Converting a Study into a Tangible Model / by Andreas Kopriva

Hello everyone and welcome to today's post where I'll be sharing something a bit different. Today I'm gonna be discussing some potential uses for the results of a variety of studies that one is inevitably going to do as parts of progressing their skill. 

Some time ago I started studying anatomy again so as to better understand the human form and the mechanics behind its motion. I checked a few online tutorials on the matter (Scott Eaton's Anatomy Course seems very promising!) and got started with a variety of sculpts. 

The first I'll be sharing is the torso below which was sculpted in an afternoon. It's the first finished study from reference (though I ended up deviating from the reference a tiny bit) and I'll be working on some more in the near future. 

A few production notes on the above : 

  1.  Everything was done in Zbrush for this one. I started of with a simple ZSphere armature approximating the pose of the reference images used which were placed within Zbrush's Spotlight feature. There's a pretty good tutorial on using references from Eat3D which can be found here. In my case, as this was a quick study, I opted to just have a series of the images proportionally tiled on the left side of the work interface. 
  2. After completing the sculpt, which was done via using a 600k Dynameshed version of the Adaptive Skin generated from the armature, I exported the OBJ file out and imported that into 3ds max to generate an STL for 3d printing. 
  3. To generate the above renders, I simply imported the OBJ as it was into Marmoset Toolbag 2 and applied a simple titanium shader to get a tiny bit of reflectivity and polish

Armed with an STL file, I opened up Cura (Ultimaker's open source slicer software) and opted to 3d print a couple of statuettes which would be painted over. 

I made a 10cm version as a test (approximate printing time around 7hrs at 0.1mm resolution and 50mm/s with a 30% fill density and a raft adhesion type as I was using ABS). After the print came out OK, I decided to make another one which was 15cm tall and took around 35hrs to print. 

I found that something interesting happens once you convert the output of a single study into a tangible product in this manner. Basically opportunities arise where they weren't perceived before, and though this may sound fairly obvious, by introducing a small number of factors after the event, the original plan can turn into something different. 

For example, the above study for me served a singular purpose to begin with : begin learning the fundamental anatomy of a male torso. Practice learned principles such as the asymmetrical nature of the rectus abominalis muscles and the compression of the external obliques depending of gesture. 

But as soon as the model was imported into Cura, and the promise of actual materiality and presence was introduced, more ideas pitched up. Firstly size became a consideration - a larger model can be like a mini model to be placed on the table for future reference, or used for light study purposes (I know this can also be done in the 3d space, but there is something about the immediacy of having the model right there under a lamp). A small model can lead to a product such as a little anatomical keychain or a usb stick sleeve for example. 

Starting line-work on the 10cm model using a black ink pen

Starting line-work on the 10cm model using a black ink pen

When I held the final model in my hands there was a feeling of potential there - how this physical manifestation of a simple study (and a beginner one at that) could be augmented in different ways, such as with the application of different color motifs, or of painted designs. This is what I admire most about 3d printing, despite it still being in a transitional state (in terms of the consumer market at least) - the capabilities and freedom that it offers a creative to explore additional ideas and to test out their concepts through their physical manifestation.

I have gotten into the habit of printing out prototypes of most of the designs I produce these days, primarily due to the fairly low cost, but also to have a physical version which ends up serving as a point of reference  and of seeing progress as my skills develop. Future posts will outline this in more detail.

Until then, take care and feel free to share and comment!