This is a super quick and dirty tutorial for using 123D Catch to get a fast and easy easy 3D scan of your head. Once you have the scan or “catch” the tutorial will take you through a technique to clean it up and manipulate it for 3D printing.


Please note that the 3D printed plastic is not food-safe. The next step would be to use the 3D print to make a casting mold and cast it in a food-safe ceramic. A suitable tutorial for that next step can be found here: Lifecasting – hands.

The benefits of the technique used in this tutorial are efficiency and speed as well as the relativity gentle learning curve for those without experience in CAD (computer assisted design).


Project Steps

Prepare for the catch.

For the catch of your head it is much easier if you have someone assist you.

There are two approaches to the catch: an iPhone/iPad or a digital camera and computer. In my experience I have found the iPhone/iPad method to be the fastest and most reliable so that is the method explained here. If you would like to know the other method (which is actually very similar) visit:

For the ihone/iPad approach download the (free) 123D Catch app from the app store. Then create an account & log in.

You (person having their head captured) should be sitting down with enough room around you for the “assistant” (person assisting taking the photos) to walk around taking photos. Make sure your assistant keeps your head within the frame.

The environment should be as evenly lit as possible, but does not require studio quality backdrops or lights (in fact it works better without them).

Sit as still as possible and stare directly forward for the best results

Capture your head.

Open 123D Catch and tap “New Capture” at the center bottom of the screen.

Taking a photo by taping the camera icon, have your assistant walk around you taking photos about chest-high every few seconds, again making sure to keep your head within the frame. The aim would be to get 10-15 photos for every lap and to have 3 laps; one below eye line , one at the eye line, and one above (as shown in the diagram).

Once your assistant has completed the 3 laps and the image count is between 25-35, tap the “Review” button in the bottom right corner. Then tap “Finish Capture” in the top right.

Makerbot has some good tips on catching here. Tinkernut also has a very nice you tube clip of the whole process Weekend Hacker: Turn Photos Into 3D Models.

Publish the catch.

Tap “Tap to Process” and name your capture, choose a category, add tags, and a description, then tap “Submit.” After the loading bar reaches 100% you can inspect the catch. You are looking for a clean hollow model that closely represents the catchee. Any discolorations or unnecessary background can be removed in the next step.

Tap the export icon and select “Share to Community.”

On your computer open your web browser and navigate to the 123Dapps”> site & sign in.

Navigate to “My corner tab” and find the model you just shared, click it, and on the right hand side you will see a download section. Download the .zip file under “Mesh Package File.”

Clean it up in MeshMixer.

Download MeshMixer from here.

Open MeshMixer and go to File > Import and find where you downloaded the .zip file in the last step. Once located select & open the .obj file.

Follow Makerbot’s tutorial on cleaning up a model here using the Inspector and Autofix tools. You can also use the VolBrush tools to create a spoon shape by pulling a stem out, expanding it into a bubble then pushing it into a concave form. For a more in-depth explanation of this refer to MeshMixers tutorial page.

Once done select File > Export and chose ASCII.stl format.

Print it!

Take the file into ReplicatorG or similar 3D print software and print as you would normally. Then use this as a model to cast a food-safe version of your model spoon head.

An easy alternative to 3D printing yourself is to use Shapeways. To do this with the ready to print file open in MeshMixer navigate to Actions > “Publish to Shapeways” and have it 3D printed through their storefront. The benefit of this is that you can have it directly printed in food-safe ceramic.