Ever tried your hand in 3D modeling on Blender or Maya? It’s tough, isn’t it? How do the game industry or the movie industry produce so many games and movies with hundreds of intricate 3D models? It takes time, yes. It takes plenty of skills too. But there is also a little secret – they often use a shortcut, a technique called 3D scanning.
A 3D scanner is a device that analyzes a real-world physical object, collects data on its shape and appearance and then constructs a digital, three dimensional model of the object that can be used in a wide variety of applications. These devices are used extensively by the entertainment industry in the production of movies and video games, industrial design, orthotics and prosthetics, quality control/inspection and documentation of cultural artifacts.
3D scanners are sophisticated and expensive instruments. True, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create a cheap 3D scanner at home. All you need is a camera, a line laser (starting from about 10 Euros) and the free software DAVID-Laserscanner.
DAVID-Laserscanner produces surprising good results as seen from the images below. You don’t need expensive hardware to get good results. But a sensitive, good resolution and low noise camera is essential. A digital camera is perfect, but a webcam might not work. The laser can be bought from their online shop.
You can even scan texts and export them as 3D. The final digital model can be saved in .OBJ which is supported by all 3D modelling applications.