St Martin in the Bull Ring grotesque

For me smartphone photogrammetry is a wonderful way to go beyond ‘normal’ 3D photos, adding extra depth that can be viewed from any angle. And one of the many things that make excellent subjects for 3D photos are architectural features and, when lucky enough to find an old church with them on, especially carved stone grotesques. In case you don’t know, grotesques are basically the same sort of thing as gargoyles, except they aren’t intended as spouts for rainwater drains (read more on Wikipedia). So, they’re carvings of weird, often mythical, creatures and faces that decorate areas like walls and window surrounds. One I found recently was at St Martin in the Bull Ring church in Birmingham, England, which appears to be a small dragon coming out of a ball of vegetation.

The carved stone grotesque on St Martin in the Bull Ring
The carved stone grotesque on St Martin in the Bull Ring

Quick summary of this 3D creation
Overview: A basic photogrammetry scan of a carved stone grotesque.
Location: St Martin in the Bull Ring church, Birmingham, England [map].
Date/era: Victorian, probably circa 1873.
Software used: Spectre3D Android app, Meshmixer.
Intended use: Computer graphics and 3D viewing.
Download: Sketchfab page.

I made the 3D scan using the excellent, and in my humble opinion reasonably priced, Android Spectre3D smartphone app. It was very quick and easy, requiring only around 30 seconds of video which I later uploaded to their server. The resulting 3D model had quite a lot of surrounding wall so I edited it in Meshmixer, including rotating and resizing. You can see the outcome of all that on Sketchfab below (click the play button to load the model and view it in 3D).

The 3D scan on Sketchfab.

The grotesque carving appears to be Victorian from around 1873, as the old church was demolished and a new one built (retaining the old tower and spire) around that year. However, looking at the photograph above, it has possibly been partly restored at a later date. If you want to know more about the history of St Martin in the Bull Ring you can read about it on their website, or on their excellent Wikipedia page. And I hope you’ll feel inspired by this 3D scan to visit their church and have a look for yourself 🙂