I’m putting up a few of my experiments with 3D scanning up online so I can easily refer people to what’s possible.

The 3D models of two different blocks of wood below were made using specialised 3D scanning equipment available for use at Melbourne University’s Engineering Workshop. Most institutions have such equipment hidden away somewhere. You just have to know who to ask. Click the play buttons to load and then rotate:

Here are the originals for comparison:

And in case you can’t load the models on your device, here’s two screen grabs that gives you an idea of the fidelity:

This kind of specialised scanner often comes with specialised software, seen in action below. You can use it to tidy up the model as you scan it. For instance, you can cut off the table that was caught up incidentally in the scan (see below). Then you can merge two different scans into the one model. This was done with the smaller block of wood and not the larger. You can see the strange alien bulbous protrusion that has been “made up” (extrapolated) by the software in the large block of wood. This is where the block of wood was touching the table.

Handheld scanner on the right and the lazy-susan to rotate the object rather than the scanner on the left. In practice the lazy-susan is rotated and the scanner is moved about to get a full coverage of the object.

I’m not really in love with the models that are produced. They reflect reality. There’s not much more to them. Big whoop. What I really like are the glitches when things go wrong. They’re beautiful. This kind of high end equipment doesn’t make many of those and future iterations will be even better.

There is, however, the lovely files that are produced that contain the texture/skin that is stretched over the 3D model. They are flat, to be plastered over the 3D mesh just in time for viewing. They are Lovecraftian. I love them:

Imagine if you scanned a face and them got that file. I don’t recommend it.