What 3D scanner to use for scanning people and animals?

3D scanners can take objects in real life and make scale models of them. One of the interesting things to do with 3D scanners is make scale models of people and animals. These can be used as game pieces, for example, or true to life toys. But what type of 3D scanner should you use?

When scanning people and animals, you have two choices: big scan boxes or the hand scanner. Today I will explain the two types of scanners and the pros and cons of each one.

Scan Box

This is the most common way to make a 3D model of a person, which may be available in public shopping centers. To use it, you would step into the scan box, which presents as a circular room. In the amount of time it would take to snap a picture, the scan box can image your body.

Here’s how it works. The scan box has somewhere between 60 and 120 cameras from various perspectives. They all take simultaneous pictures of you. The pictures are then processed through a program called Photogrametry and are processed into a 3D model.


One of the biggest pros of the scan box is how quick it is. If you’re trying to scan an image of an animal or a kid, you want something that doesn’t require them to stay still for very long. The scan box is perfect in that situation.


Due to their size, scan boxes are stationary by nature. They’re also expensive, running upwards of 40,000 Euros.

Hand Scanner

 Using a hand scanner is different from using a box scanner. For a hand scanner, the subject has to stand very still for upwards of five minutes while a person with a hand scanner walks around them scanning them from multiple angles. A hand scanner is a small device, which means that the person taking the image would have to walk around them many times to get the image.


 The pros of the hand scanner come down to two things: Cost and mobility. Unlike the box scanner, the hand scanner can go anywhere. This means that there are no size constraints when using a hand scanner. A hand scanner is also a lot cheaper than a box scanner, coming in at about 15,000 Euros.


 The biggest con of the hand scanner is the amount of time it takes. While a person is walking around using a hand scanner, the subject must stay perfectly still or the computer software will not be able to make sense of the image. You can imagine how difficult this would be with an animal or a small child.

I once tried to scan a horse. My friend was trying to hold him still with his bridle, but as I scanned his head he kept turning to look at the scanner, thinking he would get a treat. I couldn’t get a good scan because the software could not make sense of how his head was positioned in space.