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Robots - 3d modeling

Projects using digital modelling and 3D printing

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Robots - 3d modeling

Postby Malika » Wed Dec 04, 2013 7:00 am

Once again I got inspired into doing something else! This time I blame it on this. For a while now I've been tempted to design a bunch of robots and sell them on Shapeways. This would be a side project of a sorts: no big narrative (as in storyline), nothing too dark/serious. It's primarily a fun and light hearted thing. I want the robots to have something scrapyard-like to them, but also something rather cute, almost cartoony...

I've started working on one, there will be the usual challenges:
1) how do I keep the printing costs as low as possible?
2) how far can I go with the detailing?

Here an early WIP:
Image

Legs still need to be added and then I need to go through some additional details. I'd imagine the complete model to stand at about 4-5 centimeters.
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Re: Robots - 3d modeling

Postby Malika » Thu Dec 05, 2013 6:57 am

So I continued working on this little fellow. It's almost done, but I'm not really happy about the feet and legs yet. Any suggestions?

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Re: Robots - 3d modeling

Postby mangozac » Thu Dec 05, 2013 8:08 am

That diorama is stunningly beautiful. I especially love the tools, cables and test equipment!

For some inspiration in a similar style check out Walter Pezzali: http://futuristicrobots.blog.fc2.com/

Your progress so far looks good, but I'm still dubious about the overall level of detail for the size you're planning. 40-50mm in height I'd expect a lot more detail than you have. One of the problems with many 3D models is that they lack a "layered" effect. You want to make sure it looks like it's composed of layers of metal (endoskeleton - mechanics - "skin" panels) rather than just blocky shapes merged together.
Oh yeah I can make that....
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Re: Robots - 3d modeling

Postby Malika » Thu Dec 05, 2013 9:50 am

I know what you mean. I notice most of the 'details' I've been adding are surface things, which is entering the 0.2 and 0.1mm territory, which will be difficult with printing. However, the model currently looks rather bland.

Your suggestion of the layered effect is very interesting. I am tempted to re-design this fellow and really go for that approach, so build a skeleton and some mechanics on it, then give it a casing.
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Re: Robots - 3d modeling

Postby mangozac » Fri Dec 06, 2013 8:25 am

I do think the layered approach would make all the difference ;)
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Re: Robots - 3d modeling

Postby Malika » Fri Dec 06, 2013 5:59 pm

Me too! It will make the robot actually look convincing! If I'd also separate the layers as different components (at least in the model, perhaps not in the print), I could be able to print separate endoskeletons, mechanics, and skin panels. If one would ever want to make a repair or damaged style diorama or play with that idea. :)
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Re: Robots - 3d modeling

Postby Fleafa » Fri Dec 06, 2013 10:14 pm

One of the things it pays to bear in mind with any sculpting/modelling is the three main layers of detail:
  • large forms - this is the silhouette and volume of the figure
  • medium forms/main details - in this case joints, cogs, eye lenses, defining armour plates
  • small forms/fine details - rivets, damage, surface details etc. (with miniatures, this can sometimes end up being left to the painter)

As a general rule, it is best to get 80%+ done with each layer before moving on to the next.
I can't emphasise enough the importance of the silhouette. This tells you what the model is, it's broad archetype. The medium and small forms then fill out the 'story'. I don't know if Sketchup allows you to view an unshaded mesh as a silhouette, but that would be useful.
Think about the purpose of the shapes you create. What are they housing?

In a similar style of simple shapes, I love Filbot's J3FF and B3RT. In this case, the lack of fine details actually reinforces the design of the robots.

I feel that Sketchup is holding you back in your designs. It is so reliant on primitive shapes, your designs are constrained to boxes with chamfers and cylinders. I'd really recommend getting hold of some proper 3D modelling software.
Blender is free and powerful, but not easy to learn: http://www.blender.org
Student editions of Max and Maya are available here: http://www.autodesk.com/education/student-software.
Hexagon was free for a while. I downloaded it and it seems decent: http://www.daz3d.com/hexagon-2-5-download-version/

Otherwise, see here: viewtopic.php?f=36&t=599
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Re: Robots - 3d modeling

Postby Islacrusez » Sat Dec 07, 2013 5:41 am

The beauty of SketchUp is the ease of use. For the things it is designed for, it is unmatched in how easy it is to pick up and go; it can take weeks to learn how to do the same in other programs. I suppose the investment to learn will pay off eventually, assuming you succeed.
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Re: Robots - 3d modeling

Postby Malika » Sat Dec 07, 2013 10:07 pm

@Fleafa: thank you so much for this post! This is really helpful! :D

I basically need to combine Mangozac's feedback regarding the layers and your idea of the shape sizes, makes perfect sense. The importance of silhouette is major. As you can see in my design, I haven't really considered that. I just started to build a head and then move down to the feet, hence the bad proportions and finally unsatisfying shape.

Kudos for mentioning the 'story'. I'm making all these things with storytelling in mind, but I totally forget to think of a story behind this robot. Now I don't mean that in the sense of a biography and building a setting, but more its purpose. Why is the robot the way it is? Why has it been designed this way? What is its function? Back to the drawing table I guess. :)

In a similar style of simple shapes, I love Filbot's J3FF and B3RT. In this case, the lack of fine details actually reinforces the design of the robots.

OMG that stuff is amazing! Look at his Sketchbook, some really funky designs there! :)

I feel that Sketchup is holding you back in your designs. It is so reliant on primitive shapes, your designs are constrained to boxes with chamfers and cylinders. I'd really recommend getting hold of some proper 3D modelling software.

I've gotten my hands on Blender after having done a photoshoot at their office last year, sadly enough never really looked into the software due to time restraints. I always had other projects coming up and SketchUp was just a quick and easy way to visualize my ideas. I am however noticing that I'm running into certain limitations. Organic shapes are rather difficult, if not impossible. And when enclosing the model there are often glitches which cause it to deform. Something I've really ran into when designing my boarding pods. Which reminds me, I should really get back to designing my ships...
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Re: Robots - 3d modeling

Postby Fleafa » Tue Dec 10, 2013 7:42 am

Not necessarily back to the drawing board. Iterate with these things in mind. Story is certainly important, but be prepared to overrule it in the name of coolness!
Gather a selection of reference photos together (Filbot, Wall-E, ABC Warriors etc.!) in a folder and spend a little time thinking about where you would like to take the design.
Sketchup's ease of use is matched only by it's limitations ;)
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Re: Robots - 3d modeling

Postby Fleafa » Wed Dec 18, 2013 9:03 pm

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Re: Robots - 3d modeling

Postby Malika » Thu Dec 19, 2013 5:58 am

Hmm, I might go for something cruder soon...especially since you mentioned the ABC Warrior! But first things first...working a bit on my space ships again, but mostly space ship interiors!
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Re: Robots - 3d modeling

Postby Islacrusez » Thu Dec 19, 2013 10:23 pm

Now I don't feel too bad about the number of projects I have on the go ;)
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Re: Robots - 3d modeling

Postby Malika » Fri Dec 20, 2013 1:36 am

Islacrusez wrote:Now I don't feel too bad about the number of projects I have on the go ;)

Don't get me started! Thing is that I often get super enthusiastic about stuff very quickly, but most of the time it fades away after a week or so, but then comes back from time to time.

The Aquila ships I worked on for example were supposed to be the beginning of a complete range, at the moment it's on hold because I need to find a way to produce them in a cheaper way. Escorts however would be a very possible option...

The Legion ships are my main focus, they are truly 'my' project in a sense, the interiors I've been working on (which I should post here as well...) are part of that same project/setting.

The robot was a little extra, a delve into my childhood fantasies, but I need to seriously rethink it, and take the proper time for it to do it...
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Re: Robots - 3d modeling

Postby Islacrusez » Fri Dec 20, 2013 2:32 am

That's more or less exactly how it goes for me. I've currently got that corvette piece going, the turret packs, the gothic weapon packs, the airship combat system I started (though I'm perma-shelving that for now) and now a BFG-inspired space combat system. Now I want in on some of this interior action too, and as much as I'd love robots I think I'd sit that particular exercise out ;) I've also got an Imperial Guard army I'm borrowing that I need to paint, 40k rules to learn, I've got an unfinished Spitfire model on the go, a Defiant model, a Bismarck model, and a B-17 model (perma-shelved).

Believe me, I know the feeling ^^
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