How It Works – PhotoModeler’s SmartMatch and DSM

How and When to use PhotoModeler's SmartMatch and DSM Methods

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

Appropriate subjects

The appropriate subjects for SmartMatch and DSM projects are those with natural random 'texture' like the objects shown in these images. PhotoModeler Standard and Premium have the SmartMatch tool. Only PhotoModeler Premium has the DSM tools that can be used to build dense point clouds and surfaces.


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:

The row method for a single face or side:

The aerial method for full site coverage:


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

Sample Description

Sample Photo

Photography Layout

3D Result

  • Building facade 
  • 40 photos
  • Architectural preservation
  • Point cloud
  • Statue
  • 34 photos
  • Additional manual points and lines
  • Photo-textured surfaces
  • Aztec stone artifact
  • 15 photos
  • No-touch artifact models
  • Dimensions
  • Petrogylph mapping
  • 5 photos
  • Contours
  • Photo-textures

tools to use

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 Premium.

other resources