Part 1 - How to bring your products into the 3D world

Prajwal Bhaskar
January 10, 2020

Part I: How to bring your products into the 3D world

This is Part I in a four-part series about getting your product from a 3D model to embedding it as an AR element on any platform.

Picture this —

A customer orders a table from your store online, you’ve got the best pictures up on the catalogue and make it look really nice in almost every setting.

Once it arrives, the customer realises that the legs are too short and the material isn’t what they expected at all because it doesn’t go with their curtains. Now they have to return it, and the seller isn’t willing to pay for the return shipping or worse, there isn’t a return policy.

Probably inside your head

Probably inside your head

You might have gone through this yourself or know someone who has, and if you’re a seller with a website, you’ve certainly faced angry customers. This is one of the inherent downsides of selling physical products on a site with 2D representations

At the base level, 2D representations of products don’t convey information in a way people make sense of the world around them.

2D plans work to explain a concept; however, they don’t function like 3D models.

When an object is represented in only two dimensions, every person forms his or her own idea of how the chair, building or product will look when complete. They see it in their mind’s eye, not on the screen. This leads to a disconnect between the creator and the customer, which comes with a lot of confusion, unmet expectations and general frustration.

With 3D technology becoming more accessible by the day and the added benefit of using 3D to show the object in the real world using Augmented Reality, there hasn’t been a better (or easier) time to bring products to life.

From our weekly Real vs AR poll. Guess which one’s real 🧐
From our weekly Real vs AR poll. Guess which one’s real 🧐

In this 4 part series, you’ll learn how to create a 3D model and bring it into the real world using AR by embedding it into your website or app.

Part I — Creating the 3D Model

There are a few ways you can start off creating a 3D model:

  • Photos to 3D — Use 2D images and model the object in dedicated applications.
  • Photogrammetry — Use 2D images and create a 3D model using photogrammetry software.
  • Use existing models — Grab an existing model and optimise it for Augmented Reality.

1. Modelling the object from photos

Modelling is the process of creating a 3D object from scratch using dedicated 3D software. Some of the popular applications used for this are Maxon Cinema4D, Autodesk Maya, Pixologic ZBrush and Blender.

To create the 3D model, you’ll need photos of your products from multiple angles:

From Shopify
From Shopify

Once these views are captured, the modeller can create an object using the dimensions provided and make a 3D object.

Of course, this method requires knowledge of 3D modelling and it’s concepts. You can hire 3D designers to create the object or learn to use one of the above-mentioned applications yourself.

2. Using Photogrammetry

Photogrammetry involves creating reliable physical information about an object via a collection of photos of the object.

Logistically, photogrammetry uses photos of the object from multiple angles (approximately 80–200). From there, dedicated software computes 3D and texture data from the compilation of photos, some of them are 3DZephyr, Agisoft MetaShape.

Photogrammetry with a smartphone camera
Photogrammetry with a smartphone camera

This can be time-consuming, depending on the number and size of your photos and the capacity of your computer. Additionally, photogrammetry can be done with an array of cameras arranged in a rig, or with a single phone camera to achieve a great result, as shown on the side.

While this method is faster than modelling, there are limitations. Not every real-world asset is a great candidate for photogrammetry — objects that reflect or filter light (like glass, metal, crystal or glossy plastic surfaces). However, the quality of photogrammetry for objects outside of these limitations is fantastic; with incredible textures, capturing great detail and depth.

A photogrammetry capture of a camera
A photogrammetry capture of a camera

Additionally, the geometry captured is perfectly reproduced, so the models are not at risk of being misrepresentations of the actual product.

This is especially important when using augmented reality to confirm that a product will fit into space.

3. Optimising existing models for AR

If you have existing CAD files of your products or any other form of BIM file formats, you can convert them into universally supported formats such as DAE, OBJ or gLTF and optimise the converted models to comply with web/device standards (more on this here) using software tools like Maya, 3DS Max.

CAD views (left) and final render (right) of a ring
CAD views (left) and final render (right) of a ring

This is slower and less expensive than photogrammetry, and also does not guarantee that the end result is workable with all devices or platforms. On the bright side, this doesn’t have the limitations that photogrammetry inherently has with regard to the material of the object. Thus, allowing adaptation and optimisation as the need arises

Here’s a nice little table for you
Here’s a nice little table for you

Next steps

Now that you know what goes into creating a 3D model of a product, you’re just a few steps away from enabling your users to view them in AR:

3D creation is not new, but most organisations are not set up to create/use 3D assets efficiently. For marketers, e-commerce and businesses, this means the barrier to entry for delivery of compelling 3D and AR experiences is rapidly decreasing, opening the door for increased engagement and consumer understanding.

Scapic’s platform provides an easy way to deliver this to all media such as websites, Facebook, Instagram as well as the ability to quickly and easily export assets to match the specifications of each distribution channel and online platform.

Don’t have 3d Models and want to showcase 3D on your site?

Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Contact us.

Have your own 3D models?

Learn how to get them ready for distribution across a multitude of devices & media — here.