Reflection ♯8: Project “3D Printing”

The topic for the last week was “3D printing”. We had to make a 3D model and prepare it to be printed in a 3D printing machine. In the classroom we had a presentation of a functional and led illuminated Iron Man helmet printed on a 3D machine as an example of one of its uses, in this case to make films props. It also came a University member of the 3D printing department to make a presentation of the several types of 3D printers that the university have at our disposal and the specifications needed to print a 3D model on a 3D printer (STL file, minimum thickness of 2mm, hollow inside, maximum size). After the presentation we went to the 3D printing studio where we saw the 3D printers, several 3d printed examples and the different possible materials that can be used.

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As this project was very open and It was all about modelling I decided to focus on learning properly how to model on Zbrush and using the Dynamesh tool since it was necessary to make proper models. I had already issues in previous projects due to have not enough knowledge about this programme .

I started learning through a series of tutorials named “Introduction to Zbrush 4R2” made by Ryan Kingslien, founder of Zbrush Workshops spending two-three days watching this tutorials (around 30 hours of videos).



Meanwhile, I was thinking what type of model I should do, a famous comic or videogame character or a mythological creature.

Some references from Google Images about several famous characters I was thinking to do as 3D printable model:

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As always I loved to draw dragons, I finally decided to do a bust of one. I took my own drawings as reference and selected the design I liked the most.

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I also looked for some reference of dragons on Google Images but I already liked my own drawing as they were so I didn’t make any change to them based on others work.

Other artists’ work on dragons:

After learning how to use Dynamesh, I really started to enjoy the process of sculpting in Zbrush. Finally, I could do what I had in my head and projected it on my model. Nevertheless, there were some issues with Dynamesh. Dynamesh is a tool that redistributes the polygons on the surface of the model depending on the resolution chosen. As you go up in detail is recommended increasing the amount of resolution. It is great when you do big deformations or add shapes. Nevertheless, it tends to blur or even wipe out the detail and texture having to retouch the detail each time you use it in order to not lose more and more detail each time. Alongside Dynamesh, I also used different brushes and techniques that I learned on the tutorials like creating teeth or the neck of the dragon with the Curvetube brush, cut surfaces with the Slicecurve brush or masking surfaces. I started by doing the skull of the dragon because the head was the most important and detailed part, then the jaw and finally the neck. After having the main shape, I started to add details like the teeth, horns and scales. Arrived to a point where I can’t achieve more detail with Dynamesh, I started then to subdivide the mesh, thing that  I used to use from the beginning of the process forcing the limits of the programme and my computer resources limiting the quantity of detail I could get.

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After having the model finished, I added a base to the model and started to adjust the model to print. First, I  I scaled the model to a 100mm size (the high of a standard mug that was the recommended size for the printing) then I created a reference image of a 100x100mm square on Photoshop with a 98x98mm centred on it so I knew the thickness that the model should had to have between the exterior and the interior of the shell then, I used the deflation tool and the move brush over a copy of the model till adjust it to the 2mm reference. One of the problems I had not into account was that, not only the shell had to have 2mm thick but also, the thinner part of any part of the model should be 2mm. Therefore, I used the inflate tool to try to fix the model but, as the fangs have a cone shape it was impossible to maintain that shape because it ends into a point. I liked the look the fangs I had at the beginning but, as it wouldn’t print properly, I also used the inflate brush on them.

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For the presentation, I made the postproduction using Premier 2015 (Adobe) using the videos of a turn around of the model in Zbrush and  a recording of the skyfolding process using Preform (Form Labs) with the “Main Theme” of Baldur’s Gate (Bioware, 1998) as background:



I still have to ask to the 3D printing department if my model is a viable model to be printed but, I should have chosen a better type of model to do from the start due to the 2 mm thickness printing requirements. I imagine that the best option should have been a rounded shape without borders or pointed protrusions (like fangs or horns) for example a bust of a bold human or a rounded cartoon character. Nevertheless, as my aim in this project was learning as much Zbrush modelling as I could and understand the use of Dynamesh till the point to have certain control on the model’s resolution, I think I have accomplished my objective. Of course I have still a lot of things on Zbrush to learn but understanding the use of Dynamesh has been a great step in the good direction.



ZBrushWorkshops (n.d.) [Online]. Available from: < > [Accessed 13/11/2016].

Ryan Kingslien (n.d.) ZBrush 4R2 Tip # 1: DynaMesh / Remesh [Online video]. Available from: < > [Accessed 13/11/2016].

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