Introduction to Photogrammetry in 3D Modeling


Photogrammetry, the art and science of measuring objects using photography, utilizes multiple photographs of an object to derive its shape and dimensions. While its origins trace back to the 19th century for cartographic purposes, technological advancements have revolutionized the field.

In the digital age, photogrammetry has emerged as a crucial tool in 3D modeling. It aids developers in crafting detailed, realistic models based on actual measurements. Whether for reconstructing historical monuments, designing urban structures, or fabricating game assets, contemporary photogrammetry is reshaping the realms of visualization and design.

Basic Principles of Photogrammetry

At its core, photogrammetry employs geometric principles to convert two-dimensional photographic projections of an object into three-dimensional coordinates. This procedure mirrors human visual perception: our brains process two-dimensional images from each eye to perceive the world in three dimensions.

A cornerstone of photogrammetry is stereoscopy. By examining two or more images of an object from varying angles, one can discern the object’s geometric shape and spatial positioning. Modern software has streamlined this process, pinpointing shared points across images and computing the three-dimensional coordinates for each.

Key Concepts and Terminology:

  • Tie Points: Automated points across multiple images representing the same object feature.
  • Stereo Pair: Two overlapping images utilized for extracting 3D information.
  • Area of Interest (AOI): A specific region within an image or 3D model under examination.
  • Digital Elevation Model (DEM): A topographic model generated from photogrammetry data.
  • Ground Control Points (GCP): Pre-determined terrestrial points utilized to calibrate and enhance a 3D model’s accuracy.

Hardware and Software

Achieving superior 3D modeling necessitates selecting the appropriate tools. Both the object and task dictate the requisite hardware and software.

Types of Cameras and Their Characteristics:

  • DSLR and SLR Cameras: Ideal for in-depth scanning of stationary objects due to their high resolution and broad dynamic range.
  • Compact Cameras: Apt for rapid, mobile scanning. Although cost-effective and lightweight, they may offer inferior image quality.
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs): Facilitate aerial photography over expansive areas, especially when an elevated viewpoint is essential.
  • Specialised Cameras: Includes devices like infrared and multispectral cameras that capture data outside the visible spectrum.
  • Portable 3D Scanners from Artec: Suited for real-time 3D scanning of intricate objects or dynamic environments.

Popular 3D Modeling Software Overview:

  • Agisoft Metashape: Focused on 3D model generation from photos. Offers diverse processing and analytical tools.
  • Autodesk ReCap: A 3D modeling tool that integrates effortlessly with other Autodesk offerings.
  • RealityCapture: Delivers fast and top-quality 3D model creation by optimizing data processing.
  • Zephyr 3Dflow: A versatile solution providing 3D model creation, animation, interactive scenes, and more.
  • Artec Studio: Tailored for Artec 3D scanner data. While its primary function is 3D scanning, it can generate detailed 3D models.

Choice of hardware and software hinges on the specific task, budget, and desired accuracy. Distinct solutions might be more appropriate for different domains like art, archaeology, engineering, or entertainment.

The Process of Creating a 3D Model Using Photogrammetry

Creating a 3D model through photogrammetry involves a meticulous, multi-step process encompassing scene preparation, image capture, and data analysis to yield top-tier results.


  • Choosing the Right Scene: Select the object and location for capture. Remember, certain subjects might necessitate permits or authorizations.
  • Lighting Conditions: Ensure uniform sunlight illumination to prevent harsh shadows or overexposure.
  • Camera Settings: Maximize resolution while reducing noise. Utilize a tripod to negate blurriness.


  • Various Angles: Obtain multiple shots from different angles for accurate 3D model recreation.
  • Camera Calibration: Especially when using multiple cameras, calibration may be needed to pinpoint exact camera configurations.


  • Image Import: Introduce all images into the chosen photogrammetric software.
  • Image Alignment: Software aligns images to detect common points in the 3D spectrum.
  • Point Cloud Construction: The software constructs a point cloud from images to represent object space.
  • Triangulation: Points within the cloud are interconnected to form a polygonal mesh, defining object shape.
  • Texturing: Imagery-derived textures enrich the model, enhancing realism.
  • Optimisation: The model undergoes refinement, eradicating unnecessary components and refining surfaces.
  • 3D Model Export: Export the model in various formats for usage in 3D editors, animation, etc.

While this overview details the standard 3D model creation via photogrammetry, remember that customization might be needed, contingent upon survey conditions and object traits.

Advantages and Limitations of Photogrammetry in 3D Modelling

Despite its prowess, photogrammetry isn’t a cure-all in 3D modeling. It has its merits and demerits.


  • Precise results
  • Accessibility
  • Diverse applications
  • Visual documentation


  • Software and hardware prerequisites
  • Surveying challenges
  • Data processing demands

Comparison with Other 3D Modelling Techniques:

  • Laser Scanning: Photogrammetry often demands lesser preparation and survey time. However, laser scanning may surpass photogrammetry in accuracy under specific conditions.
  • Stereoscopic Photography: Involving dual cameras, this technique can be less precise and more equipment-heavy than photogrammetry.


  • Accuracy: Depends on image quality, environmental conditions, and camera calibration.
  • Data Handling: Large datasets can pose processing and storage challenges.
  • Motion Sensitivity: Photogrammetry can falter if objects move during capture.

Yet, considering its few limitations, photogrammetry stands as a dominant force in 3D modeling, boasting applications across diverse sectors.

Applications of Photogrammetry Across Industries

Photogrammetry’s versatility has entrenched it as an invaluable asset in multiple professional arenas.

Archaeology and Cultural Heritage

It’s pivotal for studying archaeological treasures and safeguarding cultural legacy, facilitating the development of detailed 3D renditions of artifacts, historic edifices, and landmarks.

GIS and Cartography

Photogrammetry propels the creation of accurate geospatial information. Coupled with aerial photography, it crafts intricate maps used in urban development, landscape alteration monitoring, and climatic studies.

Gaming and Entertainment

The gaming sphere has been revolutionized by photogrammetry, aiding in the formation of immersive, realistic virtual realms.

Urban Planning and Architecture

Urbanists and architects leverage photogrammetry for crafting precise 3D urban and building models, pivotal for urbanization strategies and architectural innovation.

Moreover, photogrammetry finds relevance in architectural visualization, medical implantology, agriculture, and sectors like shipbuilding and aviation.

The Future of Photogrammetry in 3D Modelling

Photogrammetry, with its historic roots as a tool for documenting the tangible world, has evolved immensely with technological advancements. Its trajectory, marked by increased accuracy and refinement, prompts us to speculate on its future trajectory.

Technological Innovations and Upcoming Developments:

  • Improved Algorithms: Modern computational algorithms are increasingly sophisticated, promising quicker 3D model creation with enhanced accuracy.
  • Integration with Artificial Intelligence: AI can automate numerous processes, from object identification and error rectification to texture optimization.
  • Advancements in Drones and UAVs: As drones become both more sophisticated and accessible, their marriage with photogrammetry will enable detailed mapping and 3D modeling across vast expanses.
  • Virtual and Augmented Reality: The rise of VR and AR technologies means a likely surge in demand for photogrammetric models to construct immersive virtual environments and simulations.

Evolving Applications of Photogrammetry with Technological Progress:

  • Accessibility: Photogrammetry’s reach will expand, thanks to affordable drones, mobile applications, and cloud data platforms.
  • Multi-sensor Integration: Future applications may merge data from diverse sources like lidar, infrared sensors, and cameras to craft richer 3D models.
  • Real-time Processing: Immediate data processing could transform photogrammetry’s role in augmented reality, surveying, and urban design.
  • Deep Learning and Cloud Technology: Harnessing sophisticated machine learning with cloud infrastructure could expedite and refine data processing, broadening the potential applications of photogrammetry.

Overall, photogrammetry’s future in 3D modeling appears bright, with technological innovations poised to catalyze its applicability across sectors.


With the march of technology and the introduction of novel tools, photogrammetry is asserting itself as a pivotal 3D modeling technique, spanning sectors from archaeology to gaming. This technique, which transforms 2D images into intricate 3D models, holds immense value, especially for precision-intensive applications.

This article delves into the expansive world of photogrammetry, elucidating its foundational principles, cutting-edge tools, and evolutionary trajectory. By highlighting both current and emergent trends, we gain insight into its transformative potential across industries.

To encapsulate, while photogrammetry has ancient roots, it’s soaring to new heights due to contemporary technological innovations. Its ever-growing significance in 3D modeling cements its place in today’s digital landscape.