Swantje Dogunke
One step on the way to a 3-D scan.

Digital 3-D modelling can be useful for presenting the results of projects funded by the MWW Research Association. A digital rendering of Goethe’s library, for example, can reveal his classification of knowledge, or a virtual exhibition of all the Goethe busts can provide a direct and more accurate comparison between them.

To test possible uses of digitalisation in future, we selected a sculpture in the inner courtyard of the Weimar City Castle.

The following is a brief overview of the steps involved:

Step 1: Taking photos

We photograph the figure from each side at various angles. About 60 photos are sufficient. Hint: Pay attention to uniform lighting when taking photos outdoors. Cloudy days provide most ideal conditions.  


Research intern Kemal Baran (on ladder) and Alexander Mortimore photograph the statue from various perspectives.


Step 2: Choosing the right software

We searched for photogrammetry software based on price, usability, data exporting options and a presentable degree of quality in the final result. There are certainly freeware alternatives out there, but we didn’t consider them because of their licensing and copyright guidelines. We found a comparative list of software at: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_photogrammetry_software

Step 3: Creating the model

a) First the program creates a “point cloud”, with which it determines all of the camera positions. Based on this calculation, it creates a more accurate a “dense cloud”.

b) Based on the data of these two calculations, the program creates a 3-D model comprised of thousands of triangles.

c) The surface texture of the model is then created with the help of the photos.


Hint: Acrobat Reader can display a 3-D model which you can also navigate. Here you can download the file. If anyone would like more information about 3-D modelling, please contact me.



The finished 3-D scan.

Swantje Dogunke is a research associate in the project Digital Research Infrastructure and is working on the construction of virtual research environments.