Publishing 3D models on external platforms

We primarily emphasise good practice when publishing 3D models of objects, buildings, and smaller archaeological sites on external platforms. But to contextualise the publishing of 3D models, we also provide a general description of our approach to creating 3D models.

3D models, digitally or as printed objects, can be used in a number of areas, internally and publicly. 3D models should not just be viewed as an end and a method unto themselves, but as a complement to, and a way of enriching other media and information channels. The are a number of issues and working processes that apply to all digitisation work, regardless of whether it is 2D or 3D. These pages therefore also contain a section on general issues and guidelines for digitisation and dissemination of digital material.

3D technology is still a fairly new concept

In the cultural heritage field, working with 3D models remains somewhat of an experimental activity. To help you with possible approaches when producing, publishing, and using 3D models in practical contexts, we have included a collection of links, with references to relevant 3D projects, to provide in-depth knowledge and inspiration.

Publishing 3D models

Sketchfab and Wikimedia Commons are currently the biggest and most useful public platforms for 3D models. There are other platforms for publishing 3D models, such as Scan The World and Tingiverse. Publishing on established external platforms increases the accessibility of 3D models and promotes the exchange of knowledge around these models. Publishing on more than one public platform further increases the accessibility and the chances of reaching new target groups.

To consider before publishing

• Why is this object being published as a 3D model?
• Does the 3D model increase the understanding and experience of the object?
• Can the model and information about the models be used for educational purposes? (This is a requirement for publication on Wikimedia Commons.)
• Target group? How can you improve the chances of reaching this target group, for example by also publishing the model on social media?

Context and supplementary information

In order to make 3D models uploaded to external platforms comprehensible, searchable, and useful, they need to include as detailed information as possible. It is also a good idea to include links to articles and websites where related information and sources can be found.

Publishing 3D models, both on your own website and on external platforms, also allows you to supplement the model with additional information in the form of photos, drawings, maps, video, audio, links to in-depth information in, for example, Wikipedia articles, etc.

A 3D model of a laser-scanned rock carving can, in addition to a descriptive text and voiceover, also include photos and frottage pictures showing clarifying (coloured in) images of the carvings and, where relevant, various possible interpretations. When publishing on Sketchfab, it is also possible to add annotations with information about details in the model.

Frequently asked question: can others download and use the models?
Wikimedia Commons only hosts materials which is not copyrighted or which is covered by a free license, primarily the Creative Commons licenses which allow materials to also be used commercially and be disseminated in processed form. The file formats should also be free, which means that you cannot use patented formats on Wikimedia Commons.

Learn more about publishing on Wikimedia Commons

On Sketchfab you can choose whether the models are to be “display only” or “display and download” under one of the Creative Commons licenses. We recommend using the open license (“CC Attribution”) and allowing downloads, in order to maximise usability and availability.

Learn more about publishing on Sketchfab

See instructional videos of the various stages of publishing 3D models on Sketchfab