Alexander Pope: 3D model or ‘bust’!

Early last summer, YDC2 worked with the post-docs to image a bust of Alexander Pope by Louis Francois Roubiliac (see our post– Have 3D scanner, will travel).  On February 6, the YDC2 Imaging Lab, along with the Computer Science department, continued the collaboration with the Yale Center for British Arts (YCBA) on the second part of this project.

The YCBA was planning a new exhibit:  Fame and Friendship:  Pope,  Roubiliac and the Portrait Bust of Eighteenth Century Britain.  Louis Francois Roubiliac produced eight sculptural representations of Alexander Pope which are now spread out among different collections around the world.  This exhibit would be the first time all eight busts would be together in approximately 50 years.  The YCBA requested the application of 3D laser scanning to yield digital replicas in the hopes of determining the chronology of the creation of the busts.  The 3D models would not only give researchers surface geometry but also dimensions of Pope’s features and how the tool mark placement varied between busts.

As the busts could not travel to the Imaging Lab, Jessica Slawski, Chelsea Graham, and Ying Yang set up the ShapeGrabber 3D laser scanning equipment in the YCBA. Chelsea, along with Ruggero Pintus and Ying Yang, Postdoctoral Fellows for the Computer Science department, began scanning the busts on February 6.  Once the busts were unpacked, they were photographed by YCBA staff.  After their photo shoot, the busts then began the 3D scanning process which took about 4 hours per bust.  When this process was complete, the busts were moved to the exhibit area to be installed.  Due to time constraints, only 4 of the busts were able to be 3D scanned before they were installed for the exhibit.  The hope is that the remaining 4 busts will be imaged during the exhibit de-installation.  The post processing of these 3D models will take up to 30 hours per bust.  Once the models are done, researchers will be able to overlay the models on top of each other to compare features and tool marks.

For more information on the Pope project, please see the following articles:

YCBA Pope Bust Scanning Project

The many faces of Alexander Pope: Illuminating art history through digital imaging


Chelsea Graham and Ying Yang set up the ShapeGrabber 3D laser scanner to start scanning the Pope busts for the Yale Center for British Art exhibit.


While many of the busts were marble, this one was unique as it was made out of terracotta. Terracotta bust of Alexander Pope by Louis Francois Roubiliac. On loan from the Barber Institute. Photo by Chelsea Graham.


Ying Yang and Chelsea Graham examine the 3D model of the Pope bust compiled by the scans of the ShapeGrabber laser scanner. The empty spots on the 3D model denote areas that the laser scanner was not able to reach. The bust needed to be turned so the laser could reach these areas and produce scans of the missing areas.  The scans would then be added to the 3D model filling in the missing spaces.


Once all of the scans of the bust have been completed, Chelsea Graham checks to make sure there are no ‘holes’, or missing data, in the 3D model. When this is confirmed, the model will then be post processed and the image ‘cleaned up’ to remove any extra data that was scanned along with the bust.


Once the 3D model was completed on the computer, it was then fed to a Makerbot 3D printer. The Makerbot printer lays down layer after layer of warm plastic and slowly builds the Pope bust from the ground up. The columns are support structures for various features on the bust such as the shoulders, ears and nose. Once the bust is finished printing and is cooled, these support structures can be broken off without harming the 4 inch bust underneath.  Photo by Chelsea Graham.



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