Oops

Looks like  I forgot to post anything in 2015. I spent the vast majority of last year working on Rock Band 4. I started with Harmonix Music Systems on January 6th and hit the ground running.

Along the way, I have done a few 3D printing pieces for a client, but no personal projects. I did however win best-of-show, in the studio's Halloween pumpkin contest, though I was accused of cheating in a tweet or two. Lolz.

I have in the meanwhile discovered a new passion and that is drawing while commuting via public transportation. I spend about 2 hours a day on a train and bus, so I've started drawing on my phone using Sketchbook Pro, Pixlr and a few other apps. I started the year a truly 2nd rate 2D artist, and while no illustrators are in any danger of losing their jobs, it's amazing what drawing every day can do for your 2D chops. Anyhow, I'll post a few of those as well as a few other bits of news.

 

 

Bus art

Commuting via public transportation can be a wonderful thing; you don't have to drive, it's good for the environment, it **usually** carries on despite in-climate weather, and so on. That said, it can also be completely awful. The buses in Boston get crowded sometimes and the trains even worse. For the most part, my fellow commuters are well versed in public trans etiquette and despite being nose to nose with them at times, are acceptable traveling companions. However, on occasion there is that outlier, who's bad day, addiction and/or mental illness ruins it for everyone. Not to mention the smells (namely urine with the occasional errant bus-fart) and sounds that one is assaulted with 5 days out of the week (the squeaking brakes between Harvard and Central are ear splitting).

Most people deal with the conditions (and don't forget boredom) by distraction, namely via the smartphone. In addition, music is a popular distraction (for the most part using earbuds/headphones  - don't get me started on the assholes who opt for their phone's speakers...).  This is what I for the most part did, in the beginning of my public trans days. Staring at Facebook while listening to music on my over-the-ear Bluetooth headphones (to hell with wires).

But one can only refresh FB so many times before your brain starts to go to shit. So one day, I started sketching on my phone, using SketchBook Pro , with a recently acquired Wacom Gen. 3 Bamboo Stylus .

Sketchfab view of my Stylus holder

I'm becoming quite fond of Sketchfab, as it's a geat means of keeping a client up to date on your progress, as well as a way to just show off. They've really spruced it up over the last year, with a good array of material and post settings.

 

Stylus Holder - Decimated/Low Rez by Lee_A_Williamson on Sketchfab

I thought a low-rez version of my Wacom stylus holder (which was eventually printed out on a Form 1 printer) would be neat to show. Note the interior 'snap-in' accomidation for the OEM holder's base. It fits in nicely and gives the holder a good weight.

 

Pumpkin cutting made easy!

I'm likely late to the game on this one, but I have stumbled upon the best tool for cutting the top off of your pumpkin. A hacksaw blade! Either start with a standard knife to make a slit and then insert the blade, or push the blade through. Then just saw away, being sure to choke up on the blade and ensure you keep your inward angle. It also makes cutting your registration notch a cinch. No more sketchy kitchen knives that get stuck in the pumpkin, as the hacksaw blade just slips along as you cut. I used one intended for cutting metal, so the teeth were very close together. You're less likely to cut yourself than with perhaps the more spaced/larger tooth blades. I'd hazard that children could use it safely as well. 

I've also found that rubber gloves (I really like the Ammex nitrile) are a great way to prevent the pumpkin under the fingernails and itchy drying pumpkin on the hands and wrists. I've seen some people wear light work gloves when cutting their pumpkins to reduce the possibility of cutting your supporting hands. Seems like a good idea.

This is my 3rd attempt over the years to sculpt-carve a pumpkin. I'm getting better, but I've got a way to go before I'm satisfied with the results. Carving (a subtractive process) is tricky!!

The pumpkin shown was for a friend, who is a den mother in the Cub Scouts. It's to be 1st prize for a costume contest. I hope it's good enough to satisfy an 8 year old at least!

Some previous 3D printing work for Industria Mechanika

 

I modeled a handful of sea birds for the amazing Industria Mechanika model company, about a year ago. I'm contemplating putting them on my portfolio site, but for now thought I would give embedding Sketchfab models a go, on my blog first.

These meshes were eventually output to 1/35 scale, which is pretty small. Thus, when modeling I kept the detail fairly low. No need to  invest time into detail that won't be printed.

 

 

3D Printing and Mold Making

I've been a conventional sculptor for most of my life. While I've for the most part, moved from clay sculpting to digital, I still crave the tangible; hence my keen interest in 3D printing. For the last decade or so, I also explored mold making and casting. Being able to reproduce my clay sculpture, proved to be very satisfying. Materials ranging from silicone rubber to urethane plastic to gypsum plaster, made up the majority of my castings.

 

 

Despite having for now, moved to digital sculpting and 3D printing, I maintain the desire to make multiple copies of my pieces. While I could merely print additional copies, there is the matter of expense and the relatively limited variety of materials available for print. 

Hence my next project I have on deck. I'm keeping the subject matter under my hat (think alternate history/Sci Fi WW2 era) but the the means by which I'm producing the pieces is something I've been yammering about to anyone who will listen, for some time.

I want to cut out the middle man, so to speak and rather than print a master that I would then create a mold from, I want to print the molds. Not only will I be able to engineer pour lines and vents, and registration points, the tolerances between the mold halves should be very high. One of the hardest parts of mold making is creating a dam between the two (or more) halves of the mold when laying on the material. It is not uncommon for the place where the mold components come together to have miniscule gaps, resulting in an edge or flashing on the subsequent casting.

I'm very excited about this particular project. Where as a few posted previously have fallen somewhat by the wayside, this one is a go. I'm in talks with a concept artist and am very close to procuring some of the equipment I will need. I will most certainly be posting my progress!

Turbine, I hardly knew ya...

I went to work yesterday, knowing that I may very well be leaving without a job. It began with the grapevine; talks of layoffs around the water-cooler were a daily event for months. Finally, word came from on high that there would indeed be layoffs. Who and when, were anyone's guess.

Eventually, October 15th was eyed as THE day. Lo and behold, indeed it was. I'm not at liberty to say how many people were laid off, but it was not an insignificant number. And unfortunately, I was among them.

I'm not sure what metrics they used to determine who stayed and who would be cut. I was told 'it's us, not you' and I believe them. Personally, I had nothing but positive experiences at Turbine and I can say without hesitation that my work was solid and that I was a productive and amicable member of the team. In fact, no-one I saw that got laid off 'deserved it.' There were some surprising choices and I saw some really talented, hard working and just all around good people lose their jobs. It was a sad day indeed.

That said, them's the breaks. I have no ill will towards Turbine. The games industry is tumultuous. Publishers (in Turbine's case, Warner Brothers) pretty much dictate the numbers. I know there were a lot of heavy hearts among management yesterday. Their's was not an easy job.

So anyhow, I'm beating the pavement, keeping my eyes peeled, among other hackneyed phrases. The Boston area has a growing and vibrant tech, design and game dev community. I'm looking forward to what's next.

One thing about this event that will stick with me, is the outpouring of sympathy and genuine affection I felt from my former co-workers (those laid off and those still working). Management let everyone go home after the announcement and I was amazed at how many people stuck around, while those selected waited to have their exit interviews. Beers at the Biltmore afterwards soothed frazzled nerves, laments turned to jokes, jokes lead to hugs and goodbyes. It was a good day despite it simultaneously, completely sucking.

I was only there for 10 months, but I'll sure miss working with those folks (and one dog).

 

Toffee, the awesome, unofficial, Turbine office dog.

Presenting at the Reality Computing, Boston Meetup

The Meetup group, Reality Computing is meeting tonight in Boston, where I'll be giving a 10 minute presentation, The Creative Potential of 3D Printing. 

I'm really looking forward to meeting members of the group and hearing the other speakers. As all my fans and followers know (hey Mom), I am, dare I say, obsessed with 3D printing. I don't have much experience with scanning, (though I have had amazing results with 123D Catch, by Autodesk), so I'm very interested in the talks on 3D scanning.

I don't have any relevant imagery to add. So here's a picture of the 'molded knobs' I got off of the free table at work yesterday...

Molded Knobs. Not really sure why I felt the need to take these...

Poison Bottle Ceramic Print

I received my poison bottle from Shapeways a month or so ago.

The green wasn't nearly as green as their website purported, but otherwise I'm really excited about the results. The glazing process obscures the detail a bit, but it still looks pretty cool. 

The cork was in colored sandstone (which incorporated a texture map) turned out awesome. It really looks like a cork!

A little Photoshop fun, to boot...

Stylus Holder

Time for some catch up. Family, work and freelance have kept me pretty busy...

Anyhow, here's one of my latest projects. It's a stylus holder that fits over the base of the OEM holder that comes with Wacom tablets. It was sculpted in Zbrush and printed on a friend's Form 1 3D printer.

It was painted with airbrushed acrylics and an oil paint wash. I finished with a mineral sprit based varnish, wich turned out really nice. 

When I get my act together perhaps I'll do a post on my process. 

Spray Booths!

I just wrapped up on a project (post to come) that involved a lot of airbrushing. Having had enough of overspray and fumes, I decided to buy a spray booth.

Between my limited budged and limited basement space, I knew I needed something smaller and less expensive than the Grizzly but larger than the Paasche. After a bit of research I landed on the Artograph 1350. At a hair under 400 bucks, it wouldn't be a trivial purchase, but my long term health is worth it.

Long story short, I found one for sale on Craigslist for a steal ($125)! It had been used twice and the seller's husband just wanted to get rid of it.  Anyway, I am now in the possession of an almost new spray booth, which is to be the cornerstone of my new basement studio.

See the booth (as well as my completely unorganized/bomb went off studio) below:

The selective focus option on my phone got rather out of hand...

 

 

Poison Bottle - Giving Shapeways and Modo a try...

I've decided to try my hand at selling some models on Shapeways. I used a demo of Modo to model the bottle, with Zbrush for the skull, details and scaled .SLT export. I'm new to Modo, but have to say I am really liking it. I think I'll pick up a license the next time it goes on sale.

So far, modeling in Modo is awesome.

A quick Zbrush Render.

I'll post a follow-up once my test print arrives, with perhaps a quick posting on my process.

Surfari - Custom Car Emblem 3D Print

Yesterday I had the pleasure of handing over a freshly printed car emblem to a client, the very talented Tony Mazzola. Using his vector art of the emblem, I used 3D Max, Zbrush (for a touch of last minute revision, decimation and STL export) and a little clean-up in Netfabb to create a printer ready emblem for use on his refurbished, custom/surfing themed, 1988, Pontiac Station Wagon.

Next phone, by god, will have a better camera... Or I could just use my camera.

I had the emblem printed at Shapeways using their 'white, strong, flexible and polished' material and it looks great. Tony will now be taking that master print and creating a mold to cast multiple copies. He'll then be taking those copies and painting them chrome, to approximate the OEM emblems, prior to attaching them to the car. I'll post shots of those when he's gets them complete.

Before I get into the process nitty-gritty, I MUST show you the car the emblem is destined for. More specifically, I have to show you the paintwork Tony has done. Namely the HAND PAINTED wood grain that replaces the original fake wood laminate. Again, HAND PAINTED!

Wait, it get's better...By hand...

With a brush!!

Seriously this guys does faux finishes like you wouldn't believe. I've seen the car in person and the work blows you away. See above for a link to his site. He does home repair and excellent mural and faux finish work.

 

OK, on to the 3D printing!! Here's the quick and dirty:

Tony, exported vector paths from Illustrator of his emblem (script/font work is something I stink at, and I think Tony knocked it out of the park).

Vector paths, generated in Illustrator by the client.

I then took that file into 3DS Max and essentially used a series of bridging and capping to create planer faces from the paths. Afterwards, I extruded the emblem and back-plate separately, did a  boolean union of the two, cleaned up the geometry and then turbosmoothed the hell out of the finished product. I then export/imported the bloated .OBJ into Zbrush for decimation and export to and .STL file. A quick cleanup in Netfabb (just to be sure) and I was off to the printer... 

Boolean and turbosmooth madness.

With my .STL file exported I uploaded it to Shapeways; only to have it rejected with no explanation! After contacting Shapeways, I learned that the dot over the 'I', being not connected to the rest of the emblem fell below their minimum build volume. My bad...

Sooo, instead of starting from scratch, I brought the enormous/dense .OBJ back into Zbrush where I extended the 'I' portion of the backplate to meet the backplate of the dot. Smoothed any artifacts, decimated and exported again. Simple as that. Have I mentioned I love Zbrush?

Thanks again Zbrush. I forgive you for driving me nuts sometimes.

Again, just for good measure I ran it through Netfabb, uploaded and bingo, into production...

That's all for now. I hope to post some shots of the painted castings at some point in the near future. It's been a fun project to be a part of. Thanks Tony!