Introduction: How to 3D Scan With Skanect

Picture of How to 3D Scan With Skanect

3d Scanning at the Museum of Art and Design with Shapeways using a Microsoft Kinect and Skanect software.

Step 1: Setup

Picture of Setup

What you will need:

preferably a desktop as files are large

-Skanect software

-Microsoft Kinect
This device reads color with its camera and reads depth with the infrared sensor.

Lighting is very important in order to get an even colored scan

-spinning platform (optional)
This allows the subject to rotate making scanning much easier
Ours is courtesy of THE GREAT FREDINI's design
For instructions on how to build your own:

Step 2: Software Settings

Picture of Software Settings

Open Skanect / Go to NEW / Make sure your settings match those in the picture

(for a child you may want to make the bounding box a bit smaller)


Step 3: Workspace

Picture of Workspace

A screen will come up showing the bounding box in the middle.  The infrared and video images are on the right.

Step 4: Lovely Assistant

Picture of Lovely Assistant

Have your lovely assistant step onto the platform.  Be careful!  It spins!  Make sure the lighting is consistent on your subject.

Step 5: Record

Picture of Record

Hold your Kinect up level with the subject's waist a few steps feet back from the platform.  Press RECORD.  The Kinect will begin recorded the depth (red) and the color (green).

Step 6: Spin Around

Picture of Spin Around

Once you have done one full sweep of your subject head to toe, press the pedal to make the platform spin.  As your subject is in motion slowly move the Kinect in an up and down motion making sure to get the top of the head all the way to the bottom of the platform as they rotate.  

If you do not have a rotating platform have no fear.  You can walk around your model or use any manual spinning base of your choice.

Step 7: Lining It Up

Picture of Lining It Up

As you are scanning be sure that you are getting a high frame rate around 18-24 frames. If you get below 18 you have to move your Kinect faster. You can monitor this by looking at the white numbers at the bottom of the screen.  These numbers can also aid as a way of keeping your subject in alignment.  If you keep the numbers in the center of your subject as you scan head to toe you can be sure your scan will be straight.

Step 8: Cleaning Up Your Scan

Picture of Cleaning Up Your Scan

Once your subject has done a full rotation press the RECORD button in the top left corner again to stop the scan. Now that you have a full body scan you have to do some post processing to get it ready to print.  First is making it watertight.  Go to the WATERTIGHT option.  Choose smoothing LOW and press RUN.

Now your scan will have color.  But it may not be straight or have a flat base.  Now we have to use the MOVE & CROP tools. Use the SLIDE BARS to adjust the X, Y, and Z axis of your scan to make it flat and straight.  Make sure your base is parallel with the X Y plane as cropping will cut off anything below it to make a flat base. Type in the name of your file in the TEXT BOX. Press CROP TO GROUND. 

Step 9: Exporting Model

Picture of Exporting Model

To export it to your computer go to SHARE and the export menu will open with a LOCAL option.  Under LOCAL go to EXPORT MODEL and use the setting seen in the picture to export for printing.  It is important to chooseVRML as the file type.  This file type reads both shape and color.  Click EXPORT and you are done!  Now you can use that file to upload to a 3D printer of your choice.

Step 10: 3D Printed Selfie

Picture of 3D Printed Selfie

If you wish to 3D print this model I suggest using SHAPEWAYS.COM and uploading it to be printed in FULL COLOR SANDSTONE.


Ships to your door in a few weeks! 



azelinskie (author)2014-04-15

Hey guys thanks for all the love! If you like this post please vote!

ihart (author)2014-04-14

Great project! I'd like to try it.

Instead of building that turntable from Makezine that you reference, you could use a cheap ~$7.00 "Lazy Susan" bracket and 2 small square pieces of plywood. Here's an ebay link to the bracket:

rebekah20 (author)2016-12-12

Hi. This looks excellent and is exactly what I need to do for my major project at uni. I've followed the first steps here - I've installed Skanect and I've connected the Kinect but nothing is happening - it's as if my laptop isn't picking the Kinect up. Can anyone help me please? Thanks so much!!

adc103 (author)rebekah202016-12-14

Make sure you've installed MS Kinect SDK 1.8 if your using v1 kinect and if your using the new version then get the MS Kinect SDK 2.0. Just search them on google and you'll see the one from the microsoft website. Good luck!

MageE1 (author)2016-01-28

Is there any way I could scan a room or even a small house (inside) with this and if not can you please help me find out how?

CraigU2 (author)2016-01-14

I'm not getting good resolution on the face AND my models are super tiny. When I import them into my printer software I have to enlarge them like 150%. Any ideas on what I'm missing here? Thanks.

mahdialias (author)2015-11-14

Hello, is there a way easier to scan three-dimensional, for example, with smartphone thanks

Rob_283 (author)2014-04-14

Awesome instructable, but I'm missing the "how to connect your kinect with your pc" part...

JColling (author)Rob_2832015-10-19

USB - plug it in! :D

azharbass (author)Rob_2832014-05-03

Hey there. You can take a look at this article to find out how. Alternatively if that is confusing you can see how (with pictograms) you would connect it to the original Xbox 360. This is how you would connect it to a PC (imagine that the console was your PC) :)

mywaffles11 (author)2015-09-15

that is cool. what 3D printer did u use? I have a printrbot simple.

ldabague (author)2015-08-18

Hello there, thanks for sharing. Just a question, did you use the paid version of skanect?

MarcinJ2 (author)2015-05-12

Hi. Is anything changed with kinect 2.0 ? Can it be used in your project to make 3d scans now? Are the scans better, sharper, more accurate from kinect 2.0 than kinect1.0? Is a sense to pay extra to kinect 2.0? Thank You very much.

MarcinJ2 (author)2015-05-12

Hi. Is anything changed with kinect 2.0 now ? Can it be used in your project to make 3d scans? Are the scans better, sharper, more accurate from kinect 2.0 than kinect1.0? Is a sense to pay extra to kinect 2.0? Thank You very much.

DannyS5 (author)2015-03-18

Hey, to anyone whom has successfully been able to simulate this or the author herself, I have an important questions before I proceed to get/buy all the items required.

Will this setup allow for accurate 3D scanning for dimensioning/measurement purposes?

I kindly await for a reply :).


- Devo.

AAndy (author)2015-03-14

I'm really glad I read this thru (unusual in my case) before I started. I was al ready to purchase an XBox ONE instead of the 360 on ebay. Heck, the 360's are cheap.
So, if I manage ot get one with a power adapter, it still won't work with the software, etc, correct?
off to ebay land...THANKS for a GREAT Instructable.

mountain-star-hawk (author)2015-02-03

can you share the specs of the computer you used? CPU, graphics card, ram? thanks. this is brilliant.

Gonzai© (author)2014-07-07

Amazing work...My question can i use Kinect For Xbox instead of kinect for windows ??

dcalzado (author)2014-06-03

It is so cool. I just don´t know what kind of motor I need. May someone advice me one?

Matt428 (author)dcalzado2014-06-21

any kind of commercial vacuum or electric drill will work. make sure the drill is cordless. you can even use a drill battery to power it. if you find a corded drill you can always use that with the wall cord and a gear on the drill and a gear on the platform.

Hal-9K (author)2014-06-11

That's a neat design. We have done something similar with an arc and pulley system that takes the scanner up and around too. Yours seems much more compact and I'm sure easier to maneuver.

I think what impresses me the most about it is the drive system.

Squidyman (author)2014-05-15

How did you add color to your model?

This is a very nice tutorial. I voted for it!

main tank (author)2014-05-03

it's very coooooool!!1

foobear (author)2014-04-11

How does the Kinect attach to your computer? Do you need a special cable?

azharbass (author)foobear2014-04-13

When you buy the Kinect accessory on its own it has a cable-splice thing that has a usb plug but if you got a Kinect that came as a bundle with the console then you won't be able too use it without an adapter cable.

rhinogates (author)azharbass2014-05-02

Is there a way to do this with xbox one kinect?

azharbass (author)rhinogates2014-05-03

Not yet. Since XBO ships with the sensor, and the console will not work without it, currently there's no way for it work right now. You'll have to wait for the SDK/PC version to be released, hopefully before the end of this year ( check out this article from last year). Also since the connector on the Kinect 2.0 is different, it is not possible the get the AC adapter mentioned below to try to use it to connect to your PC.

simon_le_robot (author)foobear2014-04-13

foobear (author)simon_le_robot2014-04-14

cool. My kinect came as a bundle, if I recall. It has a USB looking connector, that is orange colored. I guess I assumed it was some proprietary connector and not standard USB.

simon_le_robot (author)foobear2014-04-14

this orange connector in an usb with a need of 12 volts. 12 volts can''t be provided by usb, this is why you need this adapter

azharbass (author)simon_le_robot2014-05-03

It is partly true, but not only does the sensor need the 12v from the power brick/console but it also receives 5v from the "usb" connection.

foobear (author)simon_le_robot2014-04-14

ah, I get it, thank you for the link and info

azelinskie (author)foobear2014-04-11

The Kinect has a USB cable

azharbass (author)azelinskie2014-05-03

Yours does because you already have the AC adapter power brick/connection splice whereas foobear doesn't have it.

Neidio (author)azelinskie2014-04-13

Xbox One kinect Not -.-

azharbass (author)foobear2014-05-03
I guess I assumed it was some proprietary connector and not standard USB.

On both the X360 and XBO the orange connector is a proprietary form of a usb. Trust me, you cannot just plug this in to any old usb port. The only difference between the X360 and XBO is that there is an extra row of connections that supports Kinect 2.0 myriad of new functions. The AC adapter that simon_le_robot has provided a link for is what you need to get ( since you got your kinect in a bundle) in order to do this 'ible. I am a Xbox Community Ambassador and I have to know all these thing when people need help and support.

Verga (author)2014-05-01

voted for you.

Very clear and sheer genius.

tofugami (author)2014-04-27

Awesome job! Favorited and voted. Good luck!

tofugami (author)2014-04-27

Awesome job! Favorited and voted. Good luck!

dbbyres (author)2014-04-27

How do you get the scale right? When I upload the model to it's huge! I don't see where in Skanect software to re-size the model? thanks,

dbbyres (author)dbbyres2014-04-27

nm...think I found it...if you upload the model to within Skanect, you get a dialog that specifies what % scaling you want (e.g. 5%). I don't see this option when export the file and uploading outside the tool.

zhaymoor (author)2014-04-21

yaaay !! two cool things ! 3D scanner and a geeky girl *_*

stephenfitton (author)2014-04-15

In the beginning there was Star Wars, Now there is Kinetic.I have been talking about this for 15 years and now its here.Thank you. Now to Infinity and Beyond

akashani (author)2014-04-15

Regarding the Skanect there is a free license as well as a non-free one. For doing this project, which one should I get !?

dainasaur (author)2014-04-14

since I live less than an hour from NYC can I just go to MAD and like... make one there? or do the scan and pay to have one made? (since it's got the instructions and everything for you to do it yourself, it looks like...) just please don't tell me the exhibit is gone already IF you could actually go and do that there :/
i don't have an xbox. i'm not buying an xbox, JUST to scan a 3d model of myself. i don't play video games (unless it's n64). maybe one of my friends will like the idea...

azelinskie (author)dainasaur2014-04-15

You can go there and get a scan for free but the exhibition ends this sunday

dainasaur (author)azelinskie2014-04-15

THANK YOU! looks like i'm going to MAD this week :)

harshamuroor (author)2014-04-14

What do you use for printing the models?

azelinskie (author)harshamuroor2014-04-15

cepi85 (author)2014-04-15

great result!

About This Instructable




Bio: This work is not for us. It is for the future. And robots. That is, each of these pieces takes for granted that computers will ... More »
More by azelinskie:Tutorials for New IncQuick Start Guide: Makerbot DigitizerQuick Start Guide: Shapeways
Add instructable to: