The Never Ending Hunt for Reference

June 13, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

P. Corntum print 1080p A shortage of inspiration has never been a problem for me. 

The natural world provides all kinds of fodder for the imagination. What I can't find I do my best to make.

Though I love sculpting reference traditionally, I also enjoy finding or creating digital reference. Lately my focus has been on processing CT-scans into models which can be sent to a 3D printer. Pre-made surface models are available and are often very cool, but sacrifice detail in favor of a more web-friendly file size.

Not being concerned with file size, I've been experimenting with different methods of generating models which print well and maintain most of the surface detail of the original scans. 

Physical integrity isn't an issue with a 3D model when you want to make a scientifically accurate image, but printing a model can be tougher. Most clean bone obscures a catacomb of internal voids. Sections of marrow or spongy bone create walls too thin for a 3D printer to manage. 3D printers ignore these areas - which means a you end up with holes and maybe a mass of spaghetti-like filament draping your printed model.

The key is to get rid of these chambers without obliterating the surface detail.

A large part of my process involves finding surface portals to interior voids and plugging them in visually unobtrusive ways. This disconnects those interior caverns and lets me remove them, making the model more solid and, hopefully, 3D-Printable.

P-cornutum-slicesP-cornutum-slices

Three of the 348 cross sections, or slices, which informed the Texas Horned Lizard file. My favorite is the "Grinning drunken cyclops" on the right. 

Notice that most of the bones have a white outline, but a grayer interior. Those gray areas are the voids I'm trying to eliminate.

 

The video above shows a model generated by processing CT scans from 2004. The animal, a Texas Horned Lizard, is small enough to sit in your hand. Due to the low resolution of the files there's a lot of finer detail missing. Still, it makes for a model which is visually striking for it's architectural dependability. Even in it's relatively lumpy state it exhibits a structural perfection which puts the most elaborate flying buttresses shame.

 

For anyone interested, I'm printing using a .8 nozzle on this "XL" version in order to get larger size in a reasonable amount of time. The other skulls were printed using a .25 nozzle for the smallest and a .4 for the mid-sized version.  The actual printing process for the large skull shown in the video, took about 14 hours. Printing was done on an Ultimaker 2+ Extended using Protoparadigm's light grey filament.

If you're interested in exploring on your own, Digimorph.org is a great site to investigate. The CT scans I used to generate this file are here.

 

 

 

 


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