Surface smoothing, decimation, and their effects on 3D biological specimens

Alessio Veneziano, Federica Landi, Antonio Profico*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Smoothing and decimation filters are commonly used to restore the realistic appearance of virtual biological specimens, but they can cause a loss of topological information of unknown extent. In this study, we analyzed the effect of smoothing and decimation on a 3D mesh to highlight the consequences of an inappropriate use of these filters. Materials and methods: Topological noise was simulated on four anatomical regions of the virtual reconstruction of an orangutan cranium. Sequential levels of smoothing and decimation were applied, and their effects were analyzed on the overall topology of the 3D mesh and on linear and volumetric measurements. Results: Different smoothing algorithms affected mesh topology and measurements differently, although the influence on the latter was generally low. Decimation always produced detrimental effects on both topology and measurements. The application of smoothing and decimation, both separate and combined, is capable of recovering topological information. Conclusion: Based on the results, objective guidelines are provided to minimize information loss when using smoothing and decimation on 3D meshes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-480
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of physical anthropology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • 3D imaging
  • decimation
  • morphometrics
  • smoothing
  • virtual anthropology

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