Mixed Media Art and 3D Printing
The most affordable materials used in 3D printing include sintered nylon, photo-setting resin, PLA and ABS plastics. Straight out of the printer they have a surface finish which is very refined and artificial. Sometimes this suits the artwork but I love surfaces with rustic character and an interesting patina. So I try to include as many materials as possible in my mixed media art and jewelry.
Copper and imitation Gold leaf can be treated with certain agents like strong vinegar or Liver of Sulphur to produce beautiful patinas. There are also a wonderful diversity of paints and painting techniques available, for instance water colour paints or dry brushing.
Of course, by definition, mixed media art includes any other materials an artist finds interesting. I particularly like semiprecious stone, glass, textiles and wire.
Blender 3D is a free and open source 3D computer graphics software suite. It supports all areas of Digital Art – modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking, even video editing and game creation.
I used Blender 3D to draw this rough model of a mid-sixties Vauxhall Viva. It took about an hour. To make the model suitable for 3D printing would require many more hours of work. The walls of every part must be given the correct thickness, real world physics needs to be considered, and hundreds of faults in the mesh repaired.
Blender is my primary software tool in the creation of digital art and my 3D printable models. Blender is not a “work it out as you go” graphics program such as Sketchup (formerly “Google Sketchup”). It takes a few weeks of persistence to start to get the hang of it. Nonetheless the effort is worth it. The software is a labyrinth of tools, functions and screens, and caters for anything a digital animator or artist might want to do. That said, a learner needs only the fundamentals to create wonderful art and digital models.
I use Shapeways 3D printing service for most of my models. There are other printing services around and diverse 3D printing technologies have been developed using all manner of materials.
So far I’ve printed models in laser sintered nylon, coloured plaster and glazed ceramic. I’ve found that the laser sintered nylon material, printed using SLS technology (selective laser sintering) is extremely strong, paintable and able to produce very fine detail. This is the material I use for most of my models.
MakeHuman is a free and open source software to create realistic 3d humans for:
- Blender 3D modeling
The artist is able to adjust loads of body type and skin tone variables until a satisfactory human figure is achieved. The digital model file can then be imported into a suitable 3D program such as Blender and modified. One again, much additional work is required to achieve a 3D printable model.
I used MakeHuman to model this elderly gentleman. It took about half an hour.