3D Printing from Photogrammetry

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Blender

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What Have I Gotten Myself Into Now?

This was going be be a blog about using Blender to create 3D scenes. Sort of. I’m just barely starting to learn Blender, so it wasn’t going to be anything fancy or in-depth.

But, I went down a rabbit hole. Imagine that! I started with the ASDM Rock I photographed a few months ago (see my post PHOTOGRAMMETRY: 3D Models from Photos), and was going to try to add some sunshine, and animate the sun moving across the rock, and maybe in the future create some somewhat realistic looking grass around the rock. But, I got sidetracked and decided to try to 3D Print the rock. Not at full scale(!). Just a little plastic rock I could put on my desk.

Blender

OK, so what is Blender? From Wikipedia, “Blender is a free and open-source 3D computer graphics software toolset used for creating animated films, visual effects, art, 3D printed models, motion graphics, interactive 3D applications, virtual reality, and computer games.” Did you read all of that? Free. Open Source. 3D computer graphics software. Animation.

Blender is used to create everything from 2D and 3D still pictures to full length animated movies. Wow!

I’ve known about Blender for several years (at least). I’ve looked at it a few times, but every time the learning curve scared me off. But it can do so much. And FREE, so no big investment (except my time) to play with it. After playing a bit with Open Drone Map, creating 3D models from “just a bunch of photos,” I thought maybe I should look at Blender again. So for the last 4-6 months I’ve been watching tutorials on YouTube and LinkedIn Learning, being awed by what others have done with Blender, and wondering if I could accomplish anything significant with it.

Very brief recap of my blog on Photogrammetry: I shot 40 photos with my cell phone of this cool looking rock that is located in front of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum outside of Tucson, AZ. I then used Open Drone Map to process these 40 photos to create a model of the rock, and used Blender to do some very minor editing to eliminate the extraneous parts of the model. I uploaded the model to Sketchfab, where you can view it in all of its 3D-ness.

Starting with this same model, I used Blender to create a base and export it to an STL file, which can be used to print a 3D model. That sounds rather mundane, but I spent many hours trying to get the initial model ready for 3D printing. Several YouTube videos later, I managed to create something that would print nicely. I also added a little sunshine to the scene, just because I could.

For comparison with the printed model, here is one of the photos in the sequence that was used to create the model.

Rock at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Entrance
Rock at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Entrance

Here is the ASDM Rock, as rendered in Blender. I added a little sunshine to the scene, just because I could :-).

ASDM Rock, from Open Drone Map model, rendered in Blender
ASDM Rock, from Open Drone Map model, rendered in Blender

The final result? Here is my printed “rock.” I think it rather accurately represents the original rock!

3D Print of Rock in Photo Above
3D Print of Rock in Photo Above

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