3D Scan the Body for Custom Clothing Fashion Pattern Making, Sculptures, 3D Printed Replicas, CAD Modeling, Portrait Busts & More



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for Making Custom Clothing, Fashion and Garment Patterns, Sculptures, CAD Modeling, 3D Printed Replicas, Portrait Busts, Avatars and More...

Getting exact dimensions from life into the CAD modeling environment using reality capture, photogrammetry and 3D scanning provides great benefit for digital modeling, sculpting, industrial design, and custom fashion and pattern making. Scanning from life provides unique challenges, I'll share my tips and best practices to 3D scan the entire body or a part of the body for any use. Also check out my other Instructable on How to 3D Scan Body Parts for Prosthetic or Any Use.

I most commonly use three dimensional scan data / reality capture CAD geometry of the body for making garments and wearables with a perfect custom fit. Other common uses are for Avatars, CAD modeling, artwork, fashion design, pattern making, fitness and training, prosthetic devices, portraiture, figurines, action figures, entertainment and medical applications.

Step 1: Equipment

In this Instructable, I'm using an Artec Eva 3D Scanner. If you do not have access to a 3D scanner, there are 3D scanning services that have the equipment, perform the scanning and give you files, or you may take pictures and compile them into a 3D CAD model with photogrammetry. Photogrammetry can be easy and provide great results, I highly recommend trying it, especially if you don't have a 3D scanner.


  • Body to Scan (in underware, tight fitting clothing or nude for most accurate fit)
  • 3D Scanner + Scanning Software I'm using Artec Eva + Artec 3D Studio Software.
    OR Camera + Photogrammetry Software I love ReMake & there is a free version.
  • Space with Good Lighting

Optional but Recommended:

  • Scanning buddy to help with 3D scanning OR tripod / rig to hold scanner
  • Weight bearing turntable to stand on
  • ReMake & Meshmixer to clean up scan data

Step 2:

There are many different kinds of scanners and many ways to set up to 3D scan.

There are scanners that scan up the body, with the person standing in the middle. I've used the 3D body scanner at Cornell developed by Human Solutions and by [TC]2 specifically designed to study the complex problems of clothing design and fit. This has been one of favorite styles of 3D scanner to use so far.

I've also loved using the setups of multiple cameras for photogrammetry style capture that capture 3D form data with great detail in a second.

There are all kinds of scanners and setups and I've even seen people set up motion capture devices on stands or tripods including turning a Kinect into a 3D scanner (google for latest instructions).

Step 3:

If you are doing this on your own, here is an idea for setting up a rig to hold your scanner and 3D scan yourself on a turntable.

Step 4: 3D Scanning to Body

Start with checking out this fantastic Pier 9 Guide: Artec 3D Scanners by Gabby Patin

and check out this video:

Step 5: Prep the Body

  • The scanning subject should wear tight fitting clothing, underware or be nude for scanning for a garment. (I wore a corset because that is the shape that I wanted to input into CAD).
  • A costume or outfit can be worn if scanning for an Avatar
  • Make sure the body is matte and dry (reflective surfaces including shiny, oiled bodies do not read as well). Dust the body with baby powder if necessary.
  • For hair detail, powder hair and beard with baby powder.
  • Some of the old scanners need reference markers - adhesive backed retro-reflective dots to create reference points. If your scanner requires this, you may want to try photogrammetry as an alternative. (The pics / scans in this step are from 2005)

Step 6: Scanning

  • The subject should take small steps in a circle or stand on a weight bearing turn table while the scanner scans or the scanner can slowly walk around the body. I've found it works better if the subject moves and the person scanning stays relatively still.
  • It helps if the subject is wearing clothing with a pattern or distinctive areas. Start with a selected point then scan the body from there, returning to that point. That pattern recognition helps the scanner to locate the data in space.
  • Scan all around the body part from multiple angles and scan a little beyond the part that you want to capture.
  • Go slow, take your time, and record multiple captures.

the above gify shows me taking small steps in a circle while my torso is being scanned in a corset.

Step 7:

This video shows Gabby Patin 3D scanning me while I'm on a turntable.


- 3D scanning for sculptures can be more interesting if the subject is in gestural pose.
- For Avatars, capture several different poses.
- When scanning for custom clothing, the best poses are straight with arms out or slightly away from the body like a dress form. Make sure that the hair is tied up off the neck.

Step 8: Process Your CAD

Once you have a capture that you are satisfied with, you may use the scanning software and export it into a program of your choice.

Usually the data is extra large and needs to be cleaned or reduced. I like to use ReMake, a reality capture program to clean and process your scan data into high definition 3d meshes or quads. I also like to use Meshmixer and then export from either program into Maya , 3DS Max or Mudbox (all have free trails).

Step 9: 3D Scans Into New Forms!

The most fun part of 3D scanning for me is when it comes back into the real world in another form.
I've made garments, prosthesis and artwork that all started with 3D scanning.

Step 10:

Here are pics of some garments that I made from the torso scan in a corset shown in this Instructable. The slenderizing appearance of the corset appears in the final design without actually cinching the body.

>To learn how I make these laser cut garments, check out my other Instructables.

Step 11:

These are pics of my buddy Riley wearing the 3D printed typing prosthesis I made for him. I'm now working on a device to help him hold his trumpet.

Step 12: Scanning for Safety

3D scanning the body has many benefits, including safety!

Before 3D scanning technology was available, I used to make body molds mostly from Alginate/Algiform and vermiculite or out of plaster. This was time consuming, messy and dangerous.... have you ever been under a plaster face mold?! its SCARY! Very hard to breathe, claustrophobic, and hot. Aliginate is not much better. I'm also remembering back to the 200lb+ body mold I made of weightlifter Justin Healy not even a decade ago and am so glad that we have other options now.

A very exciting project that was recently done was a 3D scan of President Obama. This was the first ever presidential portrait bust and life mask made from a 3D scan. You can learn more about it in this article and video below.

Shout out to my friends at the Smithsonian Adam Metallo and Vince Rossi, the 3D scanning masters who captured President Obama (pictured above with him)... great work guys!

Step 13: What Will You Make With Your 3D Scans From Life?

Post your ideas, project, tips & tricks below.

Happy Scanning!



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