Creating 3D Character From Photo?

It just dawned on me that I might be able to create 3D characters from 2D photos. Hoping you will add your thoughts on this.

As I imagine it so far, I would import the photo in to SketchUp, extrude it by push pull or other technique, then round and smooth edges etc. I am a very amateur modeler so all advice will likely be educational for me.

2D photo to an animated 3D character?

What say you?

So the goal of this thread is to take this 2D image (a png file with transparent background)…

… and turn it in to a 3D model in SketchUp.

If that works, we can then take the 3D model in to Mixamo and animate it. I’ve chosen an image in the T-pose as that’s what works best in Mixamo.

I can see that perhaps the Match Photo feature is appropriate here, and I kind of get how to use that for a 2D image of a 3D structure. But I’m not sure if Match Photo is the right tool for this image, and if so, no idea how to make it work.

As you can see, I really have no idea what I’m doing so far so anything you can share will be educational here. Thanks!

You could trace that image and push/pull to give it some thickness. But, it won’t help much. Mixamo and other tools are expecting there to be a bones rig in the model.

@colin - hey, thanks for your input.

Should I abandon the Match Photo feature? Not the right tool for this job?

If yes, then you’re suggesting that I should draw a line around the character with the freehand tool, and then push pull the face, right?

Can you point me in the direction of how I could then round the edges between front and sides? And/or any other modeling refinements which would make it look more like a real 3D model, and not just an extruded 2D image?

Mixamo will rig characters without bones, as I understand it. Whether it will rig a character made in this manner is unknown. Mixamo has you put control points on wrists, elbows, knees etc, so it seems it should work, but won’t be surprised if it doesn’t.

This is surely an experimental procedure and may very well not work. But if it can be made to work it opens interesting possibilities. Like this…

  1. Find any image of a character in the t-pose, such as above.

  2. Add any real world face on to the character in an image editor.

  3. Make character 3D in SketchUp, and add to scenes.

  4. Optimally, animate in Mixamo

So, you know, if you really need Donald Trump to dance the hokey pokey in your beach house model, because after all, who doesn’t want that…

I’ll keep experimenting and report back if I can accomplish anything useful.

Match Photo is primary meant to aid modelling boxy things like buildings, using photos that have a clear set of cues pointing towards two vanishing points perpendicular to each other. So it is not much use in modelling organic forms. Better just import the image.

Here is a rushed attempt, where I used SubD to make the roundingness. SubD is a $40 extension, but does have a 30 day trial.

girl.skp (3.2 MB)

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Ok, I get it now, thanks for saving me from going down that trail.

Thanks Colin, that gives me some idea of the problems that will be involved.

I was going to take your model straight in to Mixamo to see if it will rig before going any further, but I can’t open your file as I’m on Make. If you know of a SKP to FBX converter, I could try that.

I’ve tried tracing over the image myself, but that layers a white plane on top of the image, obscuring the image. Something very basic I’m not getting here most likely. However, what I did learn from that test is that tracing over the image with the freehand tool likely isn’t going to be precise enough to be workable, at least not without a lot of careful attention.

So now I’m wondering if there is a way to easily select just the image, assuming a PNG file with transparent background. I found this thread. Not sure about the easy part.

I notice DAZ has a feature where you can add a face photo on to a 3D model. Not sure how well it works, and it’s apparently Windows only. And DAZ is, well, not all that much fun in general.

It might be a selling point for SketchUp if users could create models of themselves to include in their scenes, but maybe SketchUp isn’t really the right tool for such operations? If so, I’m cool with that. Just trying to be creative and experimental and so on…

Hey, that’s great Box, very neato! Make some more for us.

You could bring Coyote in to a SketchUp scene using a 3D capable video editor like Hitfilm if you wished to. Like this…

I’ve not tested how forgiving Mixamo can be for models that aren’t in the T-pose. If you learn anything in your experiments please let us know.

I was able to extrude the character and upload it to Mixamo. Mixamo tried to rig it but was unable to do so. So I’m guessing this is crackpot idea that’s more trouble than it’s worth.

The best alternative I’ve seen so far is to import a regular image of a character and set it to always face the camera. This allows us to put anybody we want in our scenes, and to the degree the camera is moving there is some sense of character animation.

Or, layer a real 3D character, animated or not, on top of a SketchUp scene in a 3D capable video editor.

Unless someone more experienced than myself has a better idea, I guess I’ll let this idea go and move on.