3D Scan Resolution Options
Updated: May 17, 2022
Exploring different resolution choices for mesh data and texture in 3D scans.
With all the possible options, it can be difficult to choose which resolution is best for your 3D scan project. While each project will have different needs, the first thing you may need to consider is this— what is more important, graphics or performance?
Generally speaking, higher resolution and textures will create more lifelike models while creating higher poly counts and larger file sizes. Conversely, lower resolutions will save you processing power and space on your computer but will ultimately look less convincing than their weighty counterparts.
Here's the good news— with such a large variety of options for both mesh and texture processing, it's easy to strike the perfect balance between the two. In this post, we'll be exploring and comparing a few options to help you get a better idea of what your project needs.
Resolution vs Polygons vs Texture
These three factors each contribute to the overall look and performance of your 3D scan.
Resolution is the level of detail visible on the mesh (determined by feature size). The smaller the resolution the smaller the features we can see.
Polygon count refers to how many polygons make up your mesh. The higher the count, the smaller the polys, allowing them to create more detailed shapes within your mesh.
Texture resolution refers to the size of the pixels that are mapped to your 3D scan.
If you process a mesh at a higher resolution it gives the scan a better starting point to reduce the polygon count. Processing at a higher resolution will give the mesh more features, and thus, when you reduce the polygon count, your mesh will better maintain curved areas of the mesh. However, there are times when you need to reduce the polygons to such a low level that you won't be able to reduce a high-resolution model low enough without causing noticeable problematic 'rough' areas. As such, requesting a low-resolution mesh may be a better option depending on the use of the mesh file.
Let's compare some different resolutions and polygon counts. We'll start by looking at the mesh without texture to give you a better picture of the details on each scan.
High Res High Poly
Mesh processed at 0.2mm resolution with 7,926,253 polygons.
High Res Med Poly
Mesh processed at 0.2mm resolution with 914,110 polygons.
High Res Low Poly
Mesh processed at 0.2mm resolution with 273,841 polygons.
Med Res High Poly
Mesh processed at 0.4mm resolution with 1,184,037 polygons.
Med Res Med Poly
Mesh processed at 0.4mm resolution with 299,999 polygons.
Med Res Low Poly
Mesh processed at 0.4mm resolution with 100,000 polygons.
Low Res High Poly
Mesh processed at 0.7mm resolution with 318,224 polygons.
Low Res Med Poly
Mesh processed at 0.7mm resolution with 100,000 polygons.
Low Res Low Poly
Mesh processed at 0.7mm resolution with 50,000 polygons.
To illustrate the idea that processing at a lower resolution allows for better polygon reduction, the High Res Low Poly image looks significantly rougher than the Med Res Med Poly despite having similar polygon counts. This is because we didn't have such a highly detailed mesh surface to start from with the Med Res Med Poly, allowing for a smoother finish on our mesh after reduction.
The higher the resolution and poly count, the more detailed the mesh becomes. That being said, it is not necessary for every project to require a 7M polygon mesh. Med res, med poly is often a great middle-ground for projects that require a fairly detailed mesh, with a limited number of polygons. Another option for projects requiring a smaller file size could be applying a high-resolution texture to a low-resolution low poly model. As you'll see below, texture can make up for a lot of lost detail in lower res/poly models.
Let's take a look at one of these 3D scans with texture applied. We'll be exploring three texture resolutions— 16k, 4k, and 1k. Each texture will be displayed on the low res, low poly model in the picture above to illustrate the impact a texture can have on the overall look of a scan!
16K Texture on A Low Res Low Poly Mesh
4K Texture on A Low Res Low Poly Mesh
1K Texture on A Low Res Low Poly Mesh
Here are a few things to note about texture resolution on 3D scans:
Texture can make up a for a great deal of lost detail in a low res model
There is a noticeable improvement between 1k and 4k textures
There is less of a noticeable difference between textures over 4k
We've illustrated some common resolution choices, but there are many more options available! If you are working on a scanning project with us, we are happy to process and export multiple resolutions of your scans for no extra charge. Have any questions about resolution options for your project? Reach out via email (email@example.com) or the contact form on this site!