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3D modeling helping to restore a wood working tradition.

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05-18-2012 10:27 AM

I wanted to share the beginnings of a project I'm working on as well as introduce myself both to the community and to Auto desk products in general.

I'm a graduate from an Midwestern University with a BFA in Digital Art. I did not focus on anything primarily in college but found myself enjoying 3D modeling. 4 years later, I've been hired as the first figure modeler for a manufacture of traditional, hand carved, wooden carousels. The company has been using Autodesk products to help design the structure and mechanics of their carousels for a number of years now but the Carousel designers did not have the experience to start modeling the more organic aspects of a carousel, the figures, and the decorative molding. That's where I come in. I was trained on Alias Maya (now Autodesk Maya) and Zbrush, having worked with the former for about 2 years total and with Zbrush for a 6 week semester period. I've spent the past two weeks familiarizing myself with both Autodesk 3D Max Design and Autodesk Mudbox after being given my first modeling project (I also paint figures when not working with the computers).

We have a client interested in having a miniature of a Carousel they are sponsoring being built. This Carousel is one of our larger ones, a 16 section, 4 row carousel that is nearly 50" wide I believe. It has 42 figures and 2 chariots on it. The Company's Owner and primary designer of this Carousel (Details of which I can not yet share) has been looking into 3D printing this miniature. Thus, I've started modeling the figures for a test.

I'd like to share these figures and hear any advice or criticisms of them. Modeling is something that is still new to me, but that I enjoy. I want to improve and I think after modeling 42 figures I will!

I also will have a number of questions regarding 3D printing and hope to pick all your brains during this project.

Such as: Can you tell a 3D printer to print hollow? In order to cut down on costs, the Carousel Designer is wondering if we can print these figures hollow (much like how they are carved) and what that require from me, the modeler. Do I have to model a hollow space inside the figure and simply invert the normals so that the outer skin is facing out and the skin of the inner space is facing inward?

Below are my two models so far, a Tiger, and the Zebra for the Carousel. The Zebra took me nearly a week to simply model out in 3D max and then a few more days in Mudbox. The tiger took me two days to model, having gotten familiar with 3D max and then I am still tweaking it in Mudbox (the paws need more details..).

If you've ridden either of the Carousels located on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas or Oasis of the Sea, the Carousel located at the L.A. Zoo, the Detroit Zoo, the Columbus Commons' Carousel or the Carousel of Innovation at Dayton, you've ridden a carousel Autodesk products have helped design.

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