Jan 21, 2015 | By Simon

When it comes to 3D modeling, there are those who have been doing it for decades and those who have just been introduced to it thanks to a surge of interest in 3D printing.  Thankfully, there is no shortage of developers who are succeeding in making the 3D modeling experience easier for both beginners and pros alike.

However, one of the biggest challenges for developers has been to create software that is both cheap and accessible that can read information in a photograph and use that data to craft a 3D model that is capable of being 3D printing in full-color.

It appears that the developers at Smoothie 3D however, have pulled it off.

The Smoothie 3D app, which is 100% free and online-based, is an extremely easy-to-use modeler that utilizes existing data from a photograph that a user traces in order to separate what they want to create a 3D model out of from the rest of their background.  The intuitive approach feels more like tracing rather than the complicated commands commonly seen in 3D CAD programs.

To use the the software, a user simply uploads a photograph that they want to create a 3D model out of.  Once the user has the photograph in place, they simply trace individual elements of the photograph - such as the example below of a squirrel - and extrude the elements to the desired thickness.  Once the individual parts have been created, a user can simply rotate the model and fine-tune any other details including thinning features and smoothing them out to more closely-resemble the actual physical object as it exists in the real world.  The app is capable of intelligently knowing what to texture, which results in the colors from the photograph translating to the finished 3D model.

Once the model of the photograph has been completed, a user can either further modify the model using the built-in tools that range from extrude, revolve and text to symmetry management and subdivision surfacing to smooth out the model.  

Finally, a user is able to export the finished model to STL, OBJ or VRML formats that can be immediately 3D printed or uploaded to file sharing sites including Shapeways, Thingiverse and i.materialise.  Additionally, Smoothie 3D is capable of importing existing STL or OBJ files in the case that a user wants to manipulate an already-created model.

Although the app may not be capable of producing complicated 3D objects for product design or other more complicated applications, it is a perfect example of one of many apps that are helping to bridge the gap for first time users who are just starting their journey into the world of 3D printing.

You can try it for yourself over at Smoothie 3D.    



Posted in 3D Software

 

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