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updated: 6/18/2014 3:14 PM

Smithsonian creates first 3D portrait of a president

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  • The first presidential portrait created from 3-D scan data.

    The first presidential portrait created from 3-D scan data.
    Associated Press/Smithsonian

Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- A team at the Smithsonian Institution has scanned President Barack Obama's head to create the first 3D portrait of a sitting president.

Digital imaging specialists have created a 3D printed bust and life mask of Obama, which will be his first presidential depictions in the National Portrait Gallery collection. Both were shown Wednesday at a gathering of inventors, entrepreneurs and students at the White House.

The Smithsonian says its team scanned Obama earlier this year using two distinct 3D processes. Experts from the University of Southern California used their "light stage" face scanner to document the president's face from ear to ear.

The Smithsonian has three other life masks of presidents -- one of George Washington and two of Abraham Lincoln. Those were created through plaster casting.

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