Creating 3D models using Photogrammetry – an open source and free software guide

Photogrammetry  is the task of digitally reconstructing 3D structures from a set of input images taken from different vantage points of an object or a building. It is used extensively in digitising artefacts of cultural heritage significance.

Using a high resolution camera for photogrammetry [credit]
The camera used can be a commodity camera. You do not have to buy a 5000$ Canon camera for photogrammetry. Per instance, the camera of my phone gave me very good results when I digitised a chair in my office 🙂 Of course the better the resolution of the camera you use, the better the quality you get.

I will be using in this tutorial a set of photos that I did not take myself (I will show you from where you can download them later).

This article will explain two digitisation pipelines found in the literature and on the web (blogs, online courses…). These are employed by digital heritage practitioners who specialise in digitisation technologies. This article will start exploring and explaining two digitisation procedures or as it is dubbed in the domain of digital heritage and computer graphics  two common “digitisation pipelines“.

  1. Digitisation Pipeline 1: Good resolution photos from all vantage points -> Meshroom [Easier]
  2. Digitisation Pipeline 2: Good resolution photos from all vantage points -> VisualFSM -> Meshlab [more difficult]

I will also survey and show how you can digitise an artefact into a 3D model using native applications of mobile devices, in particular the most famous on Android, we have Scann3D and in the iOS eco-system, we have Trnio.

I will keep adding to this article when times allows so kindly be patient and keep checking the article for any additional material. Lately, unfortunately I am having less time to blogging!

This article will contain also recommendations of when to use photogrammetry and when not to use photogrammetry (example using 3D scanning). I will also talk a bit about hardware and accessories if you want to do the task more professionally and invest more money.

Instead of me taking the photos of an object, I will be using some photos from other projects. The photos we will be using are taken from the 3DF Zephyr reconstruction showcase (although these folks have a commercial product), we will using their freely available photos to produce 3D models using free open source software explained in this article.

You will be using the Dante’s Statue photos, please go and download the full dataset which will download all the high resolutions photos taken from many angles of this statue.

As usual, this article like all my articles, if you have been following my blog, is a work in progress: meaning it will be updated continuously. So please check always back for any new material. I will keep updating this article whenever time allows…


Meshroom is photogrammetric Computer Vision framework for 3D Reconstruction.



[1] Bartoa, Karol, Katarana Pukanska, and Janka Sabova. “Overview of available open-source photogrammetric software, its use and analysis.” International journal for innovation education and research 2.4 (2014): 62-70.