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How to 3D scan an object with your phone

Your phone may be much more capable than you thought. Here is a complete guide on how to 3D scan an object on your phone.


smartphone 3d

Buying a smartphone means having access to various features aimed to make your life easier. You can use them for photographs, social media, and even indie filmmaking.

But did you know phones can also function as 3D scanners?

If this is your first time encountering the technology, you might find it an enigma. Don’t fret, we’ll help you out.

With this guide, you’ll learn how to 3D scan an object using your smartphone. Read on and find out more:

How to 3D Scan an Object

The market is chock full of 3D scanning applications made specifically for your smartphone. The good news is that a vast majority of 3D scanners use the same procedures when scanning objects. The first step is to put the subject for scanning somewhere accessible.

It means your location should allow you to walk around it. This will apply whether the subject is an object or a living person. The app will have an indicated scanning procedure, and your camera sensors should collect the necessary data.

After finishing the 3D scan, the app will turn your collected data into its digital 3D model version. You can save the resulting model and use it however you wish. You can 3D print it or use it as your 3D avatar in VR games and other applications.

Tips for a Successful 3D Scanning Process

With the 3D Mapping and 3D modeling market growing at 17.5% every year, 3D scanning can be a lucrative process. But to make the most out of it, you must do it right. Remember, you must follow basic guidelines regardless of the user-friendliness of the 3D phone scanner you have.

That’s why you must use these tips if you want your 3D scan to be successful. That way, you’ll develop habits that let you avoid mistakes when scanning either a person or an object:

Scanning Objects with a Smartphone

The first thing you must do is to use the right lighting when scanning objects. It matters not whether it’s indoors or outdoors. As long as you have bright light spreading equally around your subject, you’re good to go.

Take note, an artificial light source is a must if you’re doing your 3D scan during the night. If you have objects with complicated shapes, ensure that the light won’t make shadows. It’s also a major consideration if your subject has edges or hollowed out.

The shadows will cause the 3D scanning software to misread the objects. This also happens if your distance around the object isn’t equal throughout the scanning process. To ensure object consistency, be aware of how it fits your phone screen and find an optimal distance.

Things to Avoid When Scanning Objects

Also, scanning moving or thin objects isn’t advisable. Examples of these include tree leaves, especially ones falling during the autumn. Also, opt-out of scanning plain objects since they have no geometry complexion.

Plain objects also cause reflections that the 3D scanning process can’t capture without problems. It can also arise when the object your scanning has a similar texture or color as the background. If you do this, expect the final result to have an inaccurate object depth.

With this, know that it’s almost impossible to scan transparent objects. After all, they won’t stand out from their background.

Scanning People with a Smartphone

The pleasant news is that the process of scanning people’s faces using your smartphone is simple. To ensure your phone properly captures your subject’s face, scan it from ear to ear by walking around them. Ensure that you get the various angles of their face since it helps to capture even the edges.

Like scanning objects, maintaining a consistent distance while scanning a person’s face is necessary. Walk with a set distance around the person to keep ensure that their face has a proper 3D representation. There’s nothing more horrifying than a deformed 3D model.

Also, you must remember that stringy objects aren’t easy to scan. That’s why don’t feel disappointed if your 3D modeled hair has a less-than-ideal representation. To maximize your success, ensure that you’re scanning the person using a plain, brightly-lit background.

This will enable the camera’s depth sensors to know the difference between their head and the background. It also means ensuring that the subject stands still while keeping the same facial expression throughout the process.

Examples of 3D Scanning Software for Smartphones

If your smartphone has no 3D scanning app pre-installed, it’s easy to download one. You can find some on any app store these days.

The ones we’re listing here use the photogrammetric method for scanning faces. It’s a scanning technology that uses 2D photos to make 3D models.

  1. Trnio

    This is one of the best 3D scanning applications on the smartphone market. Take note, it’s exclusive to iOS, with two scanning modes: object and scene. These modes give instant guidance, with the former capturing the object while user the walks in a circle around it.

    The latter sees more use when free-form scanning. It means you can 3D scan the outdoors or gigantic objects.

    But what makes Trnio shine is its use as a social media platform. You can make a profile to showcase your 3D scan. You can follow other people’s accounts and they can do the same.

  2. Scann3d

    This is one of the best software for Android. Its interface is easy to understand, meaning even beginners can use its instant 3D reconstruction feature. It’s possible since the app takes 20-30 overlapping photos around your subject when scanning.

    With that, the 3D render is automatic. The result will come out within a few minutes, depending on the number of input pictures. You can also share this 3D model on Sketchfab without post-processing.

Learn 3D Scanning Today!

These are things you should remember if you want to know how to 3D scan an object. Whether it’s an object or a person, this guide will set the foundation for your success.

Did this guide help you start 3D scanning? Do you want to know what else you can do with the technology? If you do, feel free to browse our content and check out our other posts!

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