Create a 3D Model From a Photo

5 Step-By-Step Guide

Using 3D modeling and rendering has become a usual approach to product design and marketing. For more than a decade manufacturers and marketers utilize 3D imagery for e-commerce, promo campaigns, new product launch, advertisement, SM marketing, and so on.

Usually, creating 3D objects is based on transforming 2D drawings into a 3D item. But sometimes, a manufacturer needs to create a 3D model from a photo because they don’t have blueprints or sketches, only photo references. In such cases, they need help from professional 3D artists more than ever.

Even after googling product 3D modeling companies and examining their portfolios, you still need to know which one of them can actually create a 3D model from photos. For this purpose, we made a simple step-by-step guide to explain how this process looks and what can you expect from 3D artists. Read on! 

#1. Collecting Comprehensive Information and Clarifying All the Details

A Photo of a Man Checking all the Data Before Starting 3D Modeling

When a 3D artist prepares to create a 3D model from a photo, first, they must discuss all the details with the customer. Clarifying the brief helps them define the future design more clearly so that when they proceed to 3D modeling, they can make an accurate 3D object of a product.

Even if the photo says a lot, 3D experts have to make sure what dimensions the 3D model should have, what materials to use, etc. The specialists need to collect all the additional information about the project from the customer — the references of the products, hand drafts, parameters, and so on. 

Even though the negotiation process may take some time, this approach ensures that 3D experts will create a 3D model in less time and its design will be as close to the original product as possible.

#2. Drawing Hand Sketches to Find Precise Proportions

A Man Creating Designs of a 3D Model Based on Photos

In cases, when a 3D artist should create a 3D model from a photo and has no information on the product’s size and geometry, they have to figure out the proportions of the item on their own. For this, a 3D specialist makes several hand sketches and uses them as the basis for 3D model creation.

An experienced 3D modeler knows how to create an object from photos since they have an engineering or product design background. These skills help 3D specialists to see how the parts of the object connect and how they supposed to work together. Therefore, a professional 3D modeler can build an accurate 3D model even with the minimum technical information.

#3. Building An Accurate 3D Model According to a Product  Photo 

3D Modeling of a Product Based on Photos

Each 3D artist models in a way that is more convenient for them while recreating the shape of the object. There are several types of modeling. The most basic one is solid modeling that allows building a 3D model out of basic geometric figures, such as a sphere or cube, by modifying those shapes.

Sometimes, it’s easier to make a 3D model using curves, especially if the original object is arched or curvy. This way of modeling is based on working with non-uniform rational basis splines, i.e. it’s NURBS modeling. 

The third way of creating a 3D model from photos is polygonal modeling, where the surface of the item is made of small triangles, namely, polygons. Each of these polygons can be easily changed and customized to fit the shape of the 3D model. This type allows making both high-poly and low-poly 3D models that could be used for different purposes.

#4. Sculpting All the Design Elements

Creating Smooth Surfaces and Detailing 3D Models Made from PhotographyAfter 3D artists have built the basic 3D form, they proceed to the next stage of modeling — meticulous sculpting of the object’s detailing. To create a 3D model from a photo, 3D specialists must also build all the design elements that the original product has – knobs, carvings, wheels, joints, etc. In addition, 3D artists have to smooth the relief of the 3D model and make sure it doesn’t have notches, seams, crevices and other defects.

Moreover, depending on the task, 3D specialists can make topology of a 3D model, i.e. reduce the number of polygons. In cases, when this 3D model is used for high-quality rendering, then topology is not needed. But if the 3D model is for VR/AR apps and games, then topology is a vital step. The fewer polygons a 3D object has, the faster it will be rendered by various engines and applications.

#5. Selecting and Applying Materials and Textures

3D Samples of Textures and Materials Used for Creating 3D Models

In order to create a 3D model from a photo that will look exactly like an original object, 3D specialists have to pick the right materials. At this point, the more references and data on the product they get from a client, the more realistic a 3D model will be. For example, based on this information, 3D artists will be able to select the exact type of wood instead of trying to guess it and dovetail the textures from their library. 

Traditionally, far-sighted 3D studios have large libraries of 3D materials and textures they accumulated over the years. However, if 3D artists need to create a 3D model from a photo and they don’t have the original surface map, they can make a custom one, using special CG software.

After choosing the textures, 3D artists must set them up and synchronize with settings of the materials. The proper applying of the textures is a complicated process — 3D experts have to adjust it to the shape of the object and make sure the whole surface looks seamless. For more a photorealistic effect, one needs to additionally set up the material properties — gloss, transparency, density, relief, etc. Professional 3D artists know how to tune the physical properties of materials in 3D so that even complicated materials, such as silk or leather, will look 100% real.

Download CGIFURNITURE price guide and learn the costs of top-tier 3D visualization projects of different scales!

product rendering price

When you need to create a 3D model from a photo, it’s best to work with professional 3D artists from a 3D modeling company. These specialists are trained in engineering and design and have plenty of experience. Just by looking at a photo, they can understand the design of the object and its proportions. So even based only on very little info, GG experts can think out the rest of the details and create an accurate photorealistic 3D model with no problems.

Want a 3D model of your product but only have photos as a reference? Contact us for 3D modeling services and our experts will make a photorealistic product 3D model in no time!

Irene Lewis

Content Writer

Irene is a content writer. She previously worked for interior and chess magazines. When not writing articles, Irene finds great pleasure in collecting Star Trek memorabilia, reading Medieval poetry and playing banjo.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *