How to turn a museum object into an interactive 3D model

How to turn a museum object into an interactive 3D model

How do you create a 3D model of an object?  A 3D artist studies an object and builds a 3D mesh.  Next, a texture artist paints a 2D map to wrap around the mesh.  The process is expensive and time consuming.. but actually, it isn’t anymore, there’s now a much easier way.

Intelligent software can now automatically build the interactive 3D model based on a series of photos.  Using Autodesk Remake we can take a Museum or Art object and within a couple of hours produce an interactive 3D model.  The model can then be viewed on a web page without the need for plugins or special software.  It’s very accessible, and a great way for visitors to preview objects on display.

Here’s one I made earlier:

So, here’s the How To.  Just a heads up, this is fairly technical (it may be occasionally frustrating) and it will take a few goes to get right.

  1. Download and install Autodesk Remake.
  2. Choose an interesting object.  One that’s matt in texture.  It can’t be shiny or transluscent.
  3. Prepare a soft lit room, bright enough to light the object but with no hard shadows.
  4. Place the object on a plynth.  Ideally supported so that you can easily photograph the underside.
  5. Get a high resolution camera.  Fill the camera frame with the object and circle around it taking pictures (physically circle the object, don’t turn it!). Maintain an even distance and height.  Take a shot about every 10 degrees; you should have 30 – 40 photos from one loop.
  6. Repeat this process,  taking shots from slightly above, and slightly below the object.  The aim is to capture every angle and facet of the object.
  7. Next upload the photos to Remake.  If you have insufficient computer memory to process ‘locally’, choose ‘online’ instead.  In about half an hour your model will be created.
  8. Download the model to a folder and re-open the downloaded file with Remake.
  9. There you have it!  A 3D model of the object.  Hopefully you have a decent model of your object.  If not, it’s likely a problem with photography.  Did you take enough pictures?  Did you light the object correctly?  If not, then start over.
  10. Delete any walls and random objects that have been captured accidentally by using the ‘select’ tool.  Simply highlight the areas and press the delete key.
  11. Export your model for web viewing, there are various model files.  An .obj file is perfectly fine.  The .obj export will generate a folder with an .mtl file and .jpg.
  12. Add your three files to a zipped folder.  This can be uploaded to (or other similar site).  Sketchfab will provide a handy embed code that can be used to place the final interactive 3D model on your website!  For social media, you can link to your website using a video of the object (this can be exported in addition to .obj file at the stage: 11)

If you want help creating 3D versions of your objects, feel free to get in touch.


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