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Photogrammetry in 3D Fashion Industry

The fashion industry has been quick at adopting 3D technology like photogrammetry. Take a look at the use of photogrammetry in the fashion industry.

A fashion model surrounded by photogrammetry technology and 2D captures of herself from all angles.
Photogrammetry is the capture of 2D photos from all the angles

In 2011, 3D artist Kev Stenning broke ground in fashion photogrammetry by scanning Guinness in her Gareth Pugh costume. By 2020, her scans were 3D printed as the 'first form model' in the fashion industry.

This is not a one-and-only case. Fashion has been quick at adopting 3D technology like photogrammetry in its design process. Being inherently creative and experimental, it is an industry ever-ready to absorb any innovation that materializes in technology.

Depiction of photogrammetry technology, with a chair surrounded by rigs and cameras to capture all angles.
The basic setup of Photogrammetry from various angles

The concept of Photogrammetry isn't new. However, in the early 21st century, its applications were limited to engineering, medical devices, construction, healthcare, and automobiles. With the technological advancements in 3D printing, 3D modeling, and photography, photogrammetry has opened the path to new and improved working in different sectors.

Before we dive into the applications of photogrammetry in fashion, let’s understand what exactly photogrammetry is.

What is Photogrammetry?

Although the word Photogrammetry is a lengthy-term, we break it into three parts to understand its basic meaning:

  1. 'Photo' means light
  2. 'Gram' means drawing
  3. 'Metry' means measurement.

So in simple terms, 3D Photogrammetry is the process of creating drawings or 3D models of objects using different measurements taken from photographs or recordings.

It is believed that the basic principle of Photogrammetry was known even to Leonardo da Vinci in the 1480s, yet there is little evidence as to whether he was able to make a working model for the same.

What is involved in Photogrammetry?

Multiple cameras are positioned at different points around the object to capture its surface from all angles. These pictures are stitched together and processed by a photogrammetry software, with the help of algorithms and mathematical calculations, to create a 3D model.

The primary principle involved is Triangulation. Triangulation involves using at least two scanning points for an object. The cameras are positioned at these points, and each has a line of sight that meets the object. The line of sight from both the cameras intersects at a particular point on the object, which is useful for mathematical calculations.

This is just for one minuscule point on an object! We need more cameras and even more orientations to trace the entire surface of the object.

Sophisticated setups are used for Photogrammetry, including rigs and flash systems in a controlled room. The rigs are fitted with numerous cameras focusing on the object from each angle. Experts say that the cameras used as photogrammetry scanners can be DSLRs with 50mm lenses and a 24 MP sensor. However, photogrammetry can also be achieved at the basic level with phone cameras!

Photogrammetry is applied in gaming, 3D movies, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality experiences, and product visualizations.

Applications of Photogrammetry

Here are just a few of the many sectors where Photogrammetry plays an important role:

  1. Construction
  2. Military
  3. Sports
  4. Forensics
  5. Fashion
  • Construction: The most common application has been civil surveying for engineering and construction projects. Terrestrial Photogrammetry is used in cases where the scanners' axes are parallel to the Earth and positions are fixed.
Depiction of terrestrial photogrammetry used in construction on an architecture piece
Triangulation in aerial photogrammetry of a landscape
  • Military: To gather landscape data for military purposes, aerial Photogrammetry is utilised. Scanners are positioned in planes or drones that are perpendicular to the ground, capturing images in a bird's-eye view.
Aerial view of a territory using Photogrammetry for military purposes
Aerial Photogrammetry of a landscape
  • Sports: Scanning sportspersons in action is useful for coaches and individuals in analysing their technique, form, and body movement. These inputs are beneficial for them in improving their game and providing training to others.
3D model of a gymnast made using Photogrammetry
Use of Photogrammetry in Sports helps Individuals
  • Forensics: Using photogrammetry, measurements and precise details of the objects in question or the crime scene are documented and preserved for conducting the research and presenting the evidence to the court.
Photogrammetry being used to figure out a road collision
Use of Photogrammetry in forensics

Photogrammetry in fashion

The pioneer in the field of Photogrammetry in Fashion has been Matthew Drinkwater, who brought 3D scanning into online retail. Drinkwater successfully created a 3D fashion model design from images taken of a model walking the catwalk.

This opens the doors for online retail owners to showcase their products in a more realistic and 3D form. The future of online apparel shopping is no longer limited to the generic 2D pictures that don’t display the product accurately. With Photogrammetry, shoppers can experience the products in a personalised manner.

  1. Body shape and size: With algorithms in place, 3D software can now define common body shapes and sizes across the population using geometric figures. This can help customers identify their body shape before making an online purchase.
  2. Fit: Comprehensive scanning of clothed figures can create 3D clothing models that focus on the product's fit on the body. It is useful in highlighting issues of cloth folding and wrinkling.
  3. 3D clothing design: Using pre-existing patterns from a database, new patterns can be altered to fit the individual based on the measurements captured from body scanners. Another similar approach is analysing the individual's measurements to create a mannequin model, over which different clothing patterns are applied for fit.
  4. 3D product visualisation: Using parametric approaches similar to clothing design, design stores can demonstrate new products over virtual mannequins or avatars, to their clients and customers, before manufacturing. This is achieved by wrapping the patterns over the avatars using modeling systems to visualise cloth draping. Photogrammetry has enabled wider adaptation of virtual try-ons in fashion retail, allowing customers to experience the product without so much as touching it in real life!

The Future of Photogrammetry in fashion

3D Photogrammetry makes it simpler for designers to create realistic and quality products. Extensive detailing of products regarding texture, fit, curvatures, etc., makes it easier for designers to express their invention.

Body scanning provides accurate information regarding body fit and size for shoppers. Incorporating these scanning systems into retail stores will be a dramatic step forward. Accurately knowing body shape, size, and fit will allow a better shopping experience in retail stores.

Even with online 3D models of clothes, shoppers will have the ability for virtual try-on, assimilated in the entire store's Augmented Reality.

In 2022, Justin Ridler took to Photogrammetry by Avatar Factory to get the model Astrid Holler’s 3D version on the covers of Vogue China. Using multi-camera photogrammetry, the team captured the Australian model, generated a 3D model out of her and then ‘modeled’ her in stunning virtual environments and clothing!

This is only the beginning. Thoroughly explored and initiated, Photogrammetry can bring new opportunities in the world of fashion.

Nishant Verma profile image Nishant Verma
Nishant is the VP of 3D design at Ikarus 3D and specializes in VR, AR, and all things 3D. He is passionate about pushing boundaries and fostering collaboration through information in the industry.