Creating a 3D scan is a simple and fast process, and can be done with only a mobile phone. 

I'm using Polycam (available for iOS, Android, and web) in this guide, but there are many 3D scanning apps available for mobile devices that you can select from. 

Polycam offers a Photo Mode for creating detailed 3D models using a set of photos, ideal for small objects with fine features. 

Create Photo Set

Your 3D model is only going to be as good as the pictures used to create it. Keep these bullet points in mind:

  • Clean, even lighting
  • Matte surface on model
  • Steady hands (or tripod) for the phone
  • Turntable for steady movement

Photo Mode


Polycam offers a Photo Mode for creating detailed 3D models using a set of photos, ideal for small objects with fine features.

I took 123 photos of this gnome riding a frog, but anywhere from 50-150 photos should be sufficient for most models.

Process 3D Scan

Once you've captured all sides of the model, upload the photos in Polycam for processing.

If you're using a turntable or moving the model during the scan, make sure you've selected Object Masking so Polycam can isolate the 3D model.

At this point, it's a good idea to take a look at your model and go through the following checklist:

  • Are there any holes in the model? 
  • Did any shiny or reflective spots not show up? 
  • Does the model look complete? 

If the answer to any of these questions is NO, consider trying another scan. Issues with the model can be much harder to fix after it has been exported. 

Export 3D Model

Polycam can export both .obj as well as .stl files. The .obj file includes the color texture as well as the mesh, which you don't need if you're only going to be editing the mesh. 

Export the model as an .stl file from Polycam, which can be used by most CAD and mesh editing programs.

This guide was first published on Aug 02, 2022. It was last updated on Jul 28, 2022.

This page (Creating a 3D Scan) was last updated on Jul 28, 2022.

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