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Creating a 3D Zoetrope with 3D Scanning and 3D Printing

3D Zoetrope made with 3D-Scanning and 3D-Printing 03:46
We created a 3D-printed 3D zoetrope to show the blossoming process of a flower. A real lily was 3Dscanned at various stages of bloom. From these 3D scans, we created a 3D animation. From the 3D animation, we 3D printed 15 lilies and arranged them on a round plate. We illuminated the rotating plate with a strobe light to create the illusion of blossoming lilies.
Table of Contents

What is a Zoetrope?

The zoetrope is an old invention used for creating the illusion of moving pictures. This illusion of
motion is created by playing back several single frames in rapid succession. When the zoetrope
rotates, and you look through its slits—the illusion of motion is created. You might remember a
similar effect from school. On every page of a notepad, you painted a stick figure in a slightly
different position. When you quickly leafed through the notepad, you got the illusion of a moving
stick figure.

Old classic zoetrope
Andrew Dunn / Wikipedia CC BY-SA 2.0 A zoetrope replica from the Victorian age.

How does a 3D Zoetrope work?

The concept of creating a 3D zoetrope is simple. The 3D-printed objects (in this case, flowers) are
placed on a round plate. On the outer rim of the plate, lilies in different stages of bloom are
arranged. The lilies show a sequence, from closed to full bloom.

3D-printed lilies on a carousel for the 3D zoetrope effect
Swann Rack / Holocreators The 3D zoetrope with 3D-printed lilies on a turntable.

If we turn the plate and light it with a stroboscope, it looks like 15 lilies open and close

Swann Rack / Holocreators 3D-printed lilies turning on a carousel

Step 1: Deciding on the right object

The first step was deciding what kind of object we wanted to animate. We experimented with
different flowers—including roses and sunflowers—before we decided on a lily. The number of
petals was the deciding factor. The lily, with only six petals, is much easier to animate compared to
other flowers.

Pink lily taped to a bottle for photogrammetry 3D scan
Swann Rack / Holocreators This blossoming lily we selected for the 3D scan.

Step 2: 3D scan of the blossoming flowers

We put a closed lily on a table and waited for it to blossom. During the 20 hours it took for the lily to
blossom, we made a series of eight 3D scans using the photogrammetry 3D scanning technique.
These 3D scans formed the basis for the creation of the 3D animation.

Raw photogrammetry 3D scan of a lily
Swann Rack / Holocreators 3D scan of the lily created with photogrammetry.

Step 3: Creating the 3D animation

With 3D animation software, we reconstructed the flower’s opening and closing phases. In the end,
we had a 3D animation running in a loop to show the full process. From this animation, we exported
15 different 3D models. We 3D-printed these flower models and arranged them on a round plate.

3D animation of an opening lily
Swann Rack / Holocreators 3D animation of the opening and closing lily.

Step 4: At night on the playground with the carousel

After we mounted the lilies’ 3D prints on a plate, we needed a device to rotate them. At night on the
playground, we put the plate on a merry-go-round and lit it with a stroboscope. By synchronizing the
strobe light with the merry-go-round’s rotation speed, we created the illusion of opening and closing

Miro Rack standing next to a carousel
Swann Rack / Holocreators 3D Zoetrope is filmed on a playground carousel


The Carousel worked, and we created the illusion of opening and closing lilies. Next time we must
place the flowers more precisely on the round plate, producing an even more convincing illusion of

Do you need 3d scan for your project?

Holocreators offers professional 3D-scanning and reverse engineering services. This project was 3D
scanned with photogrammetry. However, we offer a full range of different 3D scanning techniques.
We would love to help you with your project. Feel free to get in touch with us. Just give us a call at +49 40 481133 or send us an email:

Swann has been enthusiastic about everything 3D for many years. His roots lie in analog holography, which brought him to digital 3D-modeling in 2011.

The rapid progress of various 3D-scanning techniques fascinated himso much thathe founded Holocreators together with his brother Miro Rack in 2015.

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