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mfrauenfelder0008 Modeling a character for 3D printing

I’m excited to be trying out the Shapeways 3D printing service. I asked my friend (and esteemed MAKE Editor-in-Chief) Mark Frauenfelder if he’d mind me using one of his wonderful character designs, a cute little fellow called Red Critter. He gave his blessing and I was off.

shpwyCrtr01.png

I built the polygonal model using Autodesk Maya (you could use just about any 3D package, that’s just the one I’m most familiar with). Mark and I went through a couple of revisions to preserve the cookie-cutter appeal of the original. I can tell you from experience that it is rarely simple to realize a 2D character in 3D. This first model was built from as few polygons as possible, which makes revisions easier. I also built him fairly neutral, so I could add a “pose” later.

shpwyCrtr03.png

Since the Shapeways model cost is based on how much raw material you use, I decided to hollow out part of the model, as you can see in the xray view.

shpwyCrtr02.png

Once we were happy with the model, I added a few twist and bend deformations to “pose” him. I also increased the model resolution to around 15,000 quadrangulated polygons so that it would look smooth.

shpwyCrtr04.png

Next, I exported the mesh with the Collada plugin to a format that Shapeways will accept. I uploaded the mesh, chose a material type called “white, strong, & flexible”, and placed my order.

shpwyCrtr05.png

Now, all I have to do is wait for the package — they say it’ll be here in a few days. I’ll post photos once they arrive.

John Edgar Park

John Edgar Park likes to make things and tell people about it. He works in CG animation at DisneyToon Studios and writes for Make, Boing Boing, and other places online and in print. You can find him at jpixl.net and twitter @johnedgarpark — if you like that sort of thing.


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