What do you want to learn about photogrammetry?

For the last 13 years I have worked with the artist Tom Otterness. With Tom and his crew of assistants, I have developed a method of digitizing and enlarging his hand made maquettes, using Rhino to create armatures to hand build full scale patterns for casting, and to design elements for fabrication to meet the hand made features. You may see examples of his work made with this process at Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, and soon at the Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart, Tasmania.

I have been amazed at the accessibility and affordability of photogrammetry software to digitize and generate high quality, beautifully textured or vertex colored meshes. There is even free software, Alice Vision Meshroom, that is easy to use, and though not as fast as other software, still is able to produce a beautiful result.

I want to share the knowledge I have about how to create beautiful, detailed models using photogrammetry, and then how they can be used in a variety of ways, including in Rhino, by artists and designers. I have a short, confidential, one question survey here. Fill it out if you are interested in learning more. Your answers will help me to know what the community needs.

Thank you,


Hi Seth - please explain in your note above what the survey is doing - it looks to me like it is getting a count of potential interested parties - is that correct?


Hi Pascal,

Yes, I am hoping to learn if anyone is interested in the topic, and if so how it might be useful to people.

People can also simply reply here or direct message me. I can remove the link if you prefer?

Here are some good tutorials on photogrammetry and using software such as Meshroom or RealityCapture.

Full Photogrammetry Guide for 3D Artists from 80 Level

Meshroom for Beginners from Sketchfab

Using Free Photogrammetry Software also from Sketchfab

Over the next day or two I will be posting here some images and basic explanations from the process I used for working with scan data in Rhino. This is a process to enlarge sculpture maquettes and to help the artists to refine forms at full scale.


Some folks were wondering about size restrictions.

Here are some quick examples of how one can capture objects both small and large.

The ceramic vessel was decimated from a model of 7 million polygons, so very high detail in the original, generated from 88 photographs with masks.

The model of the topography was made with less than 10 photos, taken out the window of a commercial airliner at cruising altitude with an iPhone. Clearly this is not a high quality mesh, but then photographing from 30,000 feet on a hazy day, not with photogrammetry in mind, is not ideal planning.


Here is an example of how using scan data can create a lot of freedom in the process of an artist’s workflow.

Tom Otterness originally sculpted the figure with a spherical body encased in a block. This was one of several maquettes made for a public art project at Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, NY. This was scanned by Digital Atelier in Princeton, NJ.

Having this scan created a lot of possibility for the artist. The original sculpture maquette was enlarged in limestone, using the measurement data from the scan as the starting point, to almost 14 feet tall including the base. Later, when the artist had a show at the art gallery representing him, he could cast the original in bronze, and also was able to use the scan to modify the original and resculpt it in new forms and sizes, developing on the theme of the show.

The original sphere figure sculpture was molded and the artist modified a duplicate plaster, pairing it with a cone figure, both at the original 28 inch tall size, and then enlarged to 72 inches tall.

I made a rough, quick scan of the cone figure plaster at 28 inches tall. It was not necessary to do a very high resolution, detailed or precise scan because it would be rebuilt at a new size and Tom would change it according to the way the relationship between subject and object transforms with changes in scale.

The scan imported in Rhino and scaled up to the target output size, from 28 inches tall to 72 inches tall:

I analyzed the profiles of the sculpture in Rhino, and projected curves across the surface of the scan. I offset these to create a cage of profile planes around the form of the scan:

I extruded these and organized them into a hierarchy. I prepared and annotated the planes for output.

I printed these full size and the artist’s assistants built a cage of profiles with an interior armature. They packed water based clay onto the armature within the profile structure:

This process enabled Tom to resculpt the figures at the new size and to change the relationships of the parts and the details of the forms authentically and by hand, according to his artistic process and decisions:

A waste mold and plaster pattern were made for stabilizing and refining the forms. Here is the sculpture at full size in plaster, ready to be sent to the foundry:

The foundry created rubber molds, a gated wax for investment casting, and finally bronze. This was shipped back to the artist’s studio for the patina and waxing process:

Scanning the sculpture created freedom and opportunity in the process. The scan data became an asset for enlargement by hand building, reduction, quality control, and production in entirely new materials, including bronze, limestone and marble.


Any open source software recommendation for mac users?

Neeljain28, here is a guide to various options, some of which are free, and some of which can be used with macOS.

What’s the dimensional precision of the mesh vs real thing?

I’ve used VisualSFM. I like that it’s (not) locked onto someone’s webpage.

1 Like

Not open source but I continue to be impressed by Agisoft’s Metashape (formerly Photoscan). $179 for the standard edition. I’ve had a license for six years and the original license was good for the upgrade to the new version. https://www.agisoft.com/


these have Mac versions, have not used either one myself:


Thank you for your information and this "How to "
Great job, great technic ! I am curious to know how did you print and how big are the different parts ?
May I do it with my personal 3D printer ? I mean a print box 22x22x25 cm …

Thanks this is a great thread, we are trying to develop models from some subsea photography surveys and this is a great start


This is so great to see! I’ve been a Tom Otterness fan for years (Union Sq. station!). Glad you posted this.



Thanks! Here are two more resources that are quite useful as well.

Medium articles by Azad Balabanian from realities.io

1 Like

Thanks! I wanted to include this example now that I have it posted on Sketchfab. This is a model that Tom and I made together using scans of his 1:12 scale clay & plaster maquettes of the sculpted elements, like hands, feet, the cone figure’s arms, the heads (at full scale). We designed to them using Rhino for all design development and to prepare the drawings for the structural engineers who work on art projects at ARUP, Seattle. The annotations in the model talk about some of the process.

I’ve recently learned this sculpture is finally being installed in Tasmania even though casting has been complete now for a year or more.


Thanks for sharing such inspiring work. I’ve done some (much smaller scale) photogrammetric scanning for artists in the past too, for some ‘Human sized’ terratzo sculptures in Western Australia. I scanned some plaster makets from the artists, 3D printed larger review models and then the final objects were cast from CNC cut foam molds, ~20 times larger than the original models. Everything I used was either Rhino, or free software. It’s an amazing workflow.

Meshlab is great for surfacing the raw point data, and smoothing the result with various filters.

1 Like

I wanted to do something like this a year ago, but life intervenes when hosting workshops is not your main job. I’m happy to announce I’m finally doing a free workshop using photogrammetry scans in Rhino and ZBrush. Here are the details:

September 13, 2020
9 AM PST (UTC -7:00)

Creative Photogrammetry for Digital Artists and Designers

Learn how to capture a real-world object through a sequence of photos taken from your phone camera to produce a photogrammetry mesh scan. I introduce methods of combining and modifying the digital twin of your object and open up creative workflows. I will show examples from my process for using high resolution meshes in sculpture design for well-known international artists. We will also discuss #OpenAccess and #openGLAM initiatives and scanning legally from museum collections.

Hosted by Vertex School, you may join live and ask questions or view on demand after the workshop has completed.

The title on the Vertex Learn site is Photogrammetry in ZBrush in order to reach their own audience, but rest assured I’ll be demonstrating using both Rhino and ZBrush.

Bonus, there are a ton of other free workshops that you will have access to with your enrollment in this workshop. This is great for those of us who have discovered ZBrush as a great companion software to Rhino. They work together in a really lovely way and it’s easy to bounce back and forth between the two. Hopefully this workshop will also show the ZBrush community at Vertex School how they can open up their creative possibilities by pairing it with Rhino. I’m excited to see you there!

1 Like

Does it make sense to try photogrammetry on a very small detailed object, [with very small details]…? or is it better to save the time and effort and pay for a scan with a pro jewellery scanner? it’s about 30mm across with many details smaller than 0.5mm.
This is an unfinished little chased gold sculpture I started years ago before getting into Rhino,[made only with a hammer and chasing + burnishing tools] it has been sitting in the safe for a long time, and now I want to bring into a digital form in order to plan other parts and or changes.
I know enough how to do the part of fixing the mesh and re-detailing where needed [in ZB]… so the question is only about the the level of details I can hope to get with photogrammetry
got some 50 images done with an SLR camera and a macro lens in a 1/24 degree intervals taken by a clueless photographer [me]

thanks a lot

1 Like