HOWTO make a custom snowglobe of your house

A clever fellow called Qarl figured out how to make a custom snowglobe of his family's house as a surprise gift for his wife. He auto-modelled it in Google Sketchup, cleaned it up some, added a snowy hill, sent the model to a 3D printing company, and popped it in a snowglobe kit. Voila!

1) order a custom snowglobe kit. ebay has a bunch to choose from. try to find one that tells you its exact dimensions so you can size your model before the globe arrives in the mail.

2) take pictures of your house. you probably want at least eight circling the perimeter. more can’t hurt.
i also grabbed a top-down view of my house from google’s satellite maps. it’s very low-res, but the house is going to be tiny, so it works out.

3) build a cg model of your house.
i tried a handful of the “automatic” systems to build models. microsoft’s photosynth, autodesk’s 123D catch, a couple lesser known programs. none of them worked well enough to produce a final model - they did well for 75% of the model, but then horribly mutilated the last 25%. in the end i went with google’s sketchup - its photo match tools are great for building models from photos of buildings.

the weather outside is frightful (via Super Punch)


  1. Yeah, Google Sketchup is absurdly easy to make a model of your house in. You don’t even need dimensions, just photos of the house.

    1. Oh yeah, I was thinking “I can do this” till he took a trip into Maya and “UV Coordinates”… detour into WTF?

        1. yup, I’m all over sketchup, and its available to anybody. Maya? Probably a free trial available, but you don’t casually stroll into that interface, and start manipulating UV coordinates no less.

  2. Qarl is a pretty awesome guy, he worked on the Matrix movies if I remember right, worked for Linden Labs for a long time and is now doing a commission to make a mesh deformer for Second Life.

  3. I love it! I did a HO scale model of my parents house this past Xmas. I spent an insane amount of time on the roof deck with scale lumber pieces.  I used a laser cutter to cut the walls and roofs and some other details, the rest was built with Northeastern scale lumber and plastruct scale plastic pieces. , final cost is well under $30.

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