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Flowers, leaves, stems and thin branches

Our customers occasionally ask us to suggest techniques for capturing an individual flower or even a complex object such as an entire plant with thin stems (e.g., for research purposes).

Here is a 3D mesh of an orchid captured using Artec Space Spider: 

This article provides tips and tricks to help you 3D scan flowers, stems, leaves and branches in particular. For additional information, take a look at this article, which also describes efficient techniques for capturing thin objects with little or no geometry.


Benefits of using a proper background


Whether you’re 3D scanning a single flower or a whole branch with leaves, a proper background with texture will greatly help tracking.

Later, you’ll reuse this background for Geometry + Texture mode in global registration.

Regular text, printed on white paper like that in the photo above, will works just fine.


Capturing general dimensions of leaves and stems

If your 3D-scanning project requires you to capture the general dimensions of a leaf or stem, the same trick works perfectly: place the thin object on a background with texture features. Use this background for global registration, then erase it before fusion.

Hint: Hint: Use Sharp fusion with a proper resolution, based on your Max error / Quality value, to get the most detailed 3D mesh.




Scanning thin branches and stems with leaves


Main challenges:

  • Handling the difficult geometry, especially if you start from the top when scanning a plant with several leaves and stems
  • Keeping the proper distance from the object to see the different surfaces

Possible solutions:

  • Insert extra background with texture behind the branches
  • Scan the branches from the underside: start at the bottom, looking up at the underside of the leaves, then start raising the scanner, periodically adjusting its angle to capture the parts of the stem between the leaves. Assuming the stem is unobstructed, you should be able to scan at least one side of it. This approach is especially useful if you need the stem dimensions. The picture below shows the approximate scanning path:



Scanning a flower bunch


Main challenges:

  • Numerous hidden areas
  • Very thin features in terms of 3D geometry
  • Nearly transparent structures
  • Disturbance of position and/or shape change due to even slight air movement

Possible solutions:

  • Consider scanning just one flower at a time rather than the entire bunch
  • Make sure you either capture some background together with the plant or introduce some additional objects into the scene so the scanner can keep track of the plant’s surface
  • As long as no air movement disturbs the leaves, use them as your “anchors” to provide enough 3D surface for tracking, meaning you can scan around them with ease
  • If you don’t need super-high resolution, try using lower resolution settings for Fusion, or even Smooth fusion (which we generally don’t recommend for use with Artec Spider), to compensate for possible misalignment in the 3D model due to object movement
  • Scan a flower section by section and use non-rigid alignment to get a model with a good appearance
  • Employ a combination of Eva and Spider: Eva can provide the overall shape and Spider can add details where it matters for alignment with Eva-based scans


3D scanning and 3D printing flowers


Our Gold Partner DataDesign shared an amazing collaborative project it undertook with FabCafe Tokyo. The project involved 3D scanning flowers to create contemporary Ikebana, which combines natural and artificial floral decor. Visit these links for more information and photos:



We are here to help! If you have any questions or issues, please do not hesitate to contact our team by emailing or by clicking on "Ask Support" button on the upper part of the screen. We will always be happy to assist you and will get back to you as soon as we can.

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