Art & Design

3D Scanners as Helpers, not Replacements for 3D Artists and Designers

3D scanners are immensely helpful tools in the movie and design industry. These machines are able to capture images from a real object using rotating cameras (and sometimes lasers) to analyze the object’s surface structure, and recreate it in a virtual environment. 3D scanning has helped decrease the need to perform the tedious task of faithfully representing every nook and cranny of a subject.

Helping Designers Succeed – 3D Scanning Increasingly Important

However, 3D scanners have some important limitations that keep them from replacing modelers and designers. The most important of these limitation is their inability to accurately deal with complicated surfaces, especially those containing a mix of convex and concave features. Just as you might experience optical illusions, or confusion when trying to interpret a visual image without having previous experience and contextual knowledge of the thing you are viewing, 3D scanners are easily confused and unable to correctly interpret the interplay between light and shadow in a complicated object. This limitation is one of software. With smarter software containing more sophisticated heuristics based on real world data, 3D scanners will be able to more accurately process the images they intake. However, they will likely never be able to get it completely right.

Besides, a 3D scanner is an analyzer not a synthesizer. When creating new characters for use in a movie, an artist will still need to make decisions about a character’s characteristics. An artist can model new characters from scratch. Alternatively, to speed the design process along, they can use a 3D s#canner to extract features from existing people, animals, or even stuffed toys that they have lying around. They can then artistically combine these features using traditional 3D modeling techniques to create entirely new entities. Similarly, an engineer can create an industrial design for a brand new machine based on features scanned from existing machines.

In any case, artists and designers will continue to control the artistic and synthesizing processes involved in their creative fields. Cameras did not replace visual artists, but rather gave them a new tool for creating their art. The industrial revolution did not eliminate craftsmen, it just turned them into higher level machinists and designers. Today, 3D scanners are merely a tool for modelers and designers.

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