Photographing in 3D: Exploration of Photogrammetry Techniques

The creation of 3D models for digital presentation or fabrication is often an intensive and time consuming process that requires an individual to have specialized knowledge and skills. This task is further complicated if you desire to recreate an existing object, for example, a historical artifact.

Autodesk’s Remake software simplifies the creation of 3D models by automating the photogrammetry process. ReMake will create a high-definition 3D model based on a series of photographs that can be taken with a basic camera. If you desire, you can edit and modify your model directly within the software prior to exporting it for digital pretension or fabrication. ReMake is easily accessible by the novice but offers more complex features for exploration.

Ahmad Khazaee, Director of Engagement and Support at Colgate University, and I explored the use of ReMake to create a “historical artifact.” For our investigation we chose a Buddha statue purchased from Amazon.

Ahmad used the equipment located in the Burke Video Studio located in the Case-Geyer Library at Colgate University (shown below).

With the object positioned on a stand, Ahmad rotated around the item capturing approximately 120 images at intervals of 10 to 15 degrees. Photos were taken from three different perspectives (frontal, top, and bottom) using a Nikon camera.

The series of photographs were uploaded to ReMake for model generation, and the resulting model was posted on Sketchfab for digital presentation (shown below).

I used the equipment available in The Hub located in the Case-Geyer Library at Colgate University (shown below).

Due to limited space, I used a turntable to rotate the object as I took a frontal photograph every 10 degrees (36 photographs in total). I used the same Nikon camera as Ahmad.

I also uploaded my photographs to ReMake to generate my model that I then posted on Sketchfab (shown below).

Buddha Head
by TheHub
on Sketchfab

Below is a picture of the 3D model that was printed on a Flashforge Creator Pro 3D printer (shown on the left) compared to the original historical artifact (shown on the right).

This was our initial exploration in the use of ReMake for the creation of 3D models for digital pretension and / or fabrication. I believe that the biggest takeaways I have to share is that the lighting of your workspace is very important, and the use of the Remake software simplifies the photogrammetry process.

In a future post we will detail the equipment, workflows, and techniques used to create these models. Stay tuned!

World Maker Faire: A Show & Tell for Everyone

20161002_092050The World Maker Faire can best be described as a show and tell for everyone. From October 1 to October 2, 2016 the World Maker Faire took over the New York Hall of Science to display a community of “makers” and technologies. With hundreds of “makers” and approximately 100,000 attendees the faire is a gold mine of creativity, teaching, and learning. From a saxophone that shot fire to a two-story high 3D printer to NASA simulations the Maker Faire had something for everyone to explore.

Split over five zones the faire included crafts, electronics, makerspaces, robots, and much more! Representatives from numerous companies (including ArduinoGlowforgeRaspberry Pi, and Sisyphus) were on hand to demo their products and / or offer free learning opportunities to interested participants. Participants learned to solder with Google and build drones with Radio Shack. Individuals with more sinister intentions learned to pick locks.

If attendees had a need for speed they checked out the Aerial Sport League (ASL) who hosted a first person view (FPV) drone race tournament during the two day event. Pilots flew drones at high speeds through an obstacle course hoping to achieve the fastest time over five laps…if they did’t crash or get caught in the protective netting. Ian Roy and Tim Hebert from Brandies University both participated in the event with Tim taking first place on the final day.

One of the many event sessions included an intercollegiate panel discussion, Instilling a Maker Mindset on Campus: Case Studies, hosted by Sabrina Merlo, Maker Faire Program Director. The session focused on the development of “makerspaces” to support the exploration and use of “emerging technology.”  Douglas Higgins (Colgate University), Jordan Tynes (Wellesley College), Ian Roy (Brandeis University), and Lucian Chapar (University of Connecticut) explored topics related to “makerspaces” in higher education with a focus on developing these spaces on campus. Over 100 attendees took the time to join the conversation, one of which was a prospective Colgate University student who is currently creating a “makerspace” at his high school.

In addition to the panel discussion each institution contributed to a booth for the event. Colgate displayed a drone fabricated by Ahmad Khazaee and other members of the Colgate community, and a variety of 3d printed items, including a full sized ukulele from Thingiverse.  These efforts did not go unnoticed, the booth won a blue ribbon for Maker Faire Editor’s Choice New York 2016!

What is 3D Printing? Why is it Important?

What is 3D Printing?


3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is a process of fabrication in which an object is created layer by layer, based on a 3D digital model. A variety of materials and technologies can be used in 3D printing; our printers use a heated extruder to deposit successive layers of plastic to create an object. 3D printing allows you to bring an idea rapidly from concept to reality. You can produce objects that can not easily be created by traditional manufacturing techniques, while maintaining low-cost and high accessibility. Check out 3D Printing Basics: The Free Beginner’s Guide, for more information about a variety of topics related to 3D printing.

Why is 3D Printing Important in Education?

3D printing has begun to revolutionize numerous industries including manufacturing, medicine, and fashion. The technology has inspired social activism. Organizations  like e-NABLE have developed around 3D printing. e-NABLE is a global network of volunteers who create free 3D printed prosthetic hands for those in need. 3D printing is also having an impact in education from primary to university level. Visualizations of complex geometries, molecules, and mathematical relations can be printed and manipulated. Accurate replicas of delicate artifacts can be produced and handled. Iterative design can be practiced with the falling cost of printing. Students exercise and develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills through the rapid development of prototypes to solve real-life problems. From engineering to the liberal arts, 3D printing provides students with new opportunities to experiment, design, and be creative.

Additional Resources

Checkout the websites below for more information about 3D modeling and printing.

3D Printing Industry


Models: Where Do They Come From?

Need a Digital Model?  Worlds-First-Color-Multi-material-3D-Printer-1

No model? No problem! There are multiple online services that host thousands of 3D models – many freely available! Check out Thingiverse, or one of the other sites, and grab a model. Just be sure to download as either an .OBJ or .STL file.

Want to Create Your Own Design? 

A variety of design programs are available for free. If you want to get started with 3D modeling, we suggest that you consider a web-based CAD tool. Tinkercad and Leopoly both offer an intuitive interface and easy transition into 3D thinking. OnShape is a more robust tool, offering the ability to test your designs in their simulator. Detailed tutorials for each of the programs are available on the companies’ websites. We encourage you to explore one of these software programs to modify an existing or create an original design.

A large number of companies make an array of design software to suit a variety of applications. Checkout for a list of other design software.

Back to the Future: 3D Scanning & Printing the Past

20160817_132521Colgate University’s Special Collections and University Archives houses an array of written materials and items related to the history of the University, and includes a series of Sumerian cuneiforms that date back to approximately 2100 to 2200 B.C. One of the earliest forms of writing, Colgate’s cuneiforms depict the financial transactions of the time. A “traveling” set of the cuneiforms are frequently transported to a variety of classrooms for faculty and students to view.

In 2015 Colgate’s Academic Technologies team experimented with 3D scanning, modeling, and printing technologies to increase awareness of, and access to, these technologies within the Colgate community. Through this work, Sarah Keen, Head of Special Collections and University Archivist at Colgate, expressed an interest in reproducing the “traveling” cuneiform collection.    

Several Colgate staff members, Douglas Higgins, Instructional Technologist, Allison Grim, Conservation Technician, and Rich Grant, Technical Director for Academic and Media Technologies worked to reproduce the set using multiple techniques. However, these techniques could not reproduce the details of the items.

During this time Doug Higgins collaborated several times with Ian Roy, Head of MakerLab / Assistant Director of Research Technology and Innovation, at Brandeis University, and Jordan Tynes, Manager of Scholarly Innovations, at Wellesley College. They agreed to provide their equipment and knowledge to Colgate to support the completion of this project.

20160817_142031 (1)On August 17, 2016, Mr. Roy and Mr. Tynes visited the University to 3D scan the “traveling” cuneiforms using two Spider scanners from Artec3D. With a 0.1 millimeter resolution the scanners are ideal for “heritage preservation.” It took approximately 10
to 15 minutes to scan and generate a digital model of each cuneiform. The models are available to be viewed on the
Hub’s Sketchfab site. These digital models allow us to share the cuneiforms beyond our local community or recreate them with 3D printing. In addition, the models reveal details not visible with the naked eye.


The applications for teaching, learning, and research of these 3D technologies are limitless. Objects from remote locations can be shared with colleagues to support research, or digitally and physically brought into the classroom for study. Digital collections could be made accessible to the local and global Colgate community. The Academic Technologies group is currently exploring ways to secure this type of equipment for the faculty, students, and staff at Colgate.

Written by Douglas Higgins