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  • Writer's pictureArkify Team

Sculpting and Modeling With 3D Scans

Starting with a 3D scan base for your modeling project can be an effortless way to reduce time and increase detail in your 3D works.

Do you enjoy crafting detailed 3D models, but stress over how long it takes to finish each piece? Perhaps you're particularly interested in sculpting specific parts of a 3D object, but find modeling up the base parts tedious. Or maybe you love the entire process, but just can't seem to achieve the right amount of detail when you're modeling by hand.

The solution? Use a 3D scan as a starting point for your project! Swapping in a 3D scan base mesh for your usual routine can cut modeling time in half (sometimes more) and give your model detail previously out of reach. This technique can also allow 3D artists to jump into the creative portion of their work right away since the base work has already been done for them. In this article, we'll be briefly exploring a few example ideas — in progressing complexity—on how 3D scans could be applied to your next project.

Example #1 - Modeling Objects Around A Scan

Starting with a simple example— our floral locket 3D scan (pictured right). Since the locket's chain was more challenging to scan (due to its small size, lack of rigidity, and reflective material), our team decided to scan the locket by itself and replace the chain in Blender afterward.

we were able to model up a basic chain of torus shapes by following this short tutorial by CG Cookie on Youtube. The chain was then connected by adding a small half-torus to the top of the locket that looped through it. Overall, our entire process took about 15 minutes from start to finish.

Example #2 - Modeling & Sculpting in Missing Components

Moving on, this WOW Deathwing figure was missing his arms— so our team modeled him some new ones in Blender! Using Blender's built-in sculpting tools, we were able to turn a basic cone shape into a spikey tentacle arm. We then duplicated the arm and aligned them to each side of Deathwing's torso where his original arms had been. After some adjusting of their positions and a little blending with the sculpting tools, the new arms fit perfectly to his body.

On the topic of collectible mini-figures, it should also be noted that this approach could also be used to create custom 3D printable gear and modifications for existing figurines!

Example #3 - Adding Detail With a Particle System

An already detailed 3D scan can be quickly enhanced in Blender with a particle system or geometry node! We added a “fuzzy” effect hair particle system to this cat ear beanie in 5 minutes following an easy tutorial by PIXXO 3D on YouTube. The scan retained the same knit line and fold details underneath while gaining the added realism of a soft fiber texture.

Example #4 - Building Upon A Scan Using a Combination Of Techniques

Our last example, a gingerbread man cookie 3D scan (pictured right), has had a combination of Blender modifications added to it to create the decorated cookie on the left. Starting with the plain cookie scan as the base, we modeled a layer of frosting on top and embellished it with an assortment of sphere shapes to create candy details. We then used Blender's texture paint feature to paint color details on the modeled frosting layer. Finally, for added realism, we applied a geometry node-generated crumb sprinkle to the model's edges.

As you can see from the examples above, adding additions or modifications to 3D scans is a quick and easy process. Due to their strong starting points, all of these projects were able to be completed in under an hour, leaving us with more time and energy to create other great models!

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