123D Catch for iPhone. Source: WhiteClouds
123D Catch for iPhone. Source: WhiteClouds

123D Catch for iPhone is a free app available in the iTunes App Store. The app allows you to capture 3D images with your iPhone using photogrammetry technology. The technology works by taking many images of an object, from many angles, and meshing them together to create a 3D model. The models created with 123D Catch are interactive and can be shared with your friends and family through Autodesk’s community of 3D photographers. With some post-design work, the 3D models can be 3D printed at home or sent to a 3D printing service.    

123D Catch gets a customer rating of 3 stars in the iTunes App Store. Some customers commented about the app’s instability and the time it takes to process the images to create a 3D model. We also experienced the same problems. The technology is still in its infancy, but the fact that you can create a digital 3D model from photographs on your iPhone is pretty amazing.

123D Catch is available as a free download for your PC, as a web app, and as an app for your iOS device. This article is specifically about 123D for iPhone.

The 123D Catch App for iPhone has a simple interface. When you first open the app, you can view recent captures from other users or create a capture of your own.

If you would like to create your own capture, click the + button.

The interface to create a 3D model looks very similar to the iPhone’s camera interface. You’ll notice two circles divided into sections. These circles are guides to show you where to position your phone to take the images. The guides work really well and take out the guesswork of capturing a model.

To capture an object, walk around your subject and take a number of images. You’ll also take some pictures from above your subject, if possible. When you’ve finished taking the pictures, tap the Checkmark button. This will transfer all of your images to the Autodesk servers where they will be rendered into a 3D model. This process takes about an hour, depending on the model.

Once your model is returned to you, you can use finger gestures to rotate and zoom your model. You can then choose to publish and share your model or keep it private. Click Done to save your 3D object.

Your model probably isn’t going to be perfect. The 3D capture shows the base where the object is sitting and possibly some of the background. 123D Catch gives you a great start on a model. You can clean up the model with tools found at 123d.autodesk.com or by using other modeling software.

There is also a menu in the upper-left corner that provides more options and interactions with the app.

Upper-Left Menu – Tap the menu icon in the upper-left hand corner of the screen to reveal more options. Tap the menu icon again to close the menu. Here are the menu items:

Home – See your own models and interact with other 123D Catch users. Under Home, you will see five categories:

  • Captures – Shows your saved models. Click a model to open it.
  • Favorites – Shows the models of other users that you have tagged as a favorite.
  • Following – Shows other users that you are following.
  • Followers – Shows other users that are following you. 
  • Sign Out – This will sign out of your Autodesk account.

My Feed – When you follow other users, their captures will show up here.

My Activity – All of your activity in 123D Catch will show up here. This might be a recent capture, comment, or when another user follows you.

Popular – See the most popular catches. Sort them by last week, last month, and all time.

Recent – Displays the most recent captures by the 123D Catch community.

Featured – Displays the featured captures.

123D – View a list of all of the other 123D apps for iOS devices, including 123D Creature, 123D Design, 123D Make Intro and 123D Sculpt. There is also information about other Autodesk programs, such as 123D Make and Tinkercad.

Go Premium –Information on a Premium membership.

123D Catch for iPhone is a fun app. While it’s not perfect, it’s amazing that you can generate a 3D image with your iPhone. For more information and video tutorials, visit: http://www.123dapp.com/catch.