There are plenty of 3D models available for free on the Internet that can lend a hand in a creative process of creation of a three-dimensional figure. However, sometimes nothing can really fit your needs and if you can't find anything suitable you should design your own. Today, 3D-Ace is going to talk about difficulties of creating a complex customizable model and give you some inside information about sculpting of such 3D objects.
One conventional challenge of designing models that can be customized is making sure that different removable parts which transform the figure will be easily replaceable.
For instance, if you design a figure of a monster for some game and this monster has a couple of alternate heads with various emotion on its face and with or without head protection, a spare set of hands with different weapons, a removable armor or clothing. What then? Which path to choose in order to achieve better results in 3D modeling and sculpting so that all parts can be replaced with no problem?
In that case, you can use some accessories like belt, hat, glasses, etc. as a bridge section that allows them to be removed quickly. For replaceable parts like head, body, arms, and legs you should make cuts at the joints and place keys. The cuts for a figure of human and animals should be made according to the physiology in the areas where head, limbs and tail are connected to the body. In addition, these cuts are necessary for the printing process. Below you can find a few tips and advice about sculpting a comprehensive customizable model for 3D printing.
#1 Make models eye-catching, but keep them realistic
In order to keep every fine detail accurate, it's better to sculpt as many parts and details as possible even if you don't know for sure yet that these elements will be printed. However, you also should remember that it's critical to keep all realistic. Collect references and keep them in mind. Besides, set yourself a realistic deadline and don't waste time on the details that definitely won't be printed if you have narrow time limits.
#2 Keep models elastic and resistant
Another useful tip - minify the model parts to make sure everything can be printed with no difficulties and inaccuracies. While you do this you can fill the holes and undercuts that can affect the casting process and make it troublesome. For instance, human or animal hair strings that can be too thin to print should be combined with nearby strands to form a more stable bundle or moved closer to another area so printing will no longer be a trouble. One more thing to do at this step is to check if there are any open meshes. Pay special attention to clothing and sleeves, trouser legs, shorts and skirts in particular.
#3 Check the scale
Final scaling is a significant part of the minifying process since it's important to sculpture the character according to 3D printing specifications. Some styles tolerate a lot of simplifications so scale won't allow intensive itemisation. That's why it would be helpful to do so-called 'test prints' if it's possible from the financial side of the project and resource availability. If there are any troubles determining scale, you can try to create cubes to measure the scale or any piece of geometry that you can take as your real world reference.
#4 Locate keys and cuts at the right place
As we’ve mentioned before, you should pay special attention to the places where you are planning to make cuts. They should follow the physiological sense so you can use natural transitions on the character model. You can take clothing separations, joints, muscle definition lines, a place where body parts connect as a point to make cuts. On the other hand, a perfect option is to avoid making seams and cuts in places where they will be too visible after putting together. After you choose places where you are going to place the cuts and keys, you can use accessories or clothes elements to disguise the seams. The final model should look attractive for the end consumers after assembling.
#5 Ask vendors for advice
Do not neglect the consultations with clients and vendors about the best place to make the cuts and keys. If you work for a client, he or she may already have a plan where to locate these seams. If it's an individual project you can ask vendors for the advice. Some companies also conduct research to determine the best place for cuts and keys so it will be beneficial for the molding process. In addition, they can give you some useful tips for the sculpting process for a certain 3D printer.
The tip-offs above can help 3D artists in the complicated process of sculpting for 3D printing. If you feel confident enough to do the sculpting part yourself, we hope you can apply this inside information to sculpt a perfect 3D model. For those who need help in this uneasy process, the 3D-Ace team is ready to become your reliable and solid partner in sculpting a custom 3D character.