Turn photos into 3D models using your iPhone

Free app 123D Catch comes to the iPhone, making photogrammetry modelling quick and easy. Check out these cool videos showing what designers have created with it!

Our Verdict

With the iOS release, 123D Catch really brings 3D scanning to the masses. It’s never been easier or cheaper to create 3D models from photographs, offering exciting new possibilities for designers and 3D artists.

For

  • Very simple to use
  • If photographed with care the resulting scans are a very good quality
  • Easily share captures via email
  • Free!

Against

  • Limited editing capability on the iPhone app
  • Needs the desktop version to export 3D files to other formats

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Words: Paul Roberts (opens in new tab)

If a project calls for a 3D model but you haven’t got time to learn a complicated 3D app, your phone might just provide the solution. Formerly only available to PC or iPad owners, last week Autodesk made 123D Catch (opens in new tab) available for iPhone 4 and 4S, putting advanced photogrammetry modelling in the hands of millions of designers.

WATCH THIS! Autodesk 123D Catch - how it works:

The process is simple: take a series of photos of an object, automatically upload them to Autodesk’s servers, and they send back a textured 3D model.

This simplicity belies some incredibly clever algorithms. 123D Catch stitches your photos, works out the position of the cameras in 3D space, extracts a mesh and projects the textures back onto it. And it all takes place in the cloud.

The resulting mesh can be navigated directly from the app, exported to popular 3D formats, or shared as a still image.

123D Catch has already inspired a user generated gallimaufry of scanned pets, toys, and other household detritus, but designers and artists are finding innovative uses for it in their workflows.

Early-adopters IV Motion (opens in new tab) with Graetz Media (opens in new tab) used what was then called Project Photofly in a music video for Australian band Hunz. 110 different models of the singer were generated to create a strikingly uncanny and original video that would have been extremely costly using traditional techniques.

WATCH THIS! Hunz video created using 123D Catch:

More recently RewindFX (opens in new tab) used 123D catch to create digital doubles for WWI short film Canis Belli (opens in new tab). Needing a number of dead bodies for no man’s land but short of extras, RewindFX used 123D Catch to capture the same actor in different positions to populate the scene. A fascinating solution to a common problem.

WATCH THIS! Short film Canis Belli created with 123D Catch:

It seems we are living in a golden age of easy 3D capture. LIDAR is plummeting in price, programs like ReconstructMe (opens in new tab) and KScan3D (opens in new tab) turn Microsoft’s Kinect into a 3D scanner, and now photogrammetry is freely available with 123D Catch.

  • Paul Roberts is one of a handful of editors at Max Underground (opens in new tab), a site dedicated to CG news and reviews.
  • Don't forget to check out 20 best iPhone apps for designers

Key info

Price: Free
Universal: No
Version: 1.0.2
App size: 39.0MB
Developer: Autodesk (opens in new tab)
Age rating: 4+

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The Verdict
9

out of 10

123D Catch

With the iOS release, 123D Catch really brings 3D scanning to the masses. It’s never been easier or cheaper to create 3D models from photographs, offering exciting new possibilities for designers and 3D artists.

Topics

The Creative Bloq team is made up of a group of design fans, and has changed and evolved since Creative Bloq began back in 2012. The current website team consists of six full-time members of staff: Editor Kerrie Hughes, Deputy Editor Rosie Hilder, Deals Editor Beren Neale, Senior News Editor Daniel Piper, Digital Arts and Design Editor Ian Dean, and Staff Writer Amelia Bamsey, as well as a roster of freelancers from around the world. The 3D World and ImagineFX magazine teams also pitch in, ensuring that content from 3D World and ImagineFX is represented on Creative Bloq.