Sculpteo blog post. It seems like 3D printing keeps offering more and more options to easily make 3D models, and now, Sculpteo is sharing tips on how to 3D print a model from a 2D photograph, too. Of course, the more photos you have, and the more detailed they are, the more detailed your model will be. So let’s see exactly how this is possible!

First you will want to familiarize yourself with software options like your Extrude Tool in your CAD software or any other software that you decide to use including MeshMixer, Blender, or SketchUp. Since photographs are two-dimensional, your extrude tool adds a third axis that creates new geometry for a 3D model. Smoothie 3-D is free online software that allows you to create a 3D model from even one photograph that can be symmetrically replicated. (See photos and video using squirrel photo below.) You have a few options here if you only have a few photos to work with. You can use solutions described for one photo (Smoothie 3-D), you can check out 3D modelling software like ZBrush or Sculptris, or you can seek help with your model from a 3D designer.

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What if you want to create a 3D model from photos, but you haven’t taken the photos yet? There are some definite things you can do to optimize this process. The trick here is to use photogrammetry, which is a technique that captures a series of points in space from a series of photographs. You simply take photos of an object from many angles and then upload them into photogrammetry software to generate a file to 3D print. A digital singlesqu3 lens reflex camera seems like it will work the best here, since it produces the highest resolution pictures. Also, you want to work with a lighting device to ensure that shadows are reduced so they don’t blur your photographed object’s outline. Finally, a tripod to place you camera on will help keep the photos stabilized, less blurry, and consistent. You should also read Sculpteo’s ten commandments for optimal shooting to create your 3D file here.

Sculpteo also recommends other helpful software programs like 123D Catch, Memento, Photoscan, and Acute 3D to help prepare your 3D file. Once you have your 3D file, you simply need to print it, and Sculpteo recommends printing your model using full-color sandstone material so you can get the best print job possible.

Now that we’ve reviewed available software programs and photography techniques for ensuring the best quality photos, you should have a much easier time converting your 2D photos into printable 3D models. Is this a process you are interested in trying out? Discuss in the 2D Photos to 3D Prints forum over at 3DPB.com.

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