3D models are seen everywhere these days, from television and magazines to movies and video games. At one time, these models had to be made entirely from scratch, with artists building models in one program, and creating textures in another, and trying to make the two mesh properly. But through the use of programs like PhotoModeler, it is possible to create a complete 3D model using nothing but photos.
1. Take three photos of the object. The program can work with fewer than three, but it’s best to have at least three. Take corner shots. Try to take photos where the lighting is even, and there are no physical obstructions.
2. Open PhotoModeler. In the “Getting Started” dialog that opens, select “Points-based project.” Then browse to the photos you want to use, and click “All” to add them to the project. Click “Next.”
3. In the dialog that opens next, the program will ask for you to select a calibrated camera that took these photos. If you have not previously calibrated the camera, then skip this step by selecting “An unknown camera” and clicking “Control Points.”
4. Double-click the first photo. Click on the “Line” tool at the top, and start defining corners with the tool. As you do so, the program also automatically adds lines. For instance, if you are working on a box, you define the points in the corners, and the program supplies the lines running from corner to corner. Zoom in and out using the mouse scroll. To start a new line, right click and “End Draw.”
5. Select another picture, preferably taken from the corner at 90 degrees from the first one. Click on “Referencing Mode” (the green chains icon). Click on the first photo, go to Edit and click “Select All.”
6. Select the second photo again, and click on the corner that corresponds to the one currently being highlighted in the first photo. Continue doing this with each new highlighted point. When the program has enough points, a camera icon will appear in the thumbnails. Add the third photo, and, again referencing the first photo, mark the corners with points. If a point in a photo cannot be seen, press the “ESC” key to go on to the next one.
7. Open the 3D view, and if there are any missing lines, click on “Line Mode, and in the 3D view add in the missing lines. Close the opened photos, leaving the 3D view open. Click on the “Paths Surface’ tool (the diamond shape).
8. Select the lines making up three sides of a surface, right-click and select “Finish Surface”. Do this with all the sides until all have a surface. The ‘surface” referred to in PhotoModeler are what are called faces or polygons in other programs.
9. Click on the 3D Viewer Options, and turn off “Lines” and “Points.” In the same dialog box, select Surface Type and click “Quality Textures.” PhotoModeler maps the images onto the model, creating a texture map for the model.
10. Select File, then Exports and click “Export Model.” In the dialog that opens, select “Wavefront obj” as the file type, since this is the most commonly used file type, and it imports into most 3D programs. Make sure “Phototextured Materials” is on. Name the file, and click “Save.”