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How to 3D-scan people or animals?

How to 3D Scan People and Animals? 08:00
With the help of specialized 3D scanners, you can 3D-scan people and animals. This allows you to create 3D models that can be 3D-printed or used for 3D animation. We’ll show you three different devices that make such 3D scans possible.
Table of Contents

It was very important to us that all devices presented here can capture color as well as geometry. These 3D scanners are available:

  1. 3D body scanner
  2. Handheld 3D scanner
  3. Mobile phone camera or DSLR camera
Photogrammetry 3D body scanner from Botspot
Botspot Botspot’s 3D body scanner

3D Scanning People and Animals with a 3D Body Scanner

The 3D body scanner is the most common and fastest technology to create a 3D model of a person or pet. These are professional devices used mainly in 3D-figure studios. The person to be scanned stands in the middle of the 3D body scanner. This is a circular cabin in which 60 to 120 cameras are mounted. All these cameras are focused on the person that stands needs to be 3D-scanned and trigger simultaneously. The person is photographed from many different perspectives. All these photos are processed into a 3D model using photogrammetry software.

The Advantages of the 3D Body Scanner

One of the biggest advantages of the 3D body scanner is its speed. Especially when taking pictures of children or animals, the problem is that it’s very difficult to keep them still—which is very important.
Because the body scanner creates the image in a split second, this type of 3D scanner is often the only way to capture children and animals.

The Disadvantages of the 3D Body Scanner

Due to their size, 3D body scanners are stationary. They are also expensive, costing over 40,000 Euros. A good body scanner, consisting of about 64 DSLR cameras, costs upwards of 100,000 Euros.
So, you always have to go to the studio for the 3D scan.

Handheld 3D scanners from Artec
Artec Artec’s Handheld 3D scanner

3D Scanning People and Animals with a Handheld 3D Scanner

A handheld 3D scanner works differently than a 3D body scanner. With a handheld 3D scanner, the object must remain still for about five minutes. The 3D scanner operator slowly walks around the object, and 3D scans it from different angles. The 3D hand scanner can only capture a very small section (approx. 20cm) at a time. Therefore, it takes much more time to 3D scan large objects.

Advantages of the 3D Hand Scanner

The advantages of the hand scanner can be summed up with two words: mobility and cost. Unlike the 3D body scanner, you can take the 3D hand scanner wherever you need to. There are also fewer size restrictions. A body scanner is limited to the interior of the 3D scan cabin for a maximum scan volume. With the handheld 3D scanner, you can scan objects up to the size of a car. A hand scanner is also much cheaper than a body scanner and costs about 15,000 Euros.

Disadvantages of the 3D Handheld Scanner

The biggest disadvantage of the handheld scanner is the time needed for 3D scanning. While the 3D scanner operator walks around the subject, the subject must remain completely still; otherwise, the 3D scanner software cannot create a clean 3D model. You can imagine how difficult this is when working with an animal or a small child.
We at Holocreators once tried to 3D scan a horse. While one person tried to keep the horse calm with the bridle, the 3D scanner operator slowly moved the hand scanner around the horse.
Unfortunately, the horse’s head kept following the hand scanner thinking it was food. This ruined the 3D scan because, for a successful 3D scan, the object must remain completely still.

iPhone 8 Plus lying on a wooden table with its camera facing up
Swann Rack / Holocreators iPhone with mobile phone camera

3D Scanning People and Animals with a Mobile Phone Camera or DSLR Camera

We have written a detailed blog post on this topic. Just search for the “Free 3D scanning tutorial” from Holocreators. It is a complete tutorial on how to create a 3D scan with a cell phone or a DSLR camera using free software. Basically, you move the camera around the person you want to 3D scan and take a lot of pictures from different perspectives. The person must stand absolutely still.
Afterward, you can use free software to calculate a 3D model from all those pictures.
Holocreators has created a FREE 3D Scanning Tutorial showing you how to create a 3D scan with a cell phone or a DSLR camera using free software. Basically, you move the camera around the person you want to 3D scan and take many pictures from different perspectives. The person must stand absolutely still. Afterward, you can use free software to calculate a 3D model from all those pictures.

Advantages of 3D Scanning with a Camera

The biggest advantage is that it is free. You only need a camera and some free software to scan people and animals.

Disadvantages of 3D scanning with a camera

The disadvantage is the low quality of the 3D scan. Also, it’s nearly impossible to have an animal or person stay completely still during the 3D scan. Therefore, artifacts are created in the 3D scan, which must be repaired or retouched afterward.

Do you need a professional 3D scan of a person or your pet?

Holocreators offers professional 3D-scanning and reverse engineering services. We would be happy to create a 3D scan for you using a body scanner or handheld 3D scanner and offer you the data processing afterward. Give us a call at +49 40 481133 or send 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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