Experimenting with 3D scanning in nature

Added on February 2, 2015

During some unseasonably warm weather recently I took several trips out to a great local forest and attempted doing some 3D scanning of various mushrooms, stumps and interesting natural phenomena found on my hikes. My first results exceeded my expectations so I kept returning to the forest and venturing further and along different paths, finding new and awesome things each time!


For each of these scans I simply used my low-end smartphone (Galaxy Victory) to take between 40-70 photos of each subject, walking around it and photographing it from all angles, then generated a textured 3D mesh from these photos using Autodesk’s 123D Catch. I prefer to use the desktop version of 123D Catch for greater control and editing capabilities, but they also have a free iOS and Android version you may want to try out.


All 3D scans are free to download and remix, so have fun! If you do remix these or use them in some way please just add a link to my site and hit me up on any social media network – I’d love to see what you do!

Future application

I’m imagining these scans as three-dimensional visual “samples” to be remixed, manipulated, modulated and mashed up with other models and processes to create forms that are both analog and digital, yet somehow (hopefully) transcendent of both.

CAFor example, I’m currently a bit obsessed with cellular automata, reaction-diffusion and Laplacian growth systems and how they can be used to simulate organic natural patterns like those found in lichen, coral and crystalline structures. I’d love to find a way to use these growth patterns to augment these natural 3D scans in unusual ways, either by distorting them or by combining them.

Ultimately I’d like to 3D print these meshes (augmented or not) on a full-color 3D printer I’ve seen at a local FabLab. Lots to look forward to!