Hollowing Out And Preparing A Sculpture For 3D Printing

3D Printed Tiger

As I walk this road with the technology, I explore ways to make it fit into my work flow as a traditional artist. There always seems to be something lacking in my process of combining these two. At times this is very frustrating. At one point all the CG artists were shouting, “Try Zbrush and Mudbox it is just like sculpting.” It was indeed very similar to sculpting, but when I am sculpting if I push and pull on clay it does not ruin my armature. Back then, a thing called “retopologizing” seemed to be the holy grail- at least for my process. Retoplogizing simply meant taking the underlying mesh and recreating it to be even, wonderful, sculptable quads. I wanted the process to be as simple as pushing a button. Now,  the technology has advanced and at this date and time, retoplogozing is as easy as pushing a button while using Zbrush. I hate having to wait for the technology to catch up with my needs. I cringe when I hear someone say, well if you just use ____ program you could do that. You see,  I resisted having to learn, yet another program and spend countless hours doing something that did not feel “just like sculpting.”

Entering the 3D printing world I have had similar problems with preparing models for printing in 3D. In February 2014  I was asked to lecture at 3D printing World Expo. While there I heard the key note speaker Cydni Tetro, founder and Chief Executive Officer of 3DPlusMe and adviser to Disney on technology commercialization, remind everyone that though 3D printing is cool, it is not easy. I demonstrated this same thing the next day in my lecture.

Concerning preparing your files for 3D printing— I’m waiting for the ease of the technology to catch up to my needs. A case in point is the tiger model created for Grambling State Louisiana. I created this sculpture for Grambling and really wanted to see it printed out as a 3D print. I had to modify the design, which I won’t go into right now, I’ll just say, what works for a 15 foot sculpture does not always translate into a small model.

An 8″  3D print of this sculpture was printed by 3d Rapid Prototyping using a projet 660. At the size shown I am told the costs is about $500. to print. The high cost of this is because it is solid.  Hollowing it out or making a shell of it will make it much cheaper to print.  However, this process of hollowing out is not as easy as it could be. Well, it is not as simple as pressing a the button.   How incredibly excited I was when Rasmus Koch Hansen from the ZBrush forum on Linked in  sent this video created by SteveTalkowski my way. I have yet to try hollowing the sculpture out. I do expect to attempt to hollow the tiger out as soon as possible as I would really like to document the book that I am writing “3D technology in Fine Art and Craft.”  I’ll report back later on this progress.



Bridgette Mongeon is a sculptor, writer, illustrator and educator as well as a public speaker.

Her blog can be found at https://creativesculpture.com.

She is the vice chair of the planning committee for 3DCAMP Houston 2012 and 2013 http://www.3dcamphouston.com

Follow the artists on twitter twitter.com/Sculptorwriter

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