Drone 3D Modeling for Beginners - Low Cost Solutions
4.4 (77 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
261 students enrolled

Drone 3D Modeling for Beginners - Low Cost Solutions

Learn to create your first Drone 3D Model without breaking the bank. Understand the basics of Drone 3D Models & Maps
4.4 (77 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
261 students enrolled
Last updated 11/2018
English [Auto-generated]
Current price: $15.99 Original price: $24.99 Discount: 36% off
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This course includes
  • 2.5 hours on-demand video
  • 2 downloadable resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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What you'll learn
  • Students will have a basic understanding of creating 3D Models with drones
  • Students will learn about several 3D modeling image capture apps
  • Students will learn about 3D Model processing software such as Pix4D, Photoscan, Drone Deploy, and Maps Made Easy
  • Students will learn about all of the expenses that go along with 3D Drone Modeling
  • A Drone / UAV will be required.
  • DJI Drones are preferable
  • A laptop or desktop computer will be required for image offload and potentially modeling as well.
  • At least 1 Drone Capture Application for iOS or Android
  • An iOS or Android smart phone or tablet
  • Access to 3D Modeling Software, cloud based or desktop based. Pix4D, Drone Deploy, Maps Made Easy, PhotoScan, Reality Capture
  • Students should understand the rules and regulations when it comes to Drone / UAV flight

This course covers the basics of creating interesting 3D Models / Maps with drones.  There is a lot of upfront investment if you're interested in drone 3D Modeling for a business, so before you dive in you should have the basics down.  In order to generate 3D Models with UAVs you need several things:

  1. A drone with a camera.  DJI Drones are used for this course, but you can create 3D models with many drones.

  2. A computer for offloading your captured images.  Windows and Mac systems are both viable.  For high end and large models you'll need a faster computer for model generation.

  3. Access to 3D Modeling rendering software.  Cloud based solutions and desktop solutions both exist.

  4. Lot's of patience.

This course covers "Photogrammetry."  The dictionary definition of this topic is, "The use of photography in surveying and mapping to measure distances between objects."  Today's Photogrammetry goes beyond just measuring distances and is not just used for surveying and mapping.  3D Modeling today with drones can provide realistic models of land, businesses, homes, accident scenes, and more.  Drone Photogrammetry is beginning to show up in multiple industries across the world.

This course does not cover the high end topics for modeling, and is instead an introduction to the basic topics.  In the class we will:

  • Look into several 3D Modeling image capture Apps for smart phones and tablets.

  • Talk about planning your model prior to heading to your selected location.

  • Demonstrate planning a mission with Map Pilot from Maps Made Easy.

  • Fly a 19.19 acre modeling mission with Map Pilot.

  • Process the 19.19 acre mission with Photoscan Standard (available on Windows and Mac OSX).

  • Share the created model via Sketchfab.

  • Creating a small 3D Model mission of a new home with Litchi (Android and iOS capture App) using only a short orbit of the home.

  • Process the mission with Drone Deploy, Maps Made Easy, and Photoscan Standard, and compare the outputs from the 3 platforms.

  • Share your small home model with Drone Deploy, Maps Made Easy, and Sketchfab (with data from Photoscan).

  • Discuss the differences between the model rendering software (Pix4D, Drone Deploy, Maps Made Easy, Photoscan).

  • Discuss the costs of generating your models before you sign up with a particular service, or purchase a stand alone desktop application.

  • Discuss a "free" option from Pix4D to test your models.

When students complete this class they'll have a basic understanding of how to plan for their Drone 3D Models, utilize 3D image capture applications for drones, process their 3D models with a variety of services and software, and share their final renders with the world.  This class will not teach students how to do high end commercial 3D Modeling, but will leave students with the building blocks to take their interest in 3D Modeling further.

Finally, a big intent for this course is to help drone pilots learn about 3D modeling with drones without breaking the bank.  As students investigate the costs of generating these models they'll learn about the hidden costs and obvious costs.  Higher end drones aren't cheap.  Cloud processing could cost you thousands of dollars per year.  Desktop photogrammetry software licensing can cost thousands of dollars per year.  And a properly built 3D modeling computer can run into thousands of dollars quickly.  This course identifies each of these financial barriers and allows students to begin learning about 3D modeling without a high investment.

Who this course is for:
  • UAV pilots interested in creating 3D Models
  • Drone pilots interested in 3D Modeling basics
  • People interested in drone flight, models, and potentially mapping
  • Drone pilots looking to start learning about construction modeling for a living
  • Drone pilots looking to start learning how to model landscapes
  • Drone pilots looking to start 3D modeling for fun
Course content
Expand all 14 lectures 02:35:57
+ Introduction to Drone 3D Modeling for Beginners | Low cost learning options
2 lectures 32:05

Welcome to the first lecture for this series, Drone 3D Modeling for beginners.  If you've always wanted to learn more about building 3D Models with your drone for fun, this is the class for you.  If you're interested in getting into 3D Modeling with drones for your own business, and you have no prior experience making these types of models, this class is for you as well.  Students who are already using drones to do modeling in their businesses will probably not find this class useful, as they're already beyond the scope of the course.  Finally, we're going to talk about the most reasonable costs associated with getting into 3D modeling so that you don't end up spending thousands of dollars on something you're not even selling yet.

Preview 13:56

This lecture reviews the basic steps involved in generating 3D models with a drone.  First you must capture the images you need for your model.  After capturing the images you'll process them with a desktop solution like PhotoScan or Pix4D Discovery, or you'll upload your images to a cloud service like Drone Deploy, Pix4D, or Maps Made Easy.  Finally once you've completed your model you'll want to share it with the world, friends and family, or potential clients.

Preview 18:09
+ The software we'll need. Capture Apps and 3D Modeling Programs.
3 lectures 23:41

In this lecture we'll review some of the most popular capture applications out there.  These Apps are used on Android devices and iOS devices, and we'll be specifically looking at Apps that work with DJI drone products.  We'll talk about Ground Station Pro, Map Pilot, Pix4D Capture, Drone Deploy, and in a later lecture we'll also mention Litchi.

Capture Apps Part 1 - Reviewing a few of the well known 3D Image capture apps.

All 3D modeling capture applications for DJI drones do very similar things.  Plan your flight, capture images at regular intervals, fly autonomously, and return to you at the completion of their missions.  You can capture NADIR images (shooting straight down at the ground or at a slight angle to the ground) and you can also do orbits around smaller objects for modeling as well.  All images need some level of overlap for matching up to create your model, and the applications go about it in the same way over and over again.

Capture Apps Part 2 - The basics of what these Apps actually do for us.

There are multiple 3D Modeling software packages out there.  They all perform similar functions.  You import your images (or upload to the cloud) and process them with the software.  Each of the programs helps align your images, generate a point cloud, create a 3D mesh over your point cloud, and add a texture layer to your final 3D Model.  The applications we'll be using in the rest of the course are:

  • Drone Deploy - A cloud based solution. The minimum price of using this service is $129 per month, or $996 for the year.

  • Maps Made Easy - A cloud based solution.  The price depends on the size of model and features you want in it.  You purchase points from the company to process your models.

  • Photoscan from Agisoft.  $179 for a "standard" license with many disabled features, $3500 for the Pro version with all features enabled.

  • Pix4D - The pricing here starts at "Free" for Pix4D discovery which has mostly disabled features, next level $50 per month, and for the full version (desktop and cloud) $3500 per year.

3D Modeling Software - This is where it can get expensive fast!
+ Planning and flying a 3D mission with Map Pilot from Maps Made Easy
2 lectures 22:46

In this lecture we'll setup a large flight mission to create a 3D model of a section of the Granite Dells in Prescott Arizona.  The mission will be laid out with Map Pilot, and will be setup as a multi-battery mission which will be flown by a DJI Mavic 2 Pro.

Map Pilot Mission Planning. Plan missions from the comfort of your couch!

In this lecture the drone is launched and controlled by Map Pilot.  We won't watch the whole flight, as it's just a drone going back and forth on a grid pattern.  At the start of the flight we'll find out that Map Pilot can alter the duration of your flight based on light conditions and wind conditions as well.  In this case, the mission is extended into a 4 battery mission taking more than an hour to fully fly. 

The Map Pilot Flight and image capture - The mission changes due to light!
+ Creating 3D Models from our flights - How did our Map Pilot Mission work out?
4 lectures 48:50

In this lecture we'll review generating a 3D Model with PhotoScan and the data we collected in our Map Pilot mission.  The process is incredibly time consuming, so the lecture will be paused off and on to cut down students' time "watching paint dry."  The reality of building large 3D models with drones is that processing time can go on for hours or days.

Photoscan Model Build - 19.19 acre model generated with Map Pilot and Mavic2 Pro

Taking a closer look at Photoscan in this lecture and some of the basic tools associated with Photoscan.  With the standard edition we can generate our models, export models for other programs, and refine our models as well.

Reviewing the final Lake Shore Model with Photoscan - Photoscan Basics

Another model was generated while building this class.  In the case of this model we used Litchi's orbit mode to collect the image data.  We then used Photoscan, Drone Deploy, and Maps Made Easy to generate our model.  As we look at each application you'll notice some very distinct differences between the models and the sharing tools available.

Both Maps Made Easy and Drone Deploy are cloud processors only, they do not have desktop applications.  So you must upload your images to their sites and wait for notification when your model is completed.

Students will notice the higher quality output on Maps Made Easy and Drone deploy quickly in comparison to Photoscan.  Remember, all of the Photoscan models in this course have been rendered on lower settings.  If you select higher settings in Photoscan you will get better results, but the process will be incredibly time consuming unless you have a computer that has been built for 3D Modeling.

Another small model build using Photoscan, Drone Deploy, and Maps Made Easy.

If you're going to use Photoscan standard on your desktop you still need a way to share your models online.  Sketchfab is one solution that works very well.  In this lecture we'll talk about exporting the model for Sketchfab and then displaying it on the service.

Sharing a Photoscan Model Online - Exporting the house model for Sketchfab
+ A free Drone 3D Model processing service? Pix4D Discovery? Let's take a look.
2 lectures 20:02

Can you generate drone 3D Models for free with Pix4D?  Apparently you can with Pix4D Discovery.  While you can't export anything after completing models with this version of Pix4D (models, point clouds, etc), you can practice your Pix4D model generation on your computer to see how your flight captures are going.  This is a great way to work on your drone modeling and mapping before you heavily invest in software, hardware, and your potential business.

Pix4D Discovery is for non commercial use.  So you won't be using this on your YouTube Channel if it's monetized, or for commercial presentations.  Think of it as your sandbox for your personal testing only.

Pix4D Discovery - What is this all about, and how can you get it?

In this lecture we follow along with the processing steps for Pix4D Discovery.  The lecture uses Pix4D Model as "Discovery" is for non-commercial use only.  But the steps for model generation in both "Model" and "Discovery" are very similar, so you'll get the full idea of how building a model with this version of Pix4D works.

Creating a model with Pix4D Discovery and a Litchi Orbit Mission
+ Conclusions - Start making 3D Models with your drone for a small investment.
1 lecture 08:33

In our final lecture we discuss our options for creating 3D models with a Drone that doesn't cost a lot of money.  As students have discovered in this course, there are some fairly reasonable solutions for making simple models for free.  We also discuss the option of using higher end processing software temporarily with trials. 

Low Cost Drone 3D Modeling & Mapping Options - Learn to model on the cheap!