Saturday, 30 March 2013


I decided to have a go at reproducing the pose in Jian Xu's picture shown at the bottom of my last post. Tricky parts included getting the fingers into the correct position, particularly since it seemed to push the right elbow into odd places, and dealing with the deep mesh overlap where calves met thighs and thighs met trunk.

I'm still struggling to get good quality solid hair and I don't always like the models looking bald! This time I used Sculptris to fashion a short hair style starting from a simple sphere. It's not great but it kind of works.

Here is the cleaned up version in Blender beside the reference picture.

Metamorphosis looked beautiful in the translucent blue but, being made of PLA, I couldn't use the acetone vapor bath to smooth the surface. PLA isn't soluble in acetone. I knew that I wanted to have a smooth surface on Curl, so I thought I would try printing a copy in black ABS.

My first attempt was sliced in Slic3r 0.98 but again I was disappointed with the way it generates support structures, so I abandoned that print and sliced again in Kisslicer. This version looked much more promising and I have learned that the initial raft is an indispensable feature for supporting this type of model.

Here is the model on the print bed and in close up, showing the support structures (under LED lighting).

Here is the bottom section of the support material after it was peeled away from the model. I am still impressed with how well the support separates from the model given that they are both made of the same material.

And here is the final version after processing in acetone vapor.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Computer Graphics Society

My latest search for ideas for a new sculpture led me to the CG Society website where I found some great art.
The first picture I found was by Edward McEvenue and looks like a 3D rendering but, as the artist's own website reveals, it is actually a painting derived from an original image here.

The second picture by Jian Xu was modelled in 3DSMax and once again I liked the unusual position of the limbs and the head presenting some beautiful curves which should prove quite challenging to reproduce.

Sunday, 17 March 2013


This weekend I created a new sculpture based on the photo of Edward Watson performing in Kafka's The Metamorphosis. I tried to reproduce the pose as accurately as possible and was very pleased with the result.

 I had hoped to print the sculpture without turning on the automatic support feature in the slicing software, but as soon as I had finished posing the model it was clear that this would not be possible. As well as the shallow slopes on the thigh and arm, there were points, on the tip of the chin and the underside of the breasts, that had nothing beneath them. 

I used Kisslicer to turn the STL model into printer instructions and enabled medium support. This time I decided to try printing at 150 micron resolution to reduce the visibility of the layers. I also wanted to find out how well the support material could be removed from a PLA print so I used a translucent blue filament for the 12 hour print.

The support material was more difficult to remove from PLA than with the grey ABS, but after a bit of work it came away surprisingly cleanly.
Here is a quick video of the model on a turntable to show it from all angles.

And here are a few photos.

Saturday, 16 March 2013


As impressed as I was with the success of removing support material from my 'Sascha' prints (both ABS and PLA plastics worked surprisingly well), I am still drawn to the challenge of finding poses for sculptures that will print well without the need for any support at all.
I searched a few glamour and comic art sites and came up with these two examples of the kind of thing that might work quite well.

However, they are both rather similar to previous models and both have the problem of the horizontal right arm which is going to be difficult to print without support.
Then I saw this picture in the arts section of the local free paper and was struck both by the beauty of the pose and the potential opportunity for printing.

I think it looks like a great challenge so I think I'm going to try this one next.

Sunday, 3 March 2013


The surface appearance of a Fused Filament Fabrication 3D print is determined by a number of factors.

  • Size of the print - larger prints will show more detail with a high resolution STL file
  • Height of each printed layer - at 0.1 mm and below the layers become much less visible
  • Extrusion temperature - some plastics become duller when printed hotter

After the print is completed there are some 'post-processing' techniques that can be used alter the finish.

Cosmo Wenman is making great progress with his artificially aged bronze statues and is planning to release a range of finish materials.

PLA can be smoothed with a hot air gun although there is a danger of warping the model if the temperature is allowed to get too high.

Dipping the model in an acetone bath can work well for ABS.

The newest technique was recently described by Spacexula in this YouTube video and involves placing the model in a heated chamber with a small quantity of acetone which then vaporises and coats the surfaces. The effect looked dramatic so I decided to give it a try.

Here are the results of my first two attempts.

The surface is now smooth and shiny even though it is completely dry and hard to the touch.