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How to Use AR Technology and Photography to Create a 3D Model

Augmented reality (AR) is revolutionizing various industries, offering immersive experiences that blend the digital and physical worlds. A critical component of AR is the use of 3D models, which can be created using photography through a process called photogrammetry.

This article will guide you through the steps to create a 3D product model for AR using photography, leveraging the power of photogrammetry to bring your products to life.

Understanding AR Technology

Augmented reality superimposes digital content onto the real world, enhancing the user’s perception and interaction with their environment. Unlike virtual reality (VR), which immerses users in a completely digital world, AR integrates digital elements into the real world.

This technology is increasingly used in retail, education, entertainment, and more, making it essential to understand how to create accurate and detailed 3D models for these applications.

Importance of 3D Models in AR

3D models are the backbone of AR experiences. They provide the detailed, realistic representations necessary for users to interact with digital content seamlessly. For example, in retail, 3D models allow customers to visualize products in their own spaces before purchasing.

In education, they enable interactive learning experiences. Creating high-quality 3D models using photography ensures that these AR applications are both engaging and accurate.

Tools and Equipment Needed for AR Photogrammetry

To create 3D models using photogrammetry, you’ll need specific tools and equipment:

  • Cameras: DSLRs and mirrorless cameras offer high resolution and detail, but modern smartphones can also produce excellent results.
  • Tripod: Ensures stability and consistency in your photos.
  • Lighting: Proper lighting is crucial for capturing clear, detailed images. Soft, diffused light helps reduce shadows and reflections.
  • Turntable (optional): Helps capture all angles of the object without moving the camera.
  • Photogrammetry Software: Agisoft Metashape, RealityCapture, and Autodesk ReCap are popular choices that convert photos into 3D models.
Taking photos with a DSLR camera

Step-by-Step Guide to Creating 3D Models for AR Using Photography

1. Preparation

Select the object you want to model. Ensure it is clean and well-lit. Set up your photography environment with consistent lighting and a plain background to minimize distractions and shadows.

2. Capturing Photos

  • Position the Object: Place the object on a turntable or stable surface.
  • Set Up the Camera: Use a tripod to keep the camera steady. Ensure the object fills the frame and is in focus.
  • Take Photos: Capture the object from multiple angles, ensuring overlap between photos. Typically, 30-50 photos are needed for small objects, while larger objects may require more.
  • Avoid Common Issues: Check for reflections, shadows, and consistent exposure in all photos.

3. Processing Photos with Photogrammetry Software

  • Import Photos: Load the photos into your chosen photogrammetry software.
  • Align Photos: The software will align the photos and create a sparse point cloud representing the object’s shape.
  • Generate Mesh: Convert the point cloud into a detailed mesh.
  • Apply Textures: Use the photos to texture the mesh, adding realistic details to your 3D model.

4. Refining the 3D Model

  • Clean Up: Remove any artifacts or errors from the model.
  • Enhance Details: Add fine details to improve the model’s accuracy.
  • Export the Model: Save the model in a format compatible with AR platforms (e.g., OBJ, FBX, GLTF).

Integrating 3D Models into AR Applications

Overview of AR Development Platforms

  • ARKit (iOS): Apple’s AR development platform.
  • ARCore (Android): Google’s AR development platform.
  • WebAR: Browser-based AR that doesn’t require an app.

Preparing 3D Models for Integration

  • Optimize Models: Reduce the file size while maintaining detail to ensure smooth performance in AR applications.
  • File Formats: Use compatible file formats such as OBJ, FBX, or GLTF.

Basic Steps to Integrate 3D Models into AR Applications

  • Import the 3D model into the AR development environment.
  • Position and scale the model as needed.
  • Add interactivity and animations if required.
  • Test the AR experience to ensure it functions smoothly on target devices.
Example of a 3D model


Retail: A furniture company uses photogrammetry to create 3D models of its products. Customers use an AR app to visualize how the furniture fits in their homes, increasing purchase confidence and reducing returns.

Education: A museum creates 3D models of artifacts, allowing virtual visitors to explore exhibits in AR, providing interactive learning experiences and reaching a broader audience.

Common Challenges and Solutions

Challenge: Inconsistent lighting causing poor-quality photos.
Solution: Use diffused lighting and control environmental light sources to ensure consistency.

Challenge: Reflections and shadows disrupting the photogrammetry process.
Solution: Adjust lighting and use polarizing filters to minimize reflections and shadows.

Future Trends in AR and Photogrammetry

Advancements in AR and photogrammetry continue to evolve, with improvements in AI-driven image processing and more accessible tools for creators. These technologies will enhance the accuracy and realism of 3D models, making AR experiences even more immersive and widespread.


Creating 3D product models for AR using photography is a powerful way to enhance digital experiences. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can produce high-quality 3D models that bring your AR projects to life. Start experimenting with AR technology and photogrammetry today, and share your creations with the community to gather feedback and improve your skills.

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