Photogrammetry and Zbrush residential training course

3 nights: March 29th to March 31st 2019

(Further dates in April in SE England, May in NE England and June in Scotland will be announced in the near future.)

This is an intensive course, in a relaxed, comfortable AirBnB home for a maximum of 6 people. Location to be confirmed, but somewhere in the West Midlands/Mid Wales. Two and a half 12 hour days — a tightly packed long weekend! (You need not stay overnight.)

You will be digitising objects into clean meshes with orderly UVs. This course is directed at, but not exclusively for:

  • 3d printers who want to offer a part replication service.
  • Archaeologists and museum curators who need to copy, analyse exhibits.
  • Designers, architects, modellers, gamers. Anyone who wants to digitise an object, perfectly, accurately, painlessly.
  • Body scanners: living, breathing objects need multi camera setups to capture a split second moment – without micro-movements. This is the same technique but with static objects using a single camera.
  • This training course is not about drones and environment mapping; volumetrics nor ground control points.  Although all of what you learn here will useful.

The trainer?

Me! Steve Hooker. I’ve been wrestling with photogrammetry for five years, starting with, now crude, SfM using Python. I’ve used Agisoft Photoscan and currently love Reality Capture, for so many reasons.

I’ve scanned faces, toadstools, tree trunks, long grassy banks, all for my photography work. Culminating in this website and the whole of Stonehenge.

You’ll benefit from my experience of photographing objects — well (and badly) aligning the images, adding control points, merging components, building meshes, adding textures, using coded markers. And the associated and essential clean up in Zbrush. As well, my experiences and knowledge in 3d printing, both resin and FDM


Arrive at 4 pm on the Friday. Two hours settling-in, setting up and an introductory photo scanning lesson. 

We’ll start photographing your object Friday evening 6 pm to process overnight in Reality Capture on your machine.

Realign and touch up Saturday morning, texture and export of model Saturday afternoon. Clean up in Zbrush, reimport into RC and retexture Saturday evening and back out into Zbrush for final clean up into a clean mesh with orderly UV maps.

Sunday we’ll do it again, 9 am till 10 pm.

Monday leave by 10 am. 

Costs and requirements

  • Course fee: £800. £400 non-returnable deposit secures a seat. £400 one week before. I’m not yet VAT registered.

The course fee is all-inclusive, we’ll order takeaways for main evening meals — to suit your palate. Tea and coffee making facilities will be available. I’ll stock up on a range of fruit and snacks, breakfast cereals, breads and sandwich materials. Standard AirBnB facilities with WiFi internet. Smokers outside, please.

You will need a machine with these two pieces of software already installed, you’ll buy your own before you arrive or already have them.

Minimum requirements: 16Gb RAM, 2Gb of free hard disk space and a decent nVidia video card with CUDA 2.0 and 1 GB VRAM. In short a modest gaming laptop. Or a workstation, with monitor, keyboard, mouse and/or drawing pad will be acceptable, too. Make sure either can get online with WiFi.

  • Your favourite camera

Bring the one you’re comfortable with — this is not a camera course. Be it an old, battered digital compact with 15 Mpix. A powerful SLR with interchangeable lenses is overkill, but if you know it inside out, it’s great. A 15 Mpix camera will merely need to take more photos, closer. For very small objects, a macro facility will be essential.

  • An object to scan

Bring something that you envision you’ll be scanning regularly.  It’s the technique we’re concentrating on. If you’re going to be scanning houses, ancient artefacts or monuments, bring something similar. But, briefcase-sized or smaller.

Not shiny, not glassy, not your granny’s diamond tiara. Anything reflective is fraught with problems. There are photographic dulling sprays, and polarizer filters, but this isn’t the place nor time to open this topic. Something with a well-mixed texture, not one colour, not uniformly surfaced. Certainly not all matte black.

If you’re into body scanning, bring an Action Man or Barbie, make sure they’re clothed, all that smooth, skin coloured plastic will raise unnecessary issues. If you’ll be replicating car parts, bring one, the grubbier the better. If you’re into macro photography of insects, bring one, make sure it’s dead 😉 Architects, perhaps a doll’s house or we could work on the outside of the house (weather permitting). Cavers we could scan an internal room of the house. Game modellers, a painted model rather than a homogeneously coloured figure.

Note: I once scanned a person wearing a Hawaiian shirt, thinking the brash pattern would be perfect. However, the pattern repeated front, back, collar and pocket and the model was similarly mixed up. Only by adding coded targets and reshooting could the correct shirt shape be reassembled.

Background knowledge

You should have some idea of the terminologies and techniques. We will be diving straight into the deep end.


Photoshop will be useful for those needing very highly accurate UVs or creative artistic flourishes.

Keyshot (and Keyshot Bridge) would be useful for those requiring photographic quality renderings.

Aims and methodology

Whilst there is a wealth of knowledge and help scattered across the internet, this training course will give you hands-on guided experience to rapidly master the challenges of modern Structure-from-Motion. And the effective clean up of scans.

You’ll be working separately at your own speed in the communal areas. But, we’ll huddle when someone encounters a problem as we work to a solution. In this way, you will gain a greater understanding borne of over-the-shoulder experience. If you wish to work privately, in your own bedroom, that’s OK, too. (If you don’t want to stay overnight, you want to drive back home, that’s cool, too.)

We will be aiming to create nice, clean models with nice, clean UVs. The first principle is garbage in, garbage out. I will show you how to take good scanning photographs. With good input, your output is a breeze.

But, it never works out that way. And if you cannot go back and reshoot, I’ll show you ways to fix bad input.

One month follow-up support

Condensed, packed and comprehensive the course may be, but you may forget a part, there may be outliers, awkward problems not covered by the course. 

I’ll run a closed Facebook group for one month following the course, where I can answer your problems, as well, telephone support for those urgent issues, mental blocks and brain freezes. Then, I’ll offer support in an open, public Facebook group.