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.

Handgun Model, Completed.

This is rather late in coming. The holidays, a cold and a new job have taken most of my focus.

So yeah, the model came together rather well, if I do say so. Some of my simulated wear could be better and I need to do some paint touch-up but otherwise I've got a kick out of the finished product.


A few cool things came together at the end.

  • I printed out templates of the grip geo in order to cut out some grip tape overlays. I think it contrasts nicely with the frame and lends some realism, as I know grip-tape is a favorite among special forces operatives, swat, gun-nuts, etc. 
  • I experimented with Krylon grip spray on the frame, in hopes of creating the pebbled/grippy surface one might find on the plastic composite frame with many modern handguns. It's hard to tell from my crappy pic but the effect was somewhat of a success. It indeed looks textured, though I would have liked for it to have been a bit bumpier. Word to the wise, spray the texture spray 1st, as I had problems with the paint crazing after applying the grip spray over the dried brown paint. If one MUST spray the grip over the paint, make sure you have the model fully primed. The only places that crazed were where the primer had been sanded away prior to painting. I guess the smart thing to do, in the end, is just make damn sure your model is fully primed.
  • I felt that weight would lend a sense of realism to the model when it was picked up so I filled the slide with about 10 ounces of lead weights. I also glued in 10 or so ounces of carriage bolts into the frame. It gives the model a good heft.
  • One thing I'm rather proud about is the fact that the sights actually line up. Furthermore the glow in the dark 'inserts' (drilled and filled with glow paint) look pretty cool.

To sorta step back in the process a bit; I want to mention a step I'm really glad I took. I had a general idea as to how big the print should be, but I wasn't exactly sure. In computer games, objects can usually be scaled after the fact. However, clearly with printing, that is not the case. So I took a orthographic screenshot and pasted it into Photoshop, where using the rulers I came up with the best size. First one was too big, the second two small, the last nice and bracketed in between. I'll spare you the embarrasing pictures of me holding the cut-outs, looking for the size, that felt, as well as looked correct.

I call this the 'count on your fingers' approach. I'm sure there are some 3D modeling/printing ninjas out there that could skip this step, but like I've said before; fine tuning real world scaling is tricky (for me at least.)


A handful of things to do differently next time:

  • I need to incorporate more tab and slot arrangements for the various components. The safety switches in particular merely lay on the side of the slide and have already popped off. I may end up pinning them, but having that already incorporated into the model would help a lot.
  • Improve the quality of the print. I'm not sure why I got the artifacts I did on the frame and slide, but they certainly made my job harder.
  • I need to come up with a better way of simulating the wear of the finish that exposes the underlying metal. I found that in some spots, I accidentally wore down to the grey primer, missing the metallic paint all together. It could just be dialing back my sanding, but I'm going to explore other methods.
  • Grip spray crazes paint!!
  • I attempted to glue the slide to the frame with 5 minute epoxy. I love 5 minute epoxy (hence the name of the blog), but in this case I didn't get a good bond. I ended up using Aves Apoxie Sculpt for a more mechanical bond, to great effect. Unfortunately, if one looks real close between the slide and the frame you can still see a little shiny epoxy.

In the end, I had a lot of fun working on this model. I learned a few lessons and have been bolstered by the results.  I've got an idea or two for some ray guns/blasters, but I think for my next project I'm going to do something a little less weapony. I hope to start posting that project within the next week or so. Thanks for tuning in!

3D Printed Knife

I've got some catch-up to do on my latest work, so here's an all-in-one account of how this knife came together.


The source file is from a 3D model I made in February of this year. It was built using 3DS Max and Zbrush. I took the high rez model and with a few tweaks, output it to 3 separate .STL files. You'll notice on the final print that the hand guard got turned around to face forward as I realized it made more sense that way.

Being new to 3D printing it took me a while to get my .STL correct. Holes, flipped faces and other errors in the geo that might not show up in a render can stop a print before it even happens. Fortuantely I had the forethought to bring my source files and a laptop to the Asylum with me on set-up day and was able to massage the files into shape.. 


I just about jumped out of my skin when the print came out of the machine. It was amazing to see my work, previously digital and untouchable, to now an object I can actually hold. Hot (literally) out of the machine:

Right out of the Uprint.

Prior to painting, I pinned and expoxied the three parts (blade, guard, and handle) together. Should I have painted them 1st and then glued them together? Good question. It's a toss-up. Anyway...

Quick fit checkIt was pretty obvious that I was going to need to do some sanding, filling or something. Someone on the LinkedIn 3D Printing Guild forum recommended using high-build primer filler. I couldn't find it locally so I picked up some Rust-Oleum Filler-Primer from Amazon. Where has this stuff been all my life? It's great! Using it as well as some progressively finer sanding, I was able to get rid of the print lines. Or at least those you can readily see.

Priming, filling, sanding in progress.


Let the painting begin. At this point my hands were full so I didn't get a lot of pictures. My process in a nutshell: After filling, priming and sanding, I painted the blade 1st, using Krylon Fushion 'Metalic Shimmer'. Afterwards I masked off the painted blade and painted the guard and the pommel with Fusion 'hammered finsih'. I can't say it looked very hammered, but it was darker than the blade and created enough contrast that I was happy.

Once, I had the main components painted, I wrapped a strip of vinyl faux leather around the handle, adhering it with some 3M spray adhesive. Incidentally, the strip was from some scrap given to me by the nice people at Broadway Upholstery. Many thanks to them! The vinyl looked great, but just wouldn't conform to the handles shape due to a woven fabric backing. I found however that a short soak in some denatured alcohol (the vinyl, not me) allowed that backing to be peeled off.

Once I had the handle wrapped I commenced to applying a dark brown acrylic wash to the entire knife. A few wipes and reapplications of wash and I had a fairly used looking knife. I followed up with a mixture of gloss and matt sealers. FYI the vinyl didn't take too well to the sealer and has stayed a little sticky, though not enough to leave any residue on your hand.

So far, people have reacted pretty positively towards the finished piece. While it was originally designed as a Lord of the Rings-ish knife, more than one person as said it looks like something a pirate would carry. I can live with that.

The two 'final shots' I have are ok, but I hope to post some glamour shots in the near future.

Overall, I'm pretty damn happy with my 1st start-to-finish 3D printing project. I think the design translated well to the phyiscal world and fit the hand fairly well. Surface prep and painting didn't take too terribly long. However there are a few things I would do differently if I were to make another one of these knives:

  • Model the parts so that they more readily fit together, as the way I have it now, they merely sit against each other. Thus I had to drill and pin the parts together in conjunction with glueing, which isn't terrible, but made proper alignment a bit tougher in the glueing stage.
  • Model in additional and more pronounced scratching and dents. The filling and sanding stage really destroyed a lot of the finer detail found in the original model. Of course the fact that this as a FDM print in the 1st place eliminated some of the detail, right off the bat.
  • Instead of using rattle cans, I would decant and airbrush. I found that the thick application of the spray paint, further masked detail.
  • I need to find a better means of sealing my models. The stuff I'm using now is more of a craft quality fix spray. An epoxy coat of some sort? I would also not seal the vinyl, which for some reason is still sticky.
  • I will keep all Christmas wrapping paper that utilizes gitter away from anything that is remotely sticky as I now have a (albeit sparsely) glittered Dwarven/Pirate knife in my possession.

 Thanks for reading and comments are more than welcome!