Siggraph 2014 is coming up this weekend in Vancouver and as expected, lots of exciting new computer graphics tech developments will be announced.

Among them is this incredible new photo editing tool from researchers at Carnegie Mellon and the University of California Berkeley.

Operating under the project title “3D Object Manipulation in a Single Photograph using Stock 3D Models”, the tool allows a user to manipulate an item within an existing ‘real-world’ photograph using a matched 3D model of said item.

While the computer scientists behind the project surely wanted to make the tool easy for non-3D modelers (read: ‘Stock 3D Models’), it makes you wonder just how powerful the tool can be for those who spend their days in SolidWorks, Rhino, Modo, and any other existing 3D content creation platform:

According to the abstract found in their project paper:

“Photo-editing software restricts the control of objects in a photograph to the 2D image plane. We present a method that enables users to perform the full range of 3D manipulations, including scaling, rotation, translation, and nonrigid deformations, to an object in a photograph. As 3D manipulations often reveal parts of the object that are hidden in the original photograph, our approach uses publicly available 3D models to guide the completion of the geometry and appearance of the revealed areas of the object. The completion process leverages the structure and symmetry in the stock 3D model to factor out the effects of illumination, and to complete the appearance of the object. We demonstrate our system by producing object manipulations that would be impossible in traditional 2D photo-editing programs, such as turning a car over, making a paper-crane flap its wings, or manipulating airplanes in a historical photograph to change its story.”


If putting a 3D model into a ‘real-world environment’ is what you’re truly after, you can achieve similar effects by either putting a 3D model into an augmented reality viewer or by using the new perspective matching tool in Keyshot 5 with an existing photograph and then adjusting your 3D model accordingly.


…interesting for sure but why put so much focus on the ‘stock 3D model’ aspect? Either way, it’s still a cool tool to play around with. What would you use it for?

If you want to try the new tool out for yourself, you can download it here (scroll to bottom of software agreement).

To stay in the loop on other Siggraph 2014 news, check back on SolidSmack and follow the official Siggraph 2014 Twitter feed.


Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.