Thursday, June 20, 2013

Charles Darwin Mask, Zbrush Model, Makerbot Print

I purchased my MakerBot Replicator 2 for the express purpose of it printing sculpture. In my researching the machine, I looked high and low for examples of printed sculpture spanning a large variety of historical genres. At first, I found unsurprisingly little but, about a year ago Thingaverse started to exhibit models that were derived from photogrammetery. For those of you whom are unfamiliar with the term, photogrammetery is a technology that builds 3d models by stitching a serious of relative photos together through a process of identifying common features and land marks within the photos and creating an algorithm that proportionally joins all of the photos into a 3d model. In other words, if you take a bunch of photos of something, there are programs such as Auto Desk's 123d Catch, that will turn it into sculpture. It's really that simple. It's an amazing way to capture gross geometry but, being photography based, shadows and reflections often confuse the process and much of the details often become unrecognizable lumps and bumps. The models can however be post processed and cleaned up quite nicely. The point is that I finally found examples of classical sculpture printed out by a Makerbot and knew by that, it would suite my intended purposes for the machine.

 For this rendition of Charles Darwin, I basically sliced the face and beard off of the bust that I had created in Zbrush. I decimated the polygon count to about a quarter of a million and brought it into MakerWare as an .stl file. I scaled the model for the maximum size and set resolution to high. The print is 10.5 inches high and 6 inches across. It took 19 hours and 43 minutes to print. To date this is one of the most interesting prints that I've pulled off of the machine. It stands as a great example of what the MakerBot is capable of. While the print is not without striation, a surprising amount of subtle nuance has made it through in the way of wrinkles and skin textures. It's a great proof of concept. I see by this that the machine could create life sized busts. My guess is that a life sized Charles Darwin bust could be printed in 8 sections and would probably require 150 hours of printing.

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