A special Santa gave me 3d printer for Christmas and I spent hours on thingiverse, 3DOcean, CgTrader and Shapeways to name a few. My livingroom quickly filled up with creepy little plastic figurines.
The 3d jointed articulated items fascinated me, especially if they could be printed as one piece. Because of the lack of selection, I decided I would create my own and hopefully the 3d printing community would embrace my efforts.
When I first started 3D modeling I had no clue where to start. Hopefully I can save newbies, like myself, hours of frustration by telling them what I learned.
First thing I learned is that I would not become a 3d modeling expert overnight. I outlined what I wanted and posted it as a job on elance. My goal was to expedite my learning while getting a product completed in a couple weeks. I hired multiple designers for the same project. They each tackled the project in different ways because building a jointed-doll-all-in-one piece was unchartered territory. It required dozens of revisions, tweaks and me printing prototypes endlessly for months. I finally took what worked best from each individual designer and Frankenstein’ed it into the perfect puppy.
While my outsourced designer was sending me versions I was trying to master the tools I needed to validate the changes and ensure they printed correctly.
These were the tools I used the most:
A free, introductory digital sculpting tool, a great stepping stone for digital sculptors, created by the makers of Zbrush.
- Autodesk Maya
A massive, complete suite of tools for professional all aspects of 3D design including modeling, rigging, dynamics and animation. Free for one year for educational use
- 123dapp MeshMixer – My Favorite 3d modeling tool. I use this for merging models, cutting my model in half or viewing it like an x-ray. It has sculpting tools too but the interface is more complex than sculptris.
- MeshLab – Great for helping you reduce the number of polygons in your model without compromising the design. This also reduces your files sizes which can get pretty big. Shapeways has a great tutorial on polygon reduction using meshlab.
- Netfabb Online – I send my models here when they look red on my 3D printing software. Most of the time it fixes everything without breaking anything.