Sunday, 1 December 2013

Marble mashup

At last, I feel inspired to start work on a new piece. I've continued to collect photos of interesting nude poses on my Pinterest page and recently found a couple of pictures that I think might work well together.

The first piece is a marble sculpture by Cicero D'Avila. The torso and legs will prove an interesting challenge to reproduce, but the hands are not ideally placed for 3D printing because of the way the fingers are pointing down.

The second picture was a recent find which I think I can use to create the arm pose for my new design. I couldn't find information about the photographer - if you know, please pass the details on and I'll credit them.

Creating the pose wasn't too difficult and took me only a couple of hours. Project Miller is a fantastic new tool in my toolkit which hugely simplifies the process of making a 3D object printable. It can automatically wrap the model in a single manifold mesh which eliminates all of the problems with hair, eyes, teeth and folded limbs, at a single stroke.

I then took the raw model into Blender and began the process of sculpting in some additional details in the hair. 

The next step was to find the best way of slicing and supporting the model ready for 3D printing. this time I decided to give Cura a try. Cura is an extremely fast slicer written by David Braam of Ultimaker. When I'm evaluating a sliced model that needs support, I look for the right amount of support material with an adequate gap between the support and the model so that it will break away with the minimum of effort.

My first attempt at printing this model, which I have named Cicero for convenience, used a light grey PLA and took over 8 hours to print. The lower half started well but sadly the head and arms are not as smooth and seem covered in a regular indentation. The pose looks great though and is definitely one I would consider using again.


  1. I am just starting to learn how to use 3D software, with my goal to create figures like the ones that you have created. Can you possibly give some advice on how you used Blender? or other software to create, how should one start?

    Thanks, your work is admirable.

    1. Hi David
      Thank you for your kind comments and for taking the time to write.
      I started using Blender about 6 years ago, initially very slowly and just for basic shapes, and then gradually building up my skill level until I got to the point where I am comfortable with the interface and a selection of keyboard shortcuts that allow me to work quickly and be productive. I'm not an artist and I don't claim to create my models from scratch. I do, however, have a pretty good understanding of functional anatomy and understand how to use 3D character modelling software to generate realistic poses. I then export these into various packages for further manipulation and editing.
      Elsewhere in this blog you will discover descriptions of some of the issues I have had to address. Fixing broken meshes, deleting internal components such as teeth and tongue, dealing with overlapping areas when limbs are folded, are all examples of problems that need to be repaired with a tool like Blender before the model will be printable. Learn how to select groups of vertices and hide and unhide them. Pick a single vertex and the click Ctrl-L to select all linked vertices. Ctrl-Shift-Alt M selects all non-manifold vertices and shows you where there is work to be done.
      Having said that, recent improvements to the slicing programs like Slic3r and Cura are making less than perfect meshes quite printable, so the task is definitely getting easier. Also worth checking out is Project Miller which looks like a very useful tool.
      Good luck.