Free Photo Scanning Workflow! (VisualSFM and Meshlab)


    Discover a free photo scanning workflow for VisualSFM, Meshlab and Blender. After watching this tutorial you’ll be ready to generate the jaw-dropping 3D models from photos, for $0. That said, you still need a camera.

    The Project Files

    Download the Project Files

    Software for Free Photo Scanning


    VisualSFM is a free GUI application for photo scanning.


    “This software (CMVS) takes the output of a structure-from-motion (SfM) software as input, then decomposes the input images into a set of image clusters of manageable size.” I couldn’t describe it better than that. Image clusters. Decompose. That’s so nerdy. It turns me on.


    MeshLab is the open source software for editing of unstructured 3D meshes.


    Blender is the free and open source 3D creation suite. Great for visualizing the 3D scans, you bet!

    3d scan tutorial

    7 Photogrammetry Rules

    1. Set the manual exposure mode

    2. Use a tripod. Avoid shaky hands

    3. Get enough light (open curtains, etc)

    4. Ambient light is cool. Hard shadows may cause you much pain

    5. No transparent and super reflective stuff

    6. Use a long-duration shutter speed if not enough light

    7. Photograph from all possible angles

    “What camera do you have?”. We shoot with Canon 600D, but you can get away with a cheaper camera. Or even a smartphone.

    Other Useful Links


    Easy to use online image resizer.



    A cool way to embed your 3D models in webpages.

    You May Like These Photo Scanning Tutorials

    Chances are, you won’t be satisfied with the quality of the free 3D scanning. Or maybe you’d like to have a more intuitive user interface.

    Then try the paid software. Agisoft Photoscan for example. It’s gorgeous.

    Over to You

    I can’t wait to see what you will photoscan using this workflow. Your cat? Anything else?

    And feel free to share this tutorial by clicking on the share buttons above. Let’s popularize this free photo scanning tutorial. Really, I’d wish the view numbers on Youtube to skyrocket. Help me out with this, please 🙂

    photo scanning tutorial

    Thanks a bunch.