How to scan

Scanning a material involves photographing the material from different angles using a Bandicoot chart and a handheld camera with a flash.

Print a Bandicoot chart

You can make your own Bandicoot chart in a few minutes. Start by downloading a Bandicoot chart (we recommend starting with an A4 size chart):

Then:

  1. Open the document in any PDF viewer
  2. In the print settings, choose High quality and Borderless settings
  3. Print!
  4. Cut out the large grey rectangular area from the centre of the chart

Your new Bandicoot chart is now ready to use.

Tips for printing
  • Use white matte paper (avoid glossy paper)
  • Use an inkjet printer (laser printed charts can be too glossy)
  • Use heavier paper stock if you have it (standard office paper works OK too)
  • We're happy to send you a chart anytime, just ask.

Set up your camera

The only photo equipment you need to scan a material is a camera with a flash.

  • Use a DSLR or mirrorless camera with at least 24 megapixels.
  • Use a prime lens (this means a lens with a fixed focal length that does not zoom).
  • Use an external flash mounted on top of the camera in the hot-shoe (e.g. a Speedlight or Speedlite).

Here's how to set your camera up for taking a Bandicoot scan.

Camera settings:

  • Exposure: Manual (M)
  • Aperture (Av): f/16
  • Shutter speed (Tv): 1/200 s
  • ISO: 100
  • Photo format: RAW
  • White balance: Flash
  • Image stabilisation (lens and camera): Off

Flash settings:

  • Flash power: Manual (M) 1/16 (adjust for best exposure, see below)
Tips for camera setup
  • Keep the same camera, zoom and flash settings for all of the photos in a scan.

Take photos of your material

With chart in hand and camera set up, you're ready to scan your material.

Start by placing your material to be scanned on the floor or a low surface like a stool. Place the chart on top of the material. The part of the material visible inside the chart will appear in your Shimmer View. You'll want a metre or two of clear space around the chart on all sides so that you can move around and take photos.

Check your camera settings by taking a test flash photo with the camera over the top of the chart. Review the photo and histogram on the back of the camera:

  • The exposure should be as bright as possible, but without clipping (or over-saturating) any pixels.
  • Check the white parts of the chart and any bright reflections in the material for clipping.
  • You can adjust the exposure by changing the flash power, then take another test photo to check the exposure.

Now scan your material by taking 25 flash photos of the material and chart from a range of different angles:

  • One photo from directly above
  • A ring of 8 photos in a small inner circle
  • Another ring of 8 photos in a medium circle
  • A final ring of 8 photos in a large outer circle

Keep the chart as big as possible in every frame, but without cutting off any of the chart. You can rotate the camera freely to match the chart shape.

Tips for scanning
  • The material and chart have to stay completely still during the scan. Try not to bump it, you'll have to start again!
  • Avoid direct sunlight when taking the scan. A room with normal or dim room lighting is best.
  • Only take photos within an angle of about 45 degrees from vertical.
  • Try not to take repeated photos from the same angle.
  • If you accidentally take an out-of-focus or out-of-frame photo, you can just delete it.
Tips for material selection

Shimmer views work on a wide range of materials. Have a look through our gallery for inspiration. But there are some limitations:

  • The overall shape should be mostly flat so the chart can lay over it, but can be gently curved or have small variations in height. Avoid complicated surface shapes with large steps or thin features like fur or spikes.
  • Materials which work well include: organic materials like leather, woven textures like cloth, or surfaces with coloured patterns. Results may vary on plain or featureless materials.
  • You can scan materials which are shiny or have metallic highlights, but large mirror-like regions or sequins don't work so well. Materials which are see-through, or which emit their own light won't work.

Upload your scan

Click "Create" in the web app to enter the upload screen. Drag and drop your photo files into our uploader. Click "Upload" to upload the files.

Give your Shimmer view a name and an optional description. Enter your lens focal length, sensor dimensions, and distance from your flash to the centre of the camera lens, or ask us if you need help. Enter the paper size of the chart you used and your desired output resolution.

You can also choose between two Layout modes: Flat and Rumple.

  • Rumple mode is for finished objects whose shape you want to capture, like a handbag, jacket, or sculpture.
  • Flat mode is designed for tiling or CAD workflows where the material was scanned to be rendered on a different 3D shape. In a flat mode scan, the material should be laid as flat as possible when scanned.

Once the files are uploaded and your settings are entered, click "Process" to process the scan. We'll contact you once your Shimmer View is ready.

Summary

The most important steps for taking a great scan are:

  1. Use a high quality Bandicoot chart
  2. Check your camera exposure levels
  3. Make the chart as big as possible in the frame
  4. Cover a range of angles
  5. Don't move the chart or material

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