Exclusive 3d printed figure for Tsunacon 2012
Like I did last year, I've made an exclusive 3d printed figure for the 2012 edition of Tsunacon (http://www.tsunacon.nl/), a convention in the Netherlands. The figure is based on artwork made by Roos of Tsuna-chan, the Tsunacon mascot character. This year, instead of just one figure, we went with three variations. The figures were given away to the winners of each of the three competitions at the convention.
In this post I'd like to present a short 'making of', with some additional background information on how everything was created. Newer figures and other work will be appearing on my website, in case you want to see more.
While previously I have printed figures directly in one piece, I have now decided to go with multiple parts instead. This allows me to use multiple different materials, and reduces the risk and cost of production or design faults as well. It also allows to do post processing on a per-part basis. It does give a bit of extra work on the assembly, though, especially with all the small parts such as ribbons.
I'll start out with showing some pictures of the figure.
This is some of the artwork they sent me, on which the figure is based. These were created by Roos (http://roos-vicee.deviantart.com/).
The preview render of the final figure designs.
And here you have all the pieces apart, which is quite a bit of work to get done already in itself. The boolean operations for cutting off the body pieces from the clothing don't always behave nicely. The small attributes are all put together on a sprue like thing to avoid giving the printer operators too much work in figuring out all of the ribbons.
After sending everything to the 3D print supplier, Shapeways in this case, after a week or two everything arrives in a nice and large box.
My working desk has a knife, toothpicks, and there are also paperclips hidden somewhere. The dremel is used to slightly reduce sandyness of the color prints.
The color prints are printed on a ZCorp machine, Shapeways calls this material Full Color Sandstone (or FCS). When they arrive they feel very much like sandpaper, after smoothing them up slightly with the dremel they feel softer, but still keep their slightly rough look.
Fittings have to be adjusted manually because the roughness and printing direction makes pin an hole sizes entirely unpredictable.
In the end everything fits nicely, and stays well together.
And the bottom part of the first figure is ready.
For the top part, the ribbons have to be cut off the sprue, and pins have to be slightly adjusted to fit as well. Paperclips are used to make sure the holes in the clothing are large enough to fit the ribbon pins.
Putting both parts together to see if that fits as well. The clothes are printed in a different material than the body, this is what Shapeways calls White Strong & Flexible (or WSF for short); it is basically a Nylon.
And now with the skirt added. This is WSF as well, but has been dyed in red, just like the ribbons. One of the reasons for using WSF instead of FCS for the clothing, is that I can have a minimum thickness of 1mm instead of 3mm, which looks much better on the clothing, saves on the material, and it's somewhat flexible too. But, there's no hair yet!
Checking if the hair fits on one of the spare head pieces. I had to manually 'adjust' some of the internals, but it turned out to fit on perfectly as it should eventually.
For painting the hair, I first spray a layer of white primer. Then let it dry for a day.
Then the next day I spray a layer of matte brown colored paint, and finish it a day later with matte alkyd based varnish. To not have the roughness, I could've had this part polished, but due to the thin hair ends this could've caused failures delays in production, which would've been a problem for getting everything done in time; there have also been reports of some paints not reacting well on the polished version of this material, so it would've had some risk in that way as well.
After confirming everything goes fine for one of the figures, I start finishing up everything, and assemble the other two figures as well. Some parts, such as this ribbon are glued together to the main part. The toothpics come in handy for this.
The ribbons are placed on all of the hair pieces. This is slightly tricky at first because I had to figure out which ribbon was for which side, and in which direction it had to be placed; that's when we have to look back at the 3d model. Some of the differences are very subtle.
Smoothing up all of the color parts slightly using the dremel.
Toothpick is useful for making sure the holes are large enough.
Nice socks, right?
There also needs to be a fancy looking figure base, of course. This part is made by hand. Cutting wood into pieces of the same length.
Putting everything together. All the nails have to be checked manually if their length doesn't exceed the thickness of the base, quite a lot of them are larger than their specified length.
And this one is painted.
Here are some more pictures, I think you'll like.
While still not perfect yet, 3d printing can already give very nice looking results. I personally do like the texture of the WSF for clothing, although it might still be interesting to see how that turns out polished as well. The hair, of course, would get quite a nice touch if it'd be polished up; for that I still need to run some tests. But finally, let me show you a first test of what I am working on right now for quality improvements, in the next picture. Compare.
This is the full color material, used for the body parts, with some post processing. I'll be experimenting with this on a new complete figurine, as well, soon.
One of the figures in the hands of one of the competition winners at Tsunacon 2012.
One of the doujinshi from the dealerroom at Tsunacon 2012.
Feel free to ask more detailed questions on the process.