Getting started with 3D Design

Well… It all happened so fast!

Stick with me as this post contains

  • design of 3d printable objects,
  • capturing a 3d model of an object with a mobile phone,
  • modifying the captured mesh,
  • a 3d printer,
  • and lots of media content, images and videos (most of the post is eye-candy).

Brief visual summary:


Designing is simple

One of these I saw a video from Make where they explain the procedure of designing a 3d printable hand knob for bolts. The next morning I woke up and wanted to try it. After installing Autodesk 123D Design I reproduced the bolt knobs in 5 minutes which blew my mind. The tool is intuitive and simple yet powerful.

You can try the same yourself:

This tutorial shows rather advanced techniques to make a boat model.

Capturing 3D with an Android phone

The Autodesk 123D Catch android app lets you capture the 3d model of an object by having you take several photos of it at specified angles (the app has indicators for this) and then uploads these photos to the Autodesk cloud for processing.

As for the object to be captured I picked the crochet figure of Totoro that my girlfriend made.


After uploading the data, I turned the wifi on the phone off for the night, since it is not needed to do anything else. The next morning I had my 3d model finished. I was amazed how well this worked out, not mentioning that is a free app! The model can be downloaded in STL or imported into other Autodesk products once logged in.

Some screenshots of the captured model, scroll down for 3d viewer link.

Screenshot 2015-06-20 23.39.06Screenshot 2015-06-20 23.40.03 Screenshot 2015-06-20 23.40.17

Screenshot 2015-06-20 23.40.48
Notice how the indents of crochet pattern appear

You can get it here & 3D viewer:

Editing the captured 3D model

Even so this capture is very nice, there is plenty of extra content there apart from the object I wished to capture. Since the algorithm reconstructed everything it could, I ended up having parts of the room in the 3d model as well. To clean it up, first I wanted to used meshlab, but then found that there is a tool from Autodesk that can be used for this, meet MeshMixer!

This app is also fairly intuitive, cleaning the model up took no time. Saving it can be done in mesh mixer format, exporting to STL or directly uploading it to the Autodesk user project space.

See the cleaned up model of Totoro on the link below. I also fixed the orientation of the model because the former one had the world flipped upside down.


3D printer

I think this is the best time to announce that I have backup up the Tiko project on kickstarter, which means that in February 2016 I will receive my first 3D printer. Until that this day comes I will try to spend some time designing parts that I’d like to print. This Totoro project is great to get familiar with the tools so that I won’t have too much trouble with robotic hands.

I’m pretty excited about it, looking for good filaments now.


It seems that with this product line Autodesk has targeted newbies like me who know what they’d like to do and willing to sacrifice the precision and complexity of more professional tools (Solidworks, Inventor, etc) on the altar of simplicity.

So once again, I used

productIcon_Catch_48x48123D Design to create the bolt knob and boat model based on the tutorial videos. I am planning to use it to further extend the Totoro model and make it 3d printer friendly.


123D Catch to capture the 3d model of the Totoro crochet in my living room with my Android phone.


MeshMixer to clean up the captured 3d model since it had half of the above mentioned living room also in the mesh.  The resulting model then can be imported into 123D Design for further extension/changes.

The result of using these tools can then be turned into a real object provided that one has access to a 3D printer or printing service. Have fun!

And no, this post was not sponsored by Autodesk in any way, I’d wish though… 🙂


  1. 123D Design Make bolt knob video:
  2. Tiko kickstarter:
  3. Tiko main website:
  4. 123D Design main website:
  5. 123D Catch main website:
  6. Totoro plush:
  7. Totoro plush cut:

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