How and When to use PhotoModeler Smart Match and DSM

The SmartMatch and DSM (Dense Surface Modeling) tools are used to automatically detect and match features across multiple overlapping photos. The result is a dense point cloud that can optionally be triangulated/surfaced to form the shape. Projects built with DSM tools can be supplemented with traditional modeling features, such as points and lines.

Appropriate Subjects | Photography | Examples | Tools to Use | Other Resources


The appropriate subjects for SmartMatch and DSM projects are those with natural random 'texture' like the objects shown in these images. Then PhotoModeler Scanner's SmartMatch and DSM tools can be used to build dense point clouds, with or without photo-textured surfacing/triangulation.

Lion Statue Sample
artifact sample
mine sample
leaf sample
rusty van sample
facade sample
church sample
petroglyph sample
wood sample


Take photos with plenty of overlap (aim for approximately 60% overlap) and small angle changes from one photo to the next. Depending on the object being modeled, photography should have horizontal and sometimes also vertical separation between camera positions to reduce risk of gaps in the point cloud where the object surfaces aren't visible on enough photos.

The ring method for a full surround model:
Ring Photos Top View
ring photos side view
The row method for a single face or side:
row photos top
row side
The aerial method for full site coverage:
aerial photos top


Here are some examples using this technique - with a brief description, a sample photo, the camera positions, and the 3D model for each:

Sample Photo
Photography Pattern
3D Result
  • Statue
  • 34 photos
  • Additional manual points and lines
  • Photo-textured surfaces
  • lionsample lion sample lion 3D
  • Aztec stone artifact
  • 15 photos
  • Artifact analysis
  • Dimensions
  • artifact sample
    artifact camera positions
    artifact 3D
  • Stockpile survey
  • 28 aerial UAS / UAV photos
  • Colorize by height
  • Volume measurement
  • mine sample photo
    mine cameras
    mine 3D
  • Church façade
  • 40 photos
  • Architectural preservation
  • church sample photo
    church camera positions
    church 3D
  • Petroglyph mapping
  • 5 photos
  • Contours
  • Photo textured surfaces
  • petroglyph sample photo
    petroglyph camera positions
    Petroglyph 3D
  • House façade
  • 12 photos
  • SmartMatch orientation
  • manual points, lines, surfaces
  • CAD model export
  • facade photo sample
    facade Camera Position
    facade 3D

    The STEPS

    PhotoModeler tools used in these projects:

    • SmartMatch – To orient your photos and build the approximate shape
    • DSM/MVS – To build the dense point cloud
    • PointMesh Edit – Triangulation to triangulate/surface the point cloud
    • Points and Lines – Optional, for supplemental feature delineation

    SmartMatch, DSM and PointMesh Edit tools are available in PhotoModeler Scanner and PhotoModeler UAS.

    The STEPS

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