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Creating 3D Objects with Cameras and Autodesk 123D Catch

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In this chapter you will learn how to use the iOS and web versions of Autodesk's 123D Catch to create 3D models of just about anything from your digital photos.
This chapter is from the book

Autodesk has a free service called 123D Catch that allows you to scan objects in 3D of just about anything, including people or buildings, using a regular digital camera—even with the one in your smartphone or tablet.

There are a couple of ways to use 123D Catch. In this chapter, we cover the use of the iOS and web versions of the software. Both require that you take multiple photos of your object, from every angle possible. Then you submit those photos to the 123D servers either from within the Apple iOS app or via your browser.

The 123D website then processes those images and presents you a 3D model of the object. We go over some tips to ensure the best possible success in capturing your model.

Photographing Objects

Let’s start with a handmade ceramic cactus that was purchased at a street market in Mexico about 20 years ago. The scanning process works best with objects that aren’t shiny because reflections can cause problems while processing the model.

Using an iPad and the 123D Catch app, approximately 30 photos of the cactus were taken from every angle of it (see Figure 4.2).


FIGURE 4.2 Using an iPad to photograph the cactus.

Start at one side of the object, and work your way around it, keeping the object fully in the frame, approximately the same distance for each photo. Alternatively, you can set up your camera in a fixed position and rotate the object you’re photographing. It’s better to have some overlap of the object in each photo than not because the software will figure out where to stitch the images together better.

You can review what you’ve captured by pressing the Review button, as shown in Figure 4.3. You can delete images or retake specific angles if they didn’t turn out simply by tapping on the photo.


FIGURE 4.3 Gallery of captured images for review.

If you touch the screen on the iPad with one finger, you can rotate the model. Using two fingers at the same time, you can pinch and zoom to adjust your view of the model. The model also can appear upside-down depending on the orientation of the camera used to capture it.

When you’re happy with the results, press the Finish Capture button, which takes you back to the Captures tab. Press the Tap to Process button to begin the process of uploading the photos to the Autodesk servers and begin converting the images into your 3D model.

When the software finished processing the model, it gave me the 3D model of the cactus (see Figure 4.4).


FIGURE 4.4 Reviewing the 3D model output from 123D Catch on the iPad.


FIGURE 4.5 Overhead view of 3D model.

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