These fabulous 3D fungi models were created by freelance artist and designer Thomas Flynn. Here, Tom describes how he became interested in 3D photography, and his inspiration creating 3D fungi models!
Last year I did some work for the British Museum, 3D scanning some historical objects so that they could be viewed and shared online (https://sketchfab.com/britishmuseum) - I think it’s much more fun to share 3D object in 3D as opposed to simple photographs and think it can give people a better understanding of those objects, too.
Since then, making 3D scans has become a bit of a hobby (https://sketchfab.com/nebulousflynn) and while I began making scans of stone statues and things, I realised you could scan all sorts of things and share them with people across the world. A 3D scan of a living object - like an acorn or a plant - is a pretty neat snapshot of something organic and I love the idea of someone on the other side of the world (who may never see or hold a real British acorn or plant) having a chance to at least examine and learn about one in 3D on their computer or phone, getting to know it’s shape and colour.
I started scanning fungi in particular as they are often such interesting 3D shapes and come in all kinds of colours and varieties. Also, a lot of fungi are only around for a short time at certain seasons of the year, so a 3D scan feels like capturing something transient too - I hope these scans get people noticing fungi near them and maybe even help with identification too!
The 3D models of fungi are made using a process called photogrammetry - “the science of making measurements from photographs" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photogrammetry). By using special sofware, it is possible to calculate a point (or several points) in 3D space from two or more photos of an object taken from different angles - a bit like how your two eyes (each providing a slightly different viewpoint) help you figure out depth perception in everyday life.
To make these models, I took ~150 photos of each mushroom - you have to take so many images as, if certain viewpoints are missing, the software is unable to calculate that point in 3D space. Once a large number of points have been calculated in 3D space (called a “point cloud”), you can join the points up to make a "mesh" or “wireframe”. Next, the original photographs are used to “paint" on the actual colours of the object (on a 3D model the colours are called a “texture”). And - voilá! - you have a 3D mushroom!