Immortalize your face! In this article, we generally describe how to obtain a 3D face model, whether you need it for a graphical application or 3D printing!
Simply put, 3D scanning is the process of turning a real-world object into a 3D virtual model. The resulting model can be used for many different application areas, including animation, architecture, and 3D printing.
3D scanning will be the key to producing a 3D model of your face. But perhaps you’re unsure about the scanning process. In that case, we’re here to tell you that it can be both easy and cheap!
Many believe, for example, that scanning equipment costs a lot of money and isn’t accessible to everyone. The truth is, you can scan objects with devices as simple as your phone! Then, preparing the 3D model can be just as simple thanks to free programs such as Meshroom.
In this article, we guide you through the process of scanning an entire human head, including the face. To that end, we’ll look at the necessary equipment, how to scan, and finally how to process the resulting model.
There are several ways to scan your face, depending on the recording equipment you use:
Depending on the device you choose to scan with, you’ll need a particular software tool in order to start scanning:
At this point, it’s important to note that, for the options discussed so far, there are two types of techniques used to produce 3D models from real-world objects: photogrammetry and 3D scanning.
Photogrammetry consists of taking multiple pictures at different angles and later stitching them together. This is what’s typically done using a smartphone, webcam, or camera.
The advantages of this technique are that it requires less sophisticated equipment, doesn’t require a PC to be used simultaneously, and can be done in outdoor environments. The main drawback is that the final results aren’t generally as clean as with 3D scanning.
Moreover, photogrammetry requires a lot of processing power in order to turn photos into a 3D model. With a slow computer, this could mean a tiring process.
Although the 3D scanning process might appear similar to taking pictures, what’s happening in the “background” is much different. That’s because the scanner, with the help of a PC, generates the model as it identifies points on the surface of the target object.
Some scanners can provide outstanding scan quality, and scans are done in real time without the need for heavy post-scan processing. Nevertheless, the scanning device itself typically represents an extra expense and cannot easily be used outdoors.
With your equipment and software ready, it’s time to start capturing your face! Again, the process depends on the particular technique you’re using.
If you’re using a smartphone, your app will likely guide you through the “scanning” process. Some more sophisticated 3D scanners might also provide some guidance.
Nevertheless, here are the basic steps:
In the case of photogrammetry, the more photos the better, but anything more than 40 images should be enough to produce good results. Once finished, transfer the photos to your computer in preparation for processing.
For 3D scanning, once the entire face has been covered — visible through your software — click the “stop recording” button and the scanning process will be finished.
Once again, this process will depend on the specific software you’re using, but it should be relatively straightforward, regardless. Programs like Skanect, Agisoft Photoscan, and Meshroom have step-by-step procedures that are very easy to follow.
Regardless of the 3D scanning technique used, most of the work should be handled by your software. The only things you might have to worry about are adjusting settings and exporting the final model.
Most platforms will offer a variety of export file formats. STL, for example, is most suitable for 3D printing.
Feature image source: Microsoft Research / YouTube
License: The text of "3D Face Model – How to Make a 3D Model of Your Face" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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