Over the past few weeks, we at 1313 Innovation decided to experiment with Autodesk 123D Catch. One of the things that intrigues us most about this whole new world of 3D technology is the ability to quickly and easily customize and prototype objects. Cheap (read: free) and powerful apps that give people that ability will be key to wide scale adoption from the general public. In our eyes, it is apps like 123D Catch that will make this a possibility.
The app is exceptionally simple to use. Take about 30-40 pictures of the object that you wish to scan, upload them to Autodesk’s servers (wi-fi very necessary), and a short time later you end up with your 3D model. Voila. Magic.
Here are our attempts at 3D Scanning with the app:
First, let’s revel in how poorly that first one came out. I greatly appreciate my inverted head. After working through this first attempt, we went ahead and did some research for ways to make the head not look deformed. There are plenty of great tutorials available, but one of the best tips that we saw was to use something to mark off the 3D scan. This gives the algorithm that pieces together the scan consistent reference points. We found references to painter’s tape as being particularly useful for this.
Portrait of Megan
For our second attempt, we attempted to find painter’s tape, but to no avail. Some quick MacGyver-ing later, we decided to use highlighters taped to Megan in order to get the same effect. Lo and behold, this worked out way better. Most of the 3D scan came out exceptionally well. We’re actually still pretty impressed with it. Some clear issues show through on this one as well, though. Megan’s face came out pretty blurry and we didn’t intend to get a scan of the full innovation center. There wasn’t much we could do about her face, but deleting out the background was simple with the tools provided by Autodesk. Overall, it was a pretty easy experience.
The final attempt was actually the least staged of all of the attempts. Wilmington, DE has an art loop on the first Friday of every month (you should go to this). Inside the Delaware College of Art and Design was this really interesting sculpture of an angel made out of cards. It seemed like a really cool thing to have a 3D scan of, so we did it. All of the pictures were extremely tight to the sculpture. As it turns out, this was the best way to go about it. The scan has almost no errors and is quite impressive. It’s one that we’re proud of.
This is an extremely powerful free app that can perform some high quality 3D scans. There were a few things that we found to help along the scan:
- Use something as a reference for your 3D scan. Painter’s tape (or highlighters) will work best
- Use the editing tools available from Autodesk. You can patch holes and delete extra portions easily
- Take close ups of the item you’re 3D scanning. It will make a big difference on your final scan
It will be exciting to see how the app ends up progressing with future updates. We’re even more excited to try 3D printing some of our scans in the future. As we move towards the ability to customize our objects with 3D scans and prints, apps like 123D Catch will give consumers a greater ability to customize on their own.