Modeling For 3D Printing | Josh Dunlap | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

11 Lessons (48m)
    • 1. Introduction To Modeling For 3D Printing

    • 2. Introduction To Maya

    • 3. Blocking In The Head And Torso

    • 4. Creating The Arm

    • 5. Creating Details On The Arm

    • 6. Creating The Legs

    • 7. Creating The Foot

    • 8. Creating The Hand

    • 9. Preparing The Model For 3D Print

    • 10. STL Cleanup And Check

    • 11. Final Thoughts

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About This Class


In this class, I will walk you through the process of modeling a character that you can 3D print.

We'll be using a simple pencil sketch or any concept art you'd like as our base image to work from. It is good to pick a simple image / concept. We will start off with modeling basic geometric shapes and forms to create our exciting character. I will walk you through the ins and outs of our basic workflow of modeling in Maya. 

I'm really excited to teach this class and I hope everyone enjoys this process!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Josh Dunlap

3D Artist and Illustrator based in Los Angeles, Ca


Digital Artist based in Los Angeles, CA.

I specialize in 3D Character / Hard Surface Sculpting and Design for the film, gaming, and collectibles industries. I currently work at Legacy Effects as a 3D Artist and have worked with companies such as Marvel, DC, Toyota, The Mill, Magic Wand Studios, Sideshow, and Mezco Toyz.

I approach digital art from a traditional mindset. My background in traditional drawing, painting, and sculpting gives me an invaluable perspective when approaching 3D digital projects and concept art.

A recent digital sculpture of 'Bruce Wayne' from Batman Begins, for a 6in scale collectible figure.

As well as 'Ras Al Ghul' from Batman Begins, for a 6in scale collectible figure.

... See full profile

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1. Introduction To Modeling For 3D Printing: My name is Josh. I'm three artist based in Los Angeles, California. Today I'm gonna teach you how to model and sculpt a robot that you can three d print. I will be using Maya in a little bit of Z brush at the end. A lot of modeling and different techniques. I'm going to show you some work flows to speed up the process. If you already know my a little bit, if not, no big deal. I'm gonna teach you a little intro and get you guys start. That's all these methods. We're gonna be very simple. I'm trying to take a straightforward approach. Like I said, you're gonna still learn something new. Hopefully so help you guys have fun. I hope you enjoy the class on. Let's get started. 2. Introduction To Maya: All right. Welcome. The first video lesson of the class. We're gonna be using my A 2016 for this demo. First things we have to check. Make sure it's set to modeling. Polygons is great on. Then make sure this box is ticked on. This is a modeling tok, and we'll get to this in a minute. Eso what's going to create a simple shape you can use these? Many is up here, which just created very simple geometry. Or but I'm going to show you is a very Kuwait Teoh. Get things started off very quickly when you're gonna have to hold shift, right click, and then it'll pop up this menu. Let's go ahead and select a cube. And this centers it into our environment. Have it framed up. All you have to do is hit f, and this will go straight towards a geometry and basic navigation in my can be pretty tricky if you're not used to it. Once you know it, it will be quite familiar. All right, so first thing to do this and spin around, you're gonna hold Holter option and right click. And that's with surround your object. And if you hit F, it will center that and pivot around that orientation. Next one will be panning, which will be the same Ault option. You'll click the middle mouse button drag around, and then we'll need the center wheel to zoom in and out and again. It's really great, and you need a three click button mouse so your middle mouse will have to click. That's pretty important just to navigate. You can use a wakame tablet as well, if you prefer. All right, so that takes care of navigation. And again, we're gonna be using pop up menus like this. It's basically shift right click. It'll pop up new things. If you're object selected a pop up another menu, which we'll get to in one minute, and so that's selected. Next up, let's go over what we can actually select. So my works on faces order a thing called of urgency, which is just the point. Wait can move them around by using hockey. W E R R. So what w will do will move it around. You're gonna be using this a lot. Basically, these Air X, Y and Z access, and you just you can move in any direction. One you can free move it. But I recommend trying to stick with their. I will see you don't get confused. Gonna go ahead and turn this grand plane off. Let's get that back to a box. Face the same thing. Edges obviously same. So let's select our face. Let's go over something else. Next weaken doing extrude, which is very popular in three D modeling. You'll hear that term quite a bit extra. We can hit this button or as I'm going to show you, shift right click extrude. Move that out and you can adjust it by clicking those boxes as well. If you want to kind of make a different shape, and he can play a round of these interest mints to If you need to another good thing of Maya, you can do a smooth preview and you'll be using us quite a bit if you don't want it to be so boxing. Let's go ahead and do that. We'll hit the one, which is this view. Three will smooth preview. So here's this. It's not very exciting. Let's go ahead and add some support edges. So basically we do this because no real object in real life has sharp edges like this we're gonna make This is believable is possible by beveling these edges just the light falls off this surface a bit better. So to do that, we can either hit level here where we can shift right click bevel edge And let's adjust this just a little bit. It's to point to right, And so now you see way smooth, you've got a different shape, has more of a support edge now a good rule of practice, which I like to do just so that geometry doesn't get messy and this is again we're going to be keeping it very low until we need Teoh. This allows us to tweak and modify our shapes without getting too confused, because we can go ahead and add along supporting edges. You know, like this You don't need that. You know it's gonna be like that. We don't need all those. We're gonna work very simply and cleanly. You know, wherever you can for sure. Well, I like to use his multi cut so we'll go ahead and select multi cut and again you can choose it here, which is multi cut. And we're gonna add some supporting edges to make these shapes a little more solid. So how this works is you hold control and select edge again. Edge most. I cut and you'll hold the control key down, and this will let you glide along the edge. So let's do that. And then when there and a good rule of practices. Three. Having three edges. So 123 right there. This add a nice crisp fall off and I'll show you more closely in one minute. Let's add one more support here. One more here and one more here and this vehicle box the only ever a nice box right there. So you see that there and how it falls off like that. Another good tool, if you want a sharper edge, is a slide edge tool. And to get this, we're going to hold shift to right, click and go down the slide edge and with your middle mouse button, as it says and it pops up, you're gonna go left. So it's probably easier like this for you. Zoom in. If it snaps too much, let's see how this does could do that with its edge to dragging up and down with their mouths button middle mouse button selected. Let's have one more malty cut right there. So this should be good to show. You see this nice edge and let's go ahead and out of material. We just right click a sign, new material, and this other method will pop up, which is great, but there's an easier way. It's a shift, right click assigned favorite material. Let's choose a blend something that has a nice trying to because the Lambert is great. But it doesn't give you that nice, hard edge surface field to see how this is reading so much better than this because we have our support edges. So let's go ahead and add one more down here just so we can see how it looks. All right. Great. Now let's add one here. All right, so see how the slopes And if you get rid of this line right here, which how you get rid of it is controlled. Delete will delete all the vergis ease and the edge. Rather, if you just hit delete, it's just gonna do your edge. Just keep that in mind when you're working, you have our support and It's pretty good if we want to make this low, sharper. We can. But just keep in mind. If you want a hard edge, just make sure there's a nice box like that. And again, we beveled this so it has that nice light, you know, might follow us that we're looking. And that's how we make shapes and Meyer. And if we want to just their preview, we can. Which is really good to do because sometimes you see it's a little junkie. So we got a smooth mash over here, and we'll just up that from to toe say four and see how that's a lot crisper. Perfect. So this is basically this is what we're going to do. We're gonna you know, let's go ahead and create a sphere is well, just so you can see that I usually like to do is keep this very simple in light, and that gives you a ton of geometry, which you don't really so give 20. I like to work in eighths just because it's a good base to start when we're modeling. It's very good to keep in mind, especially if you're trying to animate this character. Later on for three D printing. It doesn't matter quite a bit, but it is helpful. And it's a good way to practice, you know, Just keep everything in quads. Try to get rid of triangles when you can. Like, he saw it right there. There is a lot of triangles. I just deleted them by making sure your edges selected clicking them and then control delete. And so this has a nice quad. Everything squad now. So when we smooth it, it's gonna look pretty good. It's the same thing we said we can select faces. Extrude do that. Whenever you guys like you get the idea right. Another good thing to cover is the view port. So what I just did there I hit space bar and it takes you to this my report. So this is the top front inside. So let's go over had a mere something because basically, we're gonna be making 1/2 of our character is because in digital you only really need one af and then you can just mere over your object. And so how we do that is were granted duplicates. So you hit command D and then you hit command G, which will group your object. Basically, let me show you this. So this is called out liner. It basically just made a group. So here's your geometry inside and made a group, and the group will center it to your world, which is pretty important when you want something to mirror up in line up. If you want, select that it's OK. Just select your group again, and what we're gonna do to mirror over is make it in the negative scale for X and negative one, and then you have a mirror, so you could do this to check it out When your sculpting we're going to do this in Z brush once it's all complete. But it's a good rule of thumb just to keep in mind when you're working, if you need to see how your character looks nearing over, so that's basically it. My way have our hockey's that W W E. And are so are will scale your objects. He will rotate and w So we're gonna keep this pretty pretty light. We're not going to go into too much detail, but this is definitely the basis of Maya. You don't need a whole lot more. You can do a lot more like you could do animation. You convey rigging, can do effects, whatever you like. But just for modeling, we're gonna keep it pretty simple. We're going to stick to the menu again. If you're not comfortable with the hockey's of the shift right click. That's okay. Just go ahead and use them over here and you can scroll down here is well, and so there's our object, that nice clean edges and then go and to save you, just file save in the file export till we importer image until show up right there to set him back a bit off the surface. So this is the top just pushing the back of it. So you see the great underneath and sweet space for again, and here we go. This just have your image ready. Here's our character perfect, and we can line up to the center best. It's possible this is on 3/4. When I designed it, I wasn't doing a straight on view. What you may have this happened quite a bit. If it's concept already, you're finding a picture online to work from. You may be starting with three core, which is no big deal. We're just gonna have to, you know, accommodate for that. And keep that in mind when we're actually making your job Tree Porter image like we just did create basic shapes, line them up. And also a good thing to go over his display keys. If you Fouras well, I would be see through. And we can also add this to have a transparent mode, which is a good idea when your first blocking out everything you can see through your object. So let's jump into the next video are gonna walk you through the first actual modeling of this robot. 3. Blocking In The Head And Torso: All right, So let's get started. So far, a robot. We're gonna first make the head see shift in right click and creative polish fear. Then we go over to the actually be editor, and I'm changing the subdivision levels on access and height just eight. So it's something more simple toe work with when we don't get confused with to maneuver theses and edges. So, yeah, now I'm just selecting the robot. All the different Vergis ease just pulling them around and pushing and pulling and keeping everything neat and trying to line it up. Taking advantage of all the Maya reports which were very, very useful. As you see, working with the upper right and lower left suggest that perspective you in the front few just to match the concept art. Another thing that's helpful is assigning a color to the material, in particular a blend, something that is very shiny. It helps you see your edges and how they're working together. Another core concept would you just saw? I'm trying to keep everything in quads, so I'm deleting excess faces because all of those who made a bunch of triangles said, deleting those, it leaves me a nice quieted top part of the head again, just creating simple geometry and changing the subdivision levels just to make it more manageable. So just shifting this in the place roughly lining up with the concept Earth just selecting the vergis ease moving them around, using the gizmo tool to rotate. Move. Nothing crazy, just trying. Teoh roughly get in place so that it reads well or for somewhat how you like. So just stretch in the form of bed, trying to get something more three dimensional and not so flat. See a see how quickly he's coming together. It's we've literally already made the head, and we've already made the body pretty much modeling toolkit they put in my in 2016 which is really great so you can just go over to the right hand side and click all those great tools which usually you have to click elsewhere. This is a great tool. If you're just beginning, it's really going to save some time and help you out. I'm just getting rid of other triangles as best as possible, trying to keep it quads because it's moves better and you don't get weird surface bumps or things like that. All right, so just going around the model, checking it out, making sure it looks good and just using multi cut. And you see how it works as faras the selection, like the bright yellow will. I mean, it sucks the point, so just watch out for that. Be careful. Make sure it does touch. If not, you'll have to merge the two burgesses together. So, yeah, now we have the basics. All quads, which is great. It's much easier for animation that uses all the time. They try to give everything quads because you can animate it. For three D printing, it really doesn't matter. But it is helpful, for sure. And if you are just beginning again, it's, uh it's definitely good practice to keep in mind. So now just making again these thes leg insects. So I'm gonna be extreme them to give me some more geometry. You all right? So we're gonna add some support edges to this just to make it have a sharper, harder Cruz edge. So to get the top, I just selected all the faces on the top and then extruded it was a little hard to see in that aspect. But once I hit smooth preview, you'll see so again, talking about the three. So you have the 123 It's good supporting edges like right there. See how crisp this edges. I'm going to go to the leg and do the exact same thing. I just I like using the multi cut tool slept the edge in the bevel, adding some support edges again. So this is a smooth preview. It's not is high quality, so you can adjust it him aside if you need to, which is what I just did, and that's that for the head and chest. 4. Creating The Arm: we can go ahead and make our armed cap, so we just create a simple cube. I shift and right clicking create cube notice. The cube is very low geometry. It doesn't have any other divisions. It's just a simple cute. So I'm just moving in position in trying to get the rough shape. I'm extruding it to get a nice Bethel. Either way, you could do a bevel around the edge. I'm just trying to show you different techniques to use here. So either way, just like you saw doing the legs, for instance, doing the booth. We're gonna be doing this a lot. It just gives you mean as far as the way the light flows of the surface. That's why we do this just to give it a nice light. Fall off, like on a car. Actually, any surface, any hard service, it looks way more believable if it has super super slight bevel on it because it's it's more natural. Nothing has a perfect 90 degree angles, so just keep that in mind. See, this is the captain, but it is good practice. Three D modeling for sure. I like to always bevel edges. So yet Now we're gonna move on to the arm, just created a simple cylinder and made sure it was very low. Kollias. Well, all right. We're getting the shape extruding adding sim supporting edges just to give it some more definition. And as you guys model, you're going to run into a problem where you know, if it doesn't take a shape or make that turn or curve like you like, you're gonna have to add another cut into the geometry, which is no big deal. Just don't go crazy like this is very simple and clearly has, you know, three divisions, you know, to I said, three different sections right now, which is not a problem, but just don't go overboard, See when I smooth it, just trying to get her early idea, and obviously it's moves too much, but we'll get that way to go around the model. Just checking on the are making sure it's OK again adding a support edge of the bottom just so we can, you know, see how it's gonna, uh, you know, divide and make that hard edge later on, 5. Creating Details On The Arm: Now we have our arms. Very low geometry. I went ahead and mirrored over the arm for this one. All right, so now we're adding some support geometry, so just trying to get that shaped like you saw the concept hurt that angle. It just follows the surface. It just has that nice flow against the actual robot design wise. So again, trying to keep everything quad deleting the weird stuff. Um, so to get that multi cut tool that I just did, you hold down shift and then drag it out and it will slice of your geometry. So you have to select off the extra geo and then just cut it using this multi cut tool all the time. And again, it's just over in the modelling tool kit area. It's really easy to access if you need it really handy, starting at these arms in place. Then I select the edges by double clicking and then fill the hole. So this allows managers quickly fill a simple shape and then go back and at the supporting , connecting edges still smooth nicely get you the results you want so again, just trying to keep everything quads. That's just what I'm doing right now, and this is very nitpicky stuff. But it does help even this simple robot. It's still take some time just to make sure it's right. And it's very good practice to get habit of keeping everything. Watts just making our men set, just selecting the faces shift and then right click and select duplicate face. And then I extremely that beveling and supporting edges. Same thing just adding the support around the arm. We're gonna go ahead and at the supporting hedges as well. So see, how has a nice Bavel that nice, nice drop off? That's what we're shooting for. Just give some dimension. It reads nice. 6. Creating The Legs: for this next section, we're going to be making the legs. The legs will be basically the same as the arms is faras process goes. It's just could be the simple shapes supporting address, beveling and getting them to be in the right position and right form. So just the same basic principles is the arm. Now let's go ahead and make the legs Oops. 7. Creating The Foot: Now we're gonna move on to the foot, so just create a cube. I shift right, clicking, dragged down to queue. So bring it into place. He's in the gizmo to get it to the right dimensions. Selecting some Vertex is, uh, movie them still makes more of a tow shave, and then I'm extruding again just to get that nice support edge in the center. So you see a bend like that and it keeps that shape. Basically, you know how pulled into shape it's trying to get that nice, nice, readable shape similar to the knee were just carrying over that same shape language just duplicated a cylinder and tucking him in there. This'll designer decided to go to just like it's had to keep the same design language we had for the padding. I'm. Instead of making Owen shape, I decided just to duplicate the face and use new geometry. This help us keep the water tightness and not have to worry about the edges so much because everything is gonna get merged together in the end. So again, just extruding and offsetting things in a bid just to get the shape you want. - All right, with your foot all done, we're gonna go onto the next step which is making the robot hand 8. Creating The Hand: making a cube very simple. Putting that Cuban position for the fingers, just duplicating them, getting the finger shape. So you're seizing multi cut to get edges. I want in the edge flow, having supporting edges where I want them to be a little squared off. Nothing too crazy just getting that kind of retro we robot finger Look again. That is the cool thing about using Constant. Are here a studio or something? They give you concept art. Sometimes it's in the shadow or doesn't really exist, or it's still rough. You can't tell what's going on. There's no time for you to shine by, you know, adding your own flavor or whatever you think looks cool as long as it flows with the rest. That robot or the rest of you know, obviously your character and your good. So this one just took some liberty. I could have gone really, really simple, but I wanted to keep that cylindrical joint system going. You make one finger, you have a whole hand basically your stoop locating it. - Oops . So, yeah, this is me just, you know, making the problem shape now trying to get those nice edges saying concepts just extruding Beverly. What? They cut Obama . Oh, there you go. You have a hand. Now we're gonna make a risk feast. Same thing. Just duplicate the face on the lower section of the arm. Just what matches really nice and have the same flow Rather than starting all over, you can just duplicated. So just making that shape and using that, you know, for one to save time. But it also looks better because it will line up with your geometry again on then just assign a new material. No, it will be separate. See how that's the hand? 9. Preparing The Model For 3D Print: So go ahead and import your robot. You're going to notice when you flip, uh, your parts in my, uh Sometimes they're gonna be, you know, literally flipped. The normals would be flipped. So you're gonna have Teoh NZ Rush, flip them again, which is no big deal just going to flip. But now, just separating the parts Now we're just going to separate the parts. I try to group them with his minimal groups as possible. So, for instance, I'll do the head, torso, arms and legs something like that. Sometimes I'll separate the detail pieces just to keep more organized. So that's what I'm quickly going through right now. It's obviously all the hard work is done, which is great and Z brush. We're just gonna be cleaning it up a bit if we need to pull some things around. We can do that now. And I'm just going through and dividing everything up a few subdivision levels. I'm gonna be subbing out his mouthpiece for this character now to get the mouths attracting . We actually have the mouth. It's a separate part underneath the geometry. We want to subtract it from similar to a math equation. You have your your top geometry and in the secondary, which gets attracted from the piece. You just go ahead and click that second, but over, which has the kind of eclipse moon looking shape. And then you go to your top part, which is the main head, and then had merged down. And so once we do that thing, will Dina mission and you may have to tweak this bit. The dynamics level may not be high enough, and you'll see this pretty quickly, and then, if it's not just increases like I'm doing. Another thing to keep in mind is if you have your your main part dynamic before you try to do this Boolean operation, it's gonna be a lot cleaner and made be a lot quicker when processes, you know we're the mouth good. I went picked up material and color and fill them just. They make him a little more presentable. It's easier to see the surface and how it reads as well. If you mix of material color, go to this other tab under subtitle and you'll hit Merge visible. So this what this does, it will merge all your active sub tools into one tool, go away and then select in the upper menu. Right now, you'll see that way. Have everything is one central. Right now it's 6.645 million polygons, which is not great for three D printing. Under a 1,000,000 would be great in order to get him lower, and all group together is one we're gonna first dynamic. So when we dine a measure when I keep an eye on the resolution as well. And if the in between cracks, if they start to get too low and geometry just go ahead and up your resolution I ended up using 2080 was pretty good for me. What this does it basically gets rid of all the inside material and just makes it all one shell, which is really important when you're three d printing, especially if it's humongous print. It's going to save you a lot of money and a lot of printing time. It just in concert of all the internal shells, and that's what I'm doing here. Um, I'm gonna may be making a internal shape of our character and then deflating. It's just going over to deformation than negative. Inflated by 5 to 10 if needed. So as you can see, it's kind of pope protruding out. But what this is doing is feeling on the holes. I'm just trying to again make it that that watertight, which you probably hear a lot and three d printing. It just means basically one whole shell. It doesn't have those weird, you know, deep undercuts that won't quite prints or mold properly. So, yeah, once you have this and you're happy with it, just go through and check it out and make sure it looks good. So now I'm just making everything visible and you can see in the innards of the legs right there. You have this weird geometry that just kind of pokes out, and it's hanging out in the middle of your model, which may not be a huge issue, but if you can avoid this, it would be best to do so. So I'm doing just creating cylinder to fill it. Basically, fill emerges everything basic, collects all you geometry, emerges it to one and gets rid of the nasty stuff inside. You guys may not have this problem if you're careful and I was modeling, this thing will be fine. but you still may run into issues, so this is good. This is called filling filling or clay filling your model. It's just a good practice. To tidy up is, well, keeping your model nice. Include, and be careful. You don't want anything to stick out of your model on Be strange. It's all it meant to be internal. Get rid of all the stuff that overlaps again, keeping it just one show. So you're looking pretty good. Everything's looks like it's maintaining pretty well to make his printable. We're gonna go up to our menu of Z Plug in and then decimation Master Bill had in pre process current. Let that do its thing, and then we'll say decimate current. So mine ended up being around 500,000. So I have two cubes in here. One of those, the in short of him is five inches, ideally in action figures. Probably 5 to 6 inches typically. So just keep that in mind when you're making I mean, you don't want them to be 20 feet tall, unless maybe do so. I'm scaling him to five inches, which I think is a pretty good estimate of what I think Ideally, he'll be in the real world. So now once we have this will go to Z plug in again. We're gonna be exporting him now Z plug in three D For an exporter, it's a good and slept your cubes because we know that dimensions of those once we have our cubes, that we can go upto update size ratio. And what that's gonna do is resize our document or a sculpture to the actual size you can see you can check the numbers fume or tabs set selected sub tool size and then export in separate files. Once we have this done, we can export all of them tost Els 10. STL Cleanup And Check: So once we export a model as STL out of Z brush, we're gonna move aunt in that fat once. Where Net Fab. We're going to go to part and say Add part once that loads and processes will see a exclamation point, possibly in the lower right. If we do, we'll go ahead and click the red plus button, which will repair our model. You can just go ahead and head automatic, prepare or simple, repair a goal, run its thing and do a pretty good job of cleaning up your part. Once you have that, you'll say apply repair. Once it does, it's thing it's gonna give us apart, no longer seeing exclamation point in the lower right hand corner, which means it's all good and, well, go ahead and double check our product dimensions. Let's make sure everything's good and the cube to make sure it's five inches and it's all good to then we can go ahead and export our model, and that's it. 11. Final Thoughts: all right. That's it, everybody. I can't wait to see guys projects and see what different characters you do. If you do, Robot, if you do some other alien creature something that makes you happy, anything. And if you guys do carry it, actually be three d printed as well. I'd love to see those posts that you guys have fun. I hope you learned a lot and please leave your comments and questions below.