BumpyPhoto: print yourself in 3D

12 Oct 2012

Yesterday, I experienced one of the most terrifying moments of my pitiful life. I came out of a meeting, to be greeted by a gaggle of giggling colleagues and this:

I’m sorry you had to see that. I’m sorry I had to see that.

You may be wondering how the team managed to catch me by surprise with a 3D model of myself. After all, to accurately capture the rugged contours of my face and the muscles rippling beneath that white shirt, you’d assume I sat modelling for hours in a studio, right? In fact, no.

My crafty colleagues had managed to get the 3D model made by doing nothing more sophisticated than sending the high-res JPG of my column portrait (below) to the folks at www.bumpyphoto.com.

How, you may wonder, does the website manage to capture 3D data from a distinctly 2D image? Well, according to the site: “Our highly-skilled designers assisted by sophisticated software will model a 3D depthmap from your 2D flat photo. This is what gives the BumpyPhoto its shape and lifelike appearance.”

I’m not sure how “sophisticated” that software is, or how much is left to down to the judgement/guesswork of the designer, but the 3D model is scarily accurate. Yes, my nose really is that big. Although I do have more than one ear in real life.

BumpyPhoto uses a 3D printer to generate the models, which are made out of a slightly rough “hard plaster-like composite”, using “full 24-bit colour”. Certainly the five o’clock shadow and gentle creases in my shirt are accurately recreated.

And they don’t only print models of middle-aged magazine editors. They’ll print photos of kids, pets, cars and, perhaps a little predictably, women in bikinis, if the sample models on the website are anything to go by. They’ll even produce cut-out models.

And how much does it cost? Just shy of £50. I’ll start the bidding for Little Barry at £100.

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