One of the most appealing things to try and do with your new 3D printer is to 3D scan yourself and 3D print a model of your head. Although some would consider having a bust of yourself quite vain, 3D scanning yourself is a really fun project you can do.
Thanks to the wide variety of available tools today, it’s super easy to do. Let’s dive in.
How do you 3D scan yourself?
The easiest way to 3D scan yourself is through a process called photogrammetry. You take photographs of yourself at an equal distance from all angles and upload the photos to a special software that combines all the photos into a 3D model.
Done correctly, photogrammetry produces quite remarkable results. Not only can you 3D scan yourself, but you can also use this process to 3D scan any object.
This video by Prusa Research is a really detailed guide to getting started with photogrammetry:
To 3D scan and print yourself, you’ll need some equipment and software:
- A camera or phone to take photographs of yourself
- Meshroom or AliceVision software to process the photos into a 3d scan
- Blender to edit your 3D bust
- Cura or Simplify3D for slicing
How to 3D scan yourself with a phone or a camera
The quality and amount of photos you take are crucial for getting good scanning results. While modern smartphone cameras are really good and you can certainly use them if you don’t have anything else, use a DSLR or mirrorless camera to get the best possible results.
Remember, the more detail your images capture, the better your end result will be.
It’s worth noting that you don’t need image with many megapixels – the detail captured by your camera depends on the size of the sensor. Phone cameras have tiny sensors, whereas DSLRs and mirrorless cameras have much bigger sensors.
Also, larger files will take longer to process in the 3D modeling software, so take smaller megapixel photos. Resolutions of 1280 pixels wide up to 1600 pixels wide will do just fine.
You’ll also need a tripod or some place to keep your camera steady as you take photos.
How to take photos of yourself with someone’s help
- Sit on a chair in the middle of a room or somewhere that someone can go all around you quite easily
- For best results, take some string or a large mat and trace a circle on it. Sit in the center of the circle, and your friend will go around the circle as they take photos.
- Start with the camera facing you and take one photo
- For decent results, you want a photo at least once every 10 to 15 degrees. If you are using the traced circle, it’s useful to divide the circle into 36 equal portions for 10 degrees, or 24 equal portions for 15 degrees
- Ask your friend to move along the circle and take a photo of your head from every mark. By the time they end up facing you again, you should have 24 to 36 photographs.
- Remember to keep your head still between photos, and ask your friend to keep your head in the same place in the frame for every photo!
- Once you have photos from a straight angle, ask your friend to take photos all around the circle once more by angling the camera down a little. This will help get the top of your head, too.
- In total, you’ll end up with 50-72 photographs
How to take photos of yourself alone
As you can imagine, it’s rather challenging to take a photo of the back of your head!
Here is how you can take photos of yourself if you’re going solo.
- Sit on a swiveling chair for best results, or stand in place
- Place a camera or mobile phone on a tripod and position yourself so you are in the frame
- If you have a remote or a selfie stick, you can use it to take a photo, so keep it on hand
- Take a photo
- Turn about 15 degrees, and take another photo
- Repeat standing in the same spot until you’ve completed a full rotation
- Reposition the camera so it is angled down
- Repeat steps 4 to 6
If you don’t have a remote for your camera, you can also shoot a video and turn very slowly, then extract the frames using the screenshot command as you watch the video.
Processing the photos in Meshroom/AliceVision
Note: you’ll need an Nvidia GPU for this to work. If you don’t have one, skip down to our section on 3D scanning apps below.
Simply put, you just have to drag and drop your files into Meshroom and hit the compute button to get things going. However, there may be some adjustment required, so it will be easier if you follow the video.
Apps to 3D scan yourself
Scandy Pro is one of the best 3D scanning apps on iOS. You’ll need an iPhone X or later for this to work.
Scann3D is an Android app that combines photographs into a 3D scan.
Use a professional 3D scanner
Making 3D scans from photos will only get you results that are so good, so if you’re looking for really professional-looking output and results, you’ll need to invest in a 3D scanner.
We’ve made a list of the best 3D scanners here, which you can check out. Just be warned: 3D scanners are not cheap!
Using photogrammetry to 3D scan yourself is a really cool weekend project to do alone, with your partner, your kids, or your buddies. It takes a bit of practice and trial and error to get the results right, so don’t expect to end up with a lifelike bust in the first go!