6 months, 4 weeks ago
Weekend time, and therefore time for the next look into our Etsy store!
Our latest addition to our range of 3D designs is the option to have us custom-design your very own 3D printed anime-style avatar, and so far they’re getting a lot of attention with a lot of people thinking they’re really cute. But how do we make them? Well, that’s what we’re going to go through today, step by step!
STEP 1 – DESIGN THE DIGITAL VERSION
For illustrative purposes I’ll use the latest avatar which I’ve just finished, made for my long-time friend and collaborator on musical designs, Philip Ockelford (musician, luthier, tutor and all-round musical Jedi Master). We’ll get onto our music-related designs sometime very soon…
The first step is, of course, to turn the person in question into a digitally-designed avatar. Usually this would be from a photo supplied by the customer and a brief rundown of the personality of the person in question, as well as a description of their favourite pass-times etc (but in this case that wasn’t really necessary as I’ve known Phil for a long time and I know him quite well). When the avatar is finished then I’d okay it with the customer, and when they’re happy I’d proceed to the next stage
STEP 2 – GENERATE A CAD DRAWING OF THE AVATAR
Now the real work begins. The avatar is transferred into our CAD package and traced to start generating the 3D printed version. This is the stage where we can add little extras, if the customer has ordered them; in this case Phil’s avatar is getting the works, a custom-designed stand and a small laser-engraved plaque (in this case we’ve already got the plaque designed, we just need to print it and engrave it). Here we see the beginnings of the stand, an amp to which the model will be attached, and this will be mated to a baseplate made from Phil’s personal logo. For other customers it could be giving them a football shirt or replicating as best as possible the sort of jewellery they wear, or maybe adding a pet/car/etc. When the CAD drawing is all finished it’s onto the next stage:
STEP 3 – CREATE THE FINAL AVATAR FROM THE CAD DRAWING
This stage can take a while, but with the original avatar drawing to hand it’s not terribly difficult. It’s a matter of extruding each section of the drawing into the individually coloured 3D printable components. This will include everything which will eventually need printing; the avatar itself, the stand and any other little additions (not pictured in this case, but you’ll see them in the final result). These sections are saved into separate files (known as STL or stereolithographic files) which are then processed through the printer’s software to generate the final 3D printer files (called G-Code, or Z-Code in the case of the Zortrax printers I use). These files are saved onto the printer’s memory cards, and then we come to the longest part; the actual 3D printing.
STEP 4 – 3D PRINT THE AVATAR’S COMPONENTS
Definitely the longest part (depending on the complexity of the model and the number of colours being used). In this case the longest part to print is the black baseplate onto which the other parts will be assembled, with all the other parts being printed sequentially. It’s best at this point to make a list to make sure I remember to print everything, then I set to printing. Thankfully I have two printers which of course cuts production time down (and hopefully, with your support, in the future I’ll make more equipment to make it even better!).
Then we come to the fun part (well, sort of); putting it all together
STEP 5 – ASSEMBLE THE AVATAR
Then we put it all together! This involves a lot of superglue, needle-files, scalpel blades, sandpaper and emery boards and needs a lot of light so I can keep track of all those tiny little pieces. You can see in the video I used my head torch to light things up; normally I’d use my custom-designed light-arch to make sure everything was properly lit but in this case that would have obstructed the view of the camera. So it was time to go old-school! I then sand it down, fill the tiny holes with photopolymer resin and cure them with a UV torch.
When that’s all done, we move on to….
STEP 6 – ASSEMBLE THE STAND & EXTRAS
The final phase! Then it’s just a small matter of doing the final assembly on the stand, laser-engraving and assembling the plaque and then putting it all together. This is done with Epoxy resin to make it a little more solid, then the whole thing is left in a warm place to cure
Then we’re done!
The avatar is now finished and ready for delivery to the customer!
So now you know exactly what it takes to make a whole new you (or someone you know, if you’re ordering an avatar of a friend or loved one as a gift or for yourself). I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing this latest little peek behind the curtain into exactly what’s involved in bringing you fun designs to make your life better. If you’d like to know more you’re always very welcome to send a message!