How to Capture a Person with 123D Catch

 

So you want to capture your friend or relative in 3D with your smartphone? You want to print it out in color for mini-me present? You can do this with 123D Catch, which is freely available for iOS and Android.

123D Catch captures of Aidan, AiR Pam and Carl.

 

The hardest part about this, though, is that the person has to stand perfectly still, which is nearly impossible for anyone to do. I've had some good results by using some of the tips below:

1. Have the person sit down. Use a chair that isn't going to cover their back too much, or use a stool.

2. Frame your photographs of the person from the chest up with a portrait orientation, so the top of the frame is just above their head and bottom of the frame somewhere around their chest.

Note: It is more challenging to capture a whole person, since the ground they stand on is not moving (for sure) but the person is moving/swaying slightly no matter how hard they try to hold a pose! This can produce a great model for the ground and surroundings, but some blurriness or distortion on the person.

3. Start by shooting photos from one side of the person (profile) and work your way across the face, then back to just before where you started. You should only do one loop around the person avoiding to reshoot any part of the face. A second pass on the face usually results in strange, split distortions or even a two headed person! As I go around the front, I usually make sure to get enough under the chin. When around the back I tend to make sure I get some top down photos to cover the top of the head.

4. Let the person you are shooting in on the plan that you will do one loop, and that it will take about a minute or so. I usually coach the people I'm about to capture by telling them:

  • Blink between shots (when I'm moving)
  • Close your mouth, avoid opening/clenching your jaw. (Holding a smile is hard to do and you may come out looking like the joker)
  • Be a mannequin.

5. Shoot as many photos as you can...QUICKLY BUT CAREFULLY. I usually get about 25-35 photographs in my loop around a person. Make a point to frame and shoot in good time while moving around a circular loop of the person. The faster you shoot, the least likely your subject will have time to move! Make sure not to compromise on quality however, as the photographs should not be blurry or poorly framed. The better the photograph, the better the model.

It took me some practice, but I can get consistently great results from these methods. Also, if you are not sure if the person moved (or they think they did) just start over!

When you are done, you can heal the capture for 3D printing in Meshmixer. Just log in to 123D within Meshmixer, and you will be able to open any captures you made with the app by clicking "Import...123D". Here is a video showing a typical workflow for how to heal the capture in Meshmixer.

For a color 3D print of the healed capture, export it from Meshmixer as an OBJ, which will also export the texture and MTL files. Zip them all up into a .ZIP file and upload it to a 3D printing service such as Sculpteo for a full color 3D print. I've had good success with either Sculpteo or imaterialise uploading the zipped OBJ, MTL and textures exported from Meshmixer.

 

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