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Three of Vignone's prints
These brilliant figures are all printed on a Form 1
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The digital model of Robert's first 3D print
This spooky model was to be his first attempt on the Form 1...
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For your first print this ain't bad!
Of the many applications of 3D printing one that has increasingly found a home on the desktops of digital artists across the globe is model making. With the addition of new 3D Printing tools added into popular digital model creation software like Blender and ZBrush the work of CGI animators and computer game visuals, which would traditionally have remained virtual, can now be made physical.
One such advocate of this new tool is Robert Vignone, whose impressive C.V. includes Hellboy, Avatar and Battle Los Angeles. Vignone is currently the head animator on the sure-fire Dreamworks smash hit How to Train Your Dragon 2, he is also a 3D Print enthusiast and has set up the website Mold3D – a 3D printing resource for artists.
Personalize spoke to Vignone about his passion for 3D printing with his Form 1 and Character design.
When did you first decide that 3D printing was for you and what made you chose a Form 1?
I think it must be every digital artist’s dream to create something on the computer and have it become tangible almost instantly. It was 2009 when I had my first model 3D printed by a 3rd party company on a very high-end machine. Once I held the model, I couldn’t wait for the day that I get to create that in my own home.
Fast forward to the end of 2012, I came across the Formlabs Kickstarter Project and their campaign sold me. At the time I knew very little about the technology. However, I could tell from their engineering and build quality that it was going to be a great product. There were many other printers out there, especially FFF 3D Printers that I have a great appreciation for. I actually just bought a MakerBot Replicator Gen5 to complement my Form1. The artist in me felt it was more important to spend time sculpting than tinkering with my printer. So one of the key selling points at the time for me was that the Form1 had so few moving parts. It has a non-intrusive design that is highly functional in addition to a decent build volume. Now, in 2014, I see so many other SLA 3D printers coming to market and it will be very interesting to see how the industry evolves now that these technologies are getting into the consumers’ hands.
How has 3D printing become part of the working process as a digital artist?
I believe the relationship between artists and 3D printing is still in its infancy. Very few artists currently have 3D printers or incorporate the technology into their workflow. But that is quickly changing and soon I believe it will be an integral part of most digital artists’ toolset. 3D printing almost has two sides to it. There is the practical 3D print and the artistic 3D print. There has been mainstream adoption of (mostly FFF) 3D printers to print out all kinds of functional items. The artistic side of 3D prints go from abstract designs to beautiful art pieces. I think you’re going to see more and more artists taking advantage of the ability to iterate, solve problems and realize their ideas in the physical world faster than traditional methods would typically allow.
Approximately how much time are you saving in the design process as opposed to traditional model making methods?
I’m saving time with 3D printing in some ways, but not in others. The 3D printing process is still very slow in comparison to the speed at which a typical digital artist operates. The 3D printer speeds will inevitably be faster in upcoming years, but our standard of quality will also increase to push the technology to its limits. So although 3D printing may not always be faster than traditional sculpting methods for each asset, a clear advantage of the digital-to-3D print process is the ability for artist to iterate and tweak their designs faster and more effectively than what traditional methods would normally allow. For example, re-posing a model in order to print is easy on the computer, but it will take a lot of effort to repose a model made of clay. This adaptability saves time, money, and waste in the long run for the entire project.
After working with the Form 1 for some time now do you have any hints or tips to share?
I could probably talk forever about tips and tricks using the Form1 printer. A lot of these tips and tricks are available for free at our Mold3D YouTube channel. A few important tips would be:
1. Make sure your mesh is really tidy. We all know to make it water tight, but one thing to look out for are complex overhangs. Those things can really cause issues if they are not properly supported. Sometimes, even automatic supports wont catch them and they may collapse while printing.
2. Orient your models in a way that the shorter supports are facing the peeling side of the tray. This helps a lot with those bigger items!
3. Don’t be afraid to over-support your model. The more secure your model is to the base, the less it will move during the peeling process and thus the fewer layer lines you should have.
Tell us a little about Mold 3D, why you think it is needed and who it is for?
There are many 3D printing websites out there that highlight all aspects of the 3D printing industry. Because my background is Visual Effects and Feature Animation, I felt the resources for 3D printing as an artistic tool was lacking. I wanted to build a place that would showcase all the amazing 3D printed art that people are making. My background also has roots in traditional sculpture, so I see this as a way to bridge the communities of traditional and 3D artists. Both groups are now learning a lot about each other’s craft and how they can complement each other.
We spoke to Jason Lopes of Legacy Effects recently and he discussed how 3D printing effects now can be a complete package, from prototyping models, manufacturing parts for films right through to marketing and merchandising? Do you subscribe to this theory?
I 100% agree. 3D printing is such a fantastic tool and is virtually limitless in its potential applications Want to make a stop-motion film? Your entire movie set and characters can be 3d printed. Want to make a toy line? You can 3D print out your ideas within hours. Need some basic or advance medical supplies? There is a robotic arm available to download. It is all there. In my opinion, the main thing currently keeping the 3D printing industry back is the price point of reliable, high-detail, multi-color and multi-material 3D printers. I believe that, soon, everyone will have the ability to make amazing things in their own homes or workplaces at a reasonable price. The remaining challenge for the average user may be mastering the design and creation tools.
Would you say that a high-resolution printer has now become an essential tool in a 3D artist’s kit now?
It certainly can be. If one works in an industry that demands a quick turnaround time of realized ideas, then absolutely. Legacy Effects is a perfect example of a studio using 3D Printing as an innovative way to produce better visuals for feature films. While 3D printing on the large scale is not exactly cheap, what you can do in a short amount of time with the technology is just amazing. For the artist whose work largely remains in the digital format, it is not an essential tool yet. That said there is not a single 3d artist I know that doesn’t want to have a 3D printer to complement their artistry.