Digitize 2D Patterns and Templates with a Camera

  • Do you use CNC cutting in your textile business?
  • Do you need to convert templates and patterns into CAD?
  • Are your current options not capable, expensive, inaccurate, or tedious?

   Yes? Take a look at PhotoModeler for your 2D pattern digitizing needs!

I’d looked at other digitizing systems, and regardless of price, PhotoModeler was the better product. It is easy to set up, easy to use, has good integration with industry standard CAD packages – which eases the learning curve, and importantly, if the camera can be mounted high enough, a massive field of view. Our pattern capture workflow has been massively reduced in term of time and required skill sets! - John Bland, Managing Director, Tecsew Ltd.

John Bland of Tecsew

Introducing PhotoModeler's Pattern Digitization

Benefits of PhotoModeler for Pattern Capture

The PhotoModeler software provides a flexible, efficient and cost-effective method to digitize patterns and templates using a standard camera. Here are some of the benefits:

Large templates/pattern capture

No special background or special mat needed. Move camera away to capture large patterns. PhotoModeler can calibrate wide angle lenses for a big capture area - great for lower ceilings and small rooms. 

Cost effective

A normal camera, and PhotoModeler Standard with the Template Pattern Capture Add-on is all you need. ($1295us one time, or $65us/month)

Any material, any thickness 

Digitize paper, plastics, cardboard, wood, and metal patterns, or even original fabric panels.

Easy remote digitizing

No need to send an expensive piece of equipment to your remote clients or field offices.

Work how you want 

Digitize manually or automatically in PhotoModeler, or export corrected images for digitizing in your favorite CAD package. Direct support for Rhino 3D. No need to learn another CAD tool.


Flexible use 

Capture patterns with a permanently mounted camera in your factory, or use a moving camera for quick setups and for capturing patterns in the field (even with remote clients). For permanently mounted camera, only small dots need to remain on the table, floor, or wall after calibration.

View text and annotations

Capturing the pattern with a camera and PhotoModeler’s corrected image output, captures your text and annotations as part of the project.


PhotoModeler’s background is accurate photogrammetry. PhotoModeler understands the distortions that cameras cause and corrects for them.

No special table 

Use any table, the floor, or a wall as your background. If using a table, it can even move between sessions.


Once your pattern is down, there is no contact, so it won’t move or buckle.

Easy re-visits

Forget to digitize part of the pattern? No problem, just reload the photo you previously captured.

Room to grow 

The same PhotoModeler software can be used for full 3D modeling and capture when you want to skip 2D templating.

Pattern Digitization Steps

View the 2D Pattern Capture Tutorial videos for a visual step by step. 

PhotoModeler allows you to work in two different ways. A permanent setup with a camera mounted on the ceiling or wall, or a moving camera setup.

  • Mounted Camera – Use this approach when you have a dedicated workspace and intend to digitize templates repeatedly. The setup phase is more involved, but the digitizing of each template is faster.
  • Moving Camera – Use this approach for non-permanent setups, of it you intend to produce a single or small batch of template outlines. This approach has two variants, where the setup is reusable vs a single/one-off project.

The approaches for the mounted camera, and moving camera with reusable setup start the same. You first create a base project using PhotoModeler Coded Target sheets. This will calibrate your camera and your setup.  You then place your patterns, take a photo, load the 'base' project and digitize your lines or edges.

With the moving camera and temporary setup, there is no base project. Instead you place your pattern and the Coded Targets sheets all at once, take a number of photos from different angles, and then the photos and measurements can be used locally or sent to a remote site for the digitizing process.

It may seem complex but you will tend to use just one of the variants and won't have to worry about the others.

Greater detail on the steps can be found in the PhotoModeler 2D Template and Pattern Digitizing Procedures Guide. Contact us to get a copy.

The Digitizing Step

The actually step of digitizing the outlines, lines, or edges of your pattern can be carried out one of three ways. One of these will work for you.

  1. PhotoModeler produces a corrected photo (called an ortho-photo) where all distortions are removed.  This photo is exported to your favorite CAD package (there is a direct export for Rhino, but it works with other packages that support scaled background images). You then perform you digitizing steps in your CAD package to draw lines and curves on top of the visible corrected image. 
  2. PhotoModeler performs its geometry calculations, and you manually outline the pattern in PhotoModeler using the Surface Draw Line and Curve tools. You then export this vector data to your CAD or CAM software to complete.
  3. PhotoModeler performs its geometry calculations, and you use the semi-automated Auto-Trace tool in PhotoModeler to produce a set of lines. You then export this vector data to your CAD or CAM software to edit and complete.

In reality you can use combinations of these. You may wish to use Auto-Trace to do the work of digitizing the detail, and then export this data along with an export of the corrected ortho-photo, so you have the best of both worlds in your CAD package.  

Requirements and Cost

To use PhotoModeler for 2D pattern and template capture you will need:

  • A camera (DSLR, mirror-less, point & shoot, or mobile phone) ²
  • PhotoModeler Standard and the Template Pattern Capture Add-on ($1295 usd) ³
  • A flat area to lay down your patterns
  • Occasional access to a high quality b&w printer
  • A Windows 10+ computer with 8GB+ memory

 Note²  If permanently mounting a camera you will want to look for a camera with a non-zoom lens, that can be powered and controlled at a distance, that has sufficient resolution, and where images can be transferred to your PC at a distance. See one option for remote control.

 Note³  The 'Template Pattern Capture Add-on' is $395 if adding to an existing PhotoModeler Standard License, or $1295 as a bundle.  The Add-on is included in PhotoModeler Premium ($2995) at no additional cost. For subscriptions, the bundle is $65/month or $545/year.

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