How to 3D Scan and Print Yourself Properly (Head and Body)

3D printing is not a new technology, but it is always impressive and amazing when done accurately.

One of the most exciting and fun things that you can do with a 3D printer is to 3D scan and 3D print yourself! This works as a funny gift, or a cool way to preserve a miniature you in your home! 

If this sounds good to you, and you want to make a 3D model of your body, then this guide is for you! We have created a guide of what you need to 3D scan yourself, how to scan yourself, and how to make a 3D model print of your body! 

In its most basic form, to create a 3D model of yourself, all you need to do is use a 3D scanner such as an app like Photogrammetry, or a scanning booth.

This will then take a series of images in order to create a 3D scan. Then, you have to upload this file to a 3D reconstruction software site, where you can refine and edit the model before printing it. All you have to do then is print! 

We’ve made this sound so easy, and you may be wondering how exactly this is done. So, let’s dive into the process step by step so that you can make your own. 

What do you need to 3D scan yourself properly

You may be surprised to hear that most people use their phones to 3D scan themselves, it’s amazing what our smartphones can do, nowadays!

You can either use an application or a professional 3D scanner, but the process is not all that different. 

You will also need the software such as Photogrammetry, for scanning, along with Meshroom or Blender, to help you make a 3D model of your head and body. 

Various types of 3D scanners will work by capturing the shape of your body through a number of data points and measurements, these will then be combined and transformed into a 3D model that can be used for printing. 

To do so, 3D scanners have to utilize technology that has depth sensors, stereoscopic vision, and structured light scanners to properly capture the shape and details of your body in 3D.

These data points are combined into one file, and you will have a full fleshed out 3D scan of your face and body, ready to be used to make a model of yourself. 

The process of 3D scanning

This may all sound a little technical and complex, but it really is not that hard to comprehend.

Whilst it may be intricate in a technological way, we have all of the software and applications to make the whole process of 3D scanning relatively simple. 

All the same, we are here to breakdown the process in its simplest form, so that you know exactly what has to happen for you to have your 3D scan and 3D model. 

First, you use a 3D scanner through the phone or a scanning machine to gain the data. This is done with structured light lasers, which will hover over the object and take photographs to create data points.

Online software will then combine those data points to gain a detailed and realistic model of the object or person, within the model software. 

Whilst this sounds very simple when we break it down this way, there are a few things that you should consider before 3D scanning so that you get the best results, and you should know exactly how to 3D scan yourself to create a great model. 

One of the most important factors that you need to consider is that some 3D scanners are made for smaller objects, but they can be used to scan the body from head to toe. That being said it may be best to find a scanner that is suitable for what exactly you want to scan, so no detail is left out. 

You should also be made aware that there is a certain extent of accuracy when it comes to 3D scanning as most scanners can give precision and accuracy of between 30-100 microns.

In addition, you may have to think about the resolution of your camera, or of the scanner, as this may affect how your 3D model turns out. The better the resolution, the more accurate the image will be. 

Finally, you will have to think about the speed of the camera. This is not a problem if you are scanning a static object, but it may be if there are moving objects being scanned.

To counteract any issues with resolution and accuracy, simply adjust the speed of the camera to match the speed of movement and capture the image perfectly. 

How to 3D scan yourself

There are three main methods of 3D scanning yourself in order to make a 3D model.

These are with Photogrammetry, with a mobile 3D scanning app, 3D scanning booths, or a handheld 3D scanner.

Photogrammetry (or mobile 3D scanning app)

One of the easiest ways to create a 3D scan is with a smartphone camera, and the application Photogrammetry.

This is done by taking a series of images of all angles of an object, before uploading to the computer software, which will automatically generate a 3D model, using those images. 

This is demonstrated by Crosslink on YouTube: 

The great thing about this method is that anyone can do it, most people have smartphones nowadays, and you do not need a professional camera to create an impressive, detailed 3D scan of your desired object.

That being said, a professional camera such as a DSLR will certainly create more detailed models, but a smartphone camera works just fine!

Once you have taken your images, all you need to do is download some open-source softwares such as Meshroom, or AliceVision, which work exceptionally well with Photogrammetry.

Meshroom is a free software that focuses on 3D reconstruction, photo and camera tracking to produce 3D models that you can use to print. 

You can also use Blender to edit your images, followed by Cura to splice your images before printing. 

If you want to 3D scan in this way, the method is truly quite simple:

  1. First, get your desired object and make sure there is good lighting all around. If you want to create a model of yourself, then you may need a friend to take the images for you. 
  2. Then, you will want to take lots of pictures, from 50-200 images, and make sure that the images stay static in the same place, as you take images from all angles.
  3. Next, export the images that you took to Meshroom, and combine them together to make the object as a 3D model.
  4. Use the Blender app to clean up any imperfections, and ensure the accuracy of the image. Export to a slicer application.
  5. Slice the model with Cura, and print with a 3D printer.

Whilst this method is rather simple, there are quicker ways to get your 3D scan. If you look at the App Store, on iPhone, or the Google Play Store on Android, there is a vast abundance of 3D scanning applications. 

All you have to do is download the app you want to use, and take a picture of your face/body. Then, move the smartphone camera side to side, so that your camera can capture all angles of your face. You can then send the results from the app directly to your computer, and you can generate your model from there.

3D Scanning Booth

There are some companies that use 3D scanning booths to create 3D scans and models of people’s faces and bodies. For example, one company called iMakr, uses 3D scanning booths to create a Mini You model. 

You can visit one of their locations, and walk into a scanning booth. This booth will scan your full body image in 360 degrees to cover every angle accurately.

These scans are then saved and processed there, and turned into a print file. This file is then submitted to the design team, where a full color Mini You will be created, and then delivered to your door within a few weeks! 

Handheld 3D Scanner

Another option to capture your 3D image is with a handheld 3D scanner. Be aware that these are very expensive to purchase, so hopefully you can borrow one from a colleague if you just want to use it once to create your 3D scan of your body. 

If you are going to use a handheld 3D scanner, then you may need a friend to help you out! All you need to do is stand in a well lit room, with various different light sources so that there are no shadows cast upon your face, to capture every detail. 

Then, you will need your friend to move the 3D scanner slowly over the whole face and body, (or whichever parts you want to include in the model). Once this is captured, you can export the files to a computer, and edit and slice as usual to create the model. 

Additionally, you may be able to use an Xbox Kinect to accurately 3D scan your body ready for printing:

This can be collected by the camera and technology of the Xbox Kinect, and the software K-Scan. This tutorial will show you exactly how:

How to make a 3D model print of yourself

Once you have your 3D scan file made, edited and ready to go, you can start thinking about creating your own 3D model.

After you have gathered all of your photos, the rest should have been done by the Meshroom and editing software to create a model ready for you to print.

If you do not already have Meshroom, then you can download it here: https://alicevision.org/#meshroom

Once you are ready to print, we recommend following this video tutorial for a step by step instruction of how to create your 3D model, and get it ready for printing: 

If you have followed all of these steps, then you can save the file and upload it to a 3D printer, to create the physical, printed 3D model of yourself.

Best 3D scanner apps for 3D printing yourself

As previously mentioned, there is a plethora of 3D scanning and editing software available on the App store and on the Google Play store for you to try out!

However, if you want to play around with and get accustomed to 3D scanning, we recommend using one of the following.

Scandy Pro: This application is only suitable for iPhone users, and will turn your iPhone into a fully 3D scanner, to collect your images. You can then edit the scans in the app, and upload ready for printing. 

Scann3D: Android users can make use of this application to scan photographs of their desired object, and create an impressive 3D scan.

Qlone: This application is suitable for all smartphones, and works with Apple devices and Android phones, but you will need an advanced black and white mat that looks like a QR code in order to scan an object. 

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