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Flowers, leaves, stems and thin branches

Our clients sometimes ask us to advise the techniques, that will allow to capture a separate flower or even such a complicated object as a whole plant with thin stems (for example, for research purposes).

Here is a 3D mesh of the orchid, captured with Artec Space Spider: 

This particular article summarizes some tips & tricks, that will help you to 3D scan flowers, stems, leves and branches in particular. As an additional reading, feel free to check this article, which also contains several efficient techniques for capturing the thin objects with little or no geometry.


Benefits of using a proper background


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

Later on, you will use this background once again for "geometry and texture" mode in global registration.

A regular text, printed on a white paper, as shown on the photo above, will work just fine.


Capturing the general dimensions of leaves and stems

If the 3D scanning project requires capturing some general dimensions of a leaf or stem, then the same trick with placing a scanned thin object on a background with texture features, works perfectly: use it for global registration and then erase before making fusion.

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




Scanning thin branches and stems with leaves


Main challenges:

  • The difficult geometry, especially if you scan a plant with several leaves and stems from the top
  • It is hard to keep the proper distance to the object to see the different surfaces

Possible solutions:

  • To insert some extra background with texture behind the branches
  • To scan the branches from the underside: you should start at the bottom, looking up on the underside of the leaves, and start raising the scanner, periodically adjusting its angle of view to get at the parts of the stem in between the leaves. Assuming that the stem is not obstructed, you should be able to get at least one side of it. This is especially useful, if you need the dimensions of the stem itself. The approximate scanning path is shown on the picture below:



Scanning a bunch of flowers


Main challenges:

  • Many hidden areas
  • Very thin features in terms of 3D geometry
  • Near transparent structures
  • Movements and/or changing shape due to even a slight air flow

Possible solutions:

  • Consider scanning just one plant from a brunch at a time
  • Make sure, that you either capture some background together with the plant or introduce some additional objects into the scene, so that the scanner can keep track of the plant's surface
  • As long as there are no gusts of wind to move the leaves, these leaves can be your "anchors" by providing you with enough 3D surface for tracking, meaning that you can scan around them with ease
  • If you don't need super-high resolution, it may be possible to use fewer resolution settings for the Fusion, or even Smooth fusion (which we generally don't recommend to use with Artec Spider at all) to compensate possible misalignment on the 3D model due to the movement
  • Another approach would be to scan a flower section by section and use non-rigid alignment to get a good looking model
  • Finally, a combination of Eva and Spider may also be of use here: Eva can provide overall shape and Spider can add details, where it matters, to be aligned with Eva scans


Additionally: an interesting project with flowers 3D-scanning & 3D-printing


One of our clients has once shared an amazing project, made together with our Gold Partner DataDesign and FabCafe Tokyo. This project involved flowers 3D-scanning to
create contemporary Ikebana, which combines natural and artificial. More information and photos are available here:



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.