3D Printing a full color bobblehead of yourself

Picture of 3D Printing a full color bobblehead of yourself
In this Instructable, I will show you how to create your own 3D printed bobblehead. Very much like the one you see aboveI made of myself. I just attached it to the body of SF Giant Hunter Pence's bobblehead (you can see his head ripped off in the background).

First we use 123D Catch to capture a nice model of whoever we want to create a bobblehead of.

Then we use Meshmixer to clean up the capture and cut out a cylindrical cavity I made with 123D Design for the spring to attach to the inside bottom of the head. We'll only 3D print the head part and reuse an existing body.

Each of these apps can be found for free at
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Step 1: Create a 3D model of your head using 123D Catch

Picture of Create a 3D model of your head using 123D Catch
123D Catch is free and can be found here: It is available on iPhone/iPad on the AppStore and as a PC version and web app too. The benefit of using the desktop PC version is that you can make some manual stitching to improve results.

Creating a 3D model with 123D Catch can be easy. Basically you shoot a sequence of overlapping photographs as you move around the person. For example, I'll shoot 20 photos or so in small increments in a full 360 degree loop to ensure I get full coverage. I may shoot some additional top-down angles to get the top of the head.

It can take some practice/redos, to capture a good model of a person's head. Sometimes I have to reshoot them a second or third time.
The biggest challenge is having the subject remain perfectly still.
Here are some tips for capturing a live person's head:

Things to tell your subject when shooting photos:
• Sit down (to eliminate balance movement).
• Close jaw to avoid subtle face movements.
• Comfortably focus eyes on a distant point.
• Blink between shots.
• Channel their inner mannequin

Things you can do:
•Shoot sharp, well framed photographs, oh but quickly!
•Put pieces of masking tape around the chest, shoulders, neck, and back of head. (These features help 123D Catch reconstruct the model)
•Frame your subject from just below the chest and up. The more context the better the model will come out.
•If you see your model move their face, even slightly, just start over and tell them the above points.

Some other things to be aware of:
Photo Coverage: Catch must be able to “see” everything that you want to create a Capture of. Make sure you take enough photographs. Don’t have too much space in between shots. When shooting a person I try balance this and shoot the least amount of photos to eliminate the chance of them moving. Typically 20-25 in a loop framing their chest upwards, making sure to get under their chin. Then, 5-10 from top-down angle to get the top of the head.
Blurry Photos: Blurry photos will confuse 123D Catch
Lighting: Poorly lit scenes will cause problems for 123D Catch, as well as irregular lighting (like strong back-lighting).

Good Job, Gabe! Yours came out great!

I am teaching a 3D design class. We have our own 3D printer and 3D scanner. I would love for the kids to make bobbleheads but am looking for a file or instructions on how to create the body of the bobblehead. Thanks!!!!

drstys61 year ago
nice, Im going to have to try that sometime
skaar1 year ago
i've thought about how i could do the photography faster, perhaps possibly with only a few shots... quick release tripod, for precision and some full length mirrors. subject steps in, snap the camera in, shoot and move. it'd reduce the number of shots needed by... i dunno, 2/3rd.
if enough money can be found, multiple cheap cameras could be mounted, get all the shots at once, with 1/3rd the cameras that would otherwise be needed. for a head, maybe have smaller mirrors and shoot from slightly above, to get a mirror directly in front of the subject and a good shot of the chin and nostrils.
I think what you are suggesting was used in the matrix movies (where they do a 360 degree pan around Neo when he is in "bullet time")
also the grammys i think, getting a 360 of the guests, year or two ago, can't remember. but in the matrix and the grammys, there was a ring of cameras. doing it with mirrors would take fewer cameras by far. maybe even only two if they're set at the right vertical angle... buying 3-4 hd webcams for it would work quite well.
Chakazuluu1 year ago
I went to AutoDesk to sign up and it asked for an AutoDesk ID. I couldn't find a reference to it. Were do I get one...
cpramuk (author)  Chakazuluu1 year ago
You can easily create an account at
Horef1 year ago
holy crap this made me feel so bad i don't own a 3d printer! incredible!!
AWESOME! Well written with step by step detail.
Can't wait to try this with my soccer player.
I'm hopeful that some reader might be able to comment on where to get "bodies" for various sports (baseball, soccer, basketball, etc.) for more speedy creation. I'm sure that other special occasions would benefit as well such as graduation, weddings, etc.
I'm also wondering how hard it might be to add a hook to the top as a Christmas tree ornament or holiday gift. Well done. You've got my creative energy going!
jas3po1 year ago
Great stuff, but the ingenious thing is that you have inadvertantly found what a person would look like in 20-30 years (probably only with your current setup, another setup, another result) That is not a computer calculation of you, that is you in 20-30 years. As for the bobble heads, it would be great if there was a pool of scans of people in sports, movies etc to pull from.
husamwadi1 year ago
DUDE THATS AWESOME! seems legit hahah.

I had no idea there was 3d printing in color!
kanuogou1 year ago
very good
poofrabbit1 year ago
This is great!