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3D Printing -is that the end for sculpting?

Discussion in 'Sculpting' started by Tecumsea, Mar 7, 2013.

  1. Tecumsea PlanetFigure Supporter

    I'm not very up on technology, mainly because my life style in retirement is such that I have a need for very little of it-I have an up to date computer and 7 year old mobile phone which is seldom even switched on and refuse to become a technology Zombie walking around constantly peering at a bleeping piece of 4X2 plastic and becoming suicidal if someone doesn't send me a Text every 5 minutes:rolleyes::sleep:

    I have seen a lot of posts on 3D printing-does it mean that the future is to build something on a computer screen and then just print it out slam it in a mould and sell it? Will it be the end of sculpting as we know it? or are there severe limitations on the process?

    Sorry if this is an over simplification but technology is moving at such a pace,

    Wings5797, DEL, kaz6120 and 1 other person like this.
  2. Gra30 PlanetFigure Supporter

    Interesting Keith as I have thought of this.
    To me it compares to owning a piece of art painted by hand or a digital image.
    Both have their qualities and neither one is better than the other, it is just down to preference.
    I think there is still a way to go for digital sculpting and I don't think that the average person will have access to one or necessarily have the know how and so there will always be a place for sculpting even if conversions for private use.
    I am not sure of the timescale for a digital master to be made so cannot comment on speed but conversions and sculpts by hand can take as little or as long as needed and the result of the finished piece is immediate so I think this has its advantages.
    It will probably take a good few years before it becomes a common tool on its own for the modellers arsenal and will probably run alongside sculpting more frequently at some point, that said there are many sculptors who know their trade by hand sculpting and will stick to that rather than learn the new software which I imagine takes a long time, they also enjoy it.
    As said this is in no way giving a for or against as both have their merits, some of the digital weapons I have seen are the real thing in miniature, but I do think the human form sculpted by a human has its own appeal that would be missed by a computer. The ancient statues and monuments we see hold their test of time because they look correct and ultimately whether by hand or computer, that I think is what the modeller wants, it to look right.
    Best wishes
  3. Gaudin A Fixture

    Currently the limitation is the printers. As soon as quality improves - then, yes, it will be the end of sculpting as we know it. There are already portable home 3d printers developed.
    I think there still will be a market for purists who want figures sculpted by hand, but majority wont bother as long as figures are cool.

    Essentially, with 3D the only limitation is one's fantasy and how well you know your software. You are not limited by scale, accesibility of awkward places,material properties, accidental drops, polishing, drilling, armature or any mistake - Undo button or Load earlier file ensures limitless flexibility.
    When you made a model you can use it as many times as you want- can make a diorama with 10 different soldiers in no time, there are databases of objects for sale, etc.You can go as far as having pattern on every last button. you will never irrevocably loose your master copy.
    The only risk is forgetting to save and back up.

    It doesn't quite add up to art in my mind, I dont see it as valuable as sculpting by hand... but opportunities are insane. Its a shame that it boils down to pixel pushing

    Not for me. There are things you can do in real life putty that I don't think you would ever be able to do, or just wouldn't do in digital, irrespective of printer quality. Some of those things are accidents and some intentional. I think the likelihood of expressing a particualr sculptor's style and character is going to be a lot harder, or at least very differnent in digital.

    Perhaps the analogy is a vinyl LP versus digtial music. The digital might be more perfect but give me the flaws of the LP any day.

    All that should be considered under the provisio that I have never tried 3D scultping.

    ChaosCossack and housecarl like this.
  5. Einion Well-Known Member

    Lemme guess, you're not on Facebook either? :D

    Yep, for a lot of models production will in essence begin this way. There's already a fair amount of stuff produced digitally and output on 3D printers, and via other means.

    I don't think there's any question that eventually it will supersede most manual sculpting, for multiple reasons. The scalability of the digital master will be the primary one - just imagine doing an excellent head portrait for a 1/2 scale bust and never having to do it again, using it as-is or with minor tweaks in future commissions for a 1/9 scale bust, a 1/16 figure and then again at 1/35 scale.

    The current limitations are sure to be overcome in time, just as the severe early limitations on realism in CG effects have all largely been overcome now. I actually think the one thing holding it back most now is output quality, not the software side of things.

  6. JasonB A Fixture

    While I think down the road it will become more and more common, there is a aspect of it that seems to be getting missed (and perhaps I am missing something). To create your own figure or item, it has to be rendered in 3d on the computer. If my recent experience is any indication, this is no small feat. I tried several "easy to learn" 3d programs, and they completely baffled me. I am a former tech support guy, so I understand (or at least I did at one time) my way around a PC. So even if we have the imagination it takes to come up with an idea, you still have to get it rendered and printed, and right now I think that is beyond many of us. It still takes a person with talents and skills I don't possess to make a digitally printed item a reality. Perhaps when it comes down to where you can take a few pics with a camera, upload them, and the machine create a 3d object for you, then it will be something for everyone. As far as I know, thats not possible right now, at least for us common folk.

    As far as it being art, to each their own. I have seen what digital illustrators are capable of doing, and to me, its just a matter of the tools they are using, not skills. If some of our well respected sculptors decided to print rather than sculpt one of their creations, I am sure that, technology allowing, it would be just as much a piece of art then if they had used putty and hand tools. Whether its muscle memory or mouse clicks, I think its whats in the hands controlling the tool, and not the tools themselves, that sets the artists apart.
    Elia and Karlosfandango like this.
  7. kansas kid Well-Known Member

    I saw on TV just the udder day that a 3D printer can use different
    materials besides resin, or styrene. For example, metal, and they're
    pushing toward human "parts" fabrication, i.e. ears, a leg bone, etc.
    Who knows what is ahead in this incredible aspect of the future.

    The Miami Jayhawker
  8. Renéduret Well-Known Member

    I don't believe it's the end of sculpting.

    Imagine, though, what a 3d scanner can bring to you.
    Once a figure is made it could be transponed in any scale.

    I like to have this tools as an extension but I really have to feel the clay and work it, moisten it, spit on it, carve it when baked.
    Need to be able to watch it develop in 3d in front of me, to grab it.
    leave my autograph on it, to say so.
    Elia, Karlosfandango and ChaosCossack like this.
  9. valiant A Fixture

    As a former industrial modeller and CAD/CAM engineer, I view digital sculpting as yet another weapon in the modeller's arsenal, just another tool, if you prefer. Inevitably, there will be cases where digital sculpting will be used over manual, especially in high volume manufacturing environments or where lead times are short. But I still feel that there will be room for both methods, dependent on costs and access to the relevant technology. Personally speaking, I would never be in the position to consider the necessary investment involved in purchasing the technology needed to produce digital masters, so will always err on the side on the manual sculpting, if only from a convenience point of view.
    The argument of the output quality at the moment is a moot point, as there is no doubt that this will invariably improve in a short time! I was involved in the early days of stereolithography, laser sintering, etc, and the progress made in my 5 years was amazing. I think the general concensus is that both methods will co-exist, with ultimately the cost dictating which one is chosen by the manufacturer.
    Just my two pennyworth!
    Karlosfandango, Diegoff and T50 like this.
  10. Martin Antonenko A Fixture

    I think not!

    A 3-D print may seem perfect - but "bloodless", because there is not an individual sculpting style more evident.

    It's like a CD: Perfect but without emotion. And the reason why the old vinyl discs ever experience just a renaissance!

    DEL, crf and ChaosCossack like this.
  11. ausf Active Member

    I don't think the complexities of the human face will convincingly translate in a printable form, just like no matter how well the CG animation is done, it can't compare to a real object.

    For inanimate objects, absolutely and possibly clothing.
    Karlosfandango and ChaosCossack like this.
  12. faust18 Active Member

    I dont want to seem ignorant but are there any examples of figures avalable to veiw using this new technology id like a look to get an informed overveiw so im up to speed
  13. Gra30 PlanetFigure Supporter

    I am following this thread with interest.
    I tend to agree at the speed of technology it with progress swiftly but of course sculptors will still sculpt, either for themselves or conmercial, as many do it because they enjoy it, the same as kit builders build rather than buy pre made and many of us paint rather than buy pre painted.
    All the time they continue I am sure many will still buy, at the end of the day if it is well done people will want it.
    The big companies may very well invest in the technology and maybe some smaller companies who prefer this medium to hands on, but I can't see many due to costs and as said, the reasons behind and enjoyment sculptors get should not be underestimated.
    Ray and Karlosfandango like this.
  14. T50 A Fixture

    I should read all the posts before posting mine...
  15. zodiac Active Member

    A lot of posts here are somewhat misinformed. forget 3d scanning now, things have moved on. This is art, new art, it's a tool just as much as clay, putty, and paint. Just as paint and clay makes a signature of an artists work so does 3D software, as for faces, well 3d printing will capture just what the artist sculpts, simples, the problem at the moment is that printing isn't on a par with the software but that is about to change soon. The problem is called 'stepping' and happens because the print is built up in layers, however fine still has a step. Will it replace traditional sculpting? to a point I would guess but being able to throw real clay around is fun just as throwing digital clay around is too, people will just choose to use whatever tool will get the best results. 3d sculpting opens up more avenues of creativity that's a fact.
    FigureLover likes this.
  16. Richie A Fixture

    Hi All,
    Does this mean a putty bodger like me, may become a sculptor! Well I suppose/dream, but one essential ingredient missing surely is being able to understand then convert human anatomy, posture, drapery etc into a 3D format! You put crap in you will still get crap out.

    I sure as hell can't put folds in the right place now and doing it electronically will mean I put them in the wrong place even quicker. It will have it's uses and technology does move on at a frightening rate, so quality will improve with these quickly. So fair play to all, like previously said it's a new aid/tool in the modellers arsenal.

    Would you also want a machine that could paint your figures for you aswell? (might be good, to get your grey army down) or do you want to put your own stamp and something of yourself into them. Just my thoughts.
    Wings5797 and Karlosfandango like this.
  17. kiwi45 Active Member

    Maybe ask the sculpters, I think they will continue to make figures/bust purely because they enjoy using the talent they have in sculpting. Some may try digital but theyd loose their style perhaps and I personnelly think I would purchase hand made sculpts over computor generated items, weapons, tools etc may be an exception. Long live real sculptors.
    Ray and Karlosfandango like this.
  18. Mark S Guest

    Very good topic to introduce, Keith.

    Well said indeed, Zodiac. I believe you're spot on there. (love the avatar too!)
    #d printing or rather 3d printing as some know it, will without doubt totally replace manual sculpting for commerically produced figures. Some individually crafted sculpts will always remain as long as people continue to practise the art but just as very little furniture is handmade these days and clothing and shoes are bought off the rack it too will only remain as a specialist item.

    How many times do we hear claims that figures are far too expensive these days?..plenty of times here and on other forums. How many times do we have the discussion about recasters and their effect on manufacturers of traditionally sculpted figures.As we all know people are already buying recast inferior quality pieces simply to save money without regard for quality or the effects upon producers of originally sculpted figures.
    These two factors along with rising costs of materials alone will without doubt have traditional manufacturers looking closely at these emerging technologies......well the ones that intend to remain in business over the next couple of decades anyway.
    It's money that will drive this change not the exquiste quality of handcrafted beautifully sculpted figures as compared to a digitally produced counterpart.

    I can appreciate the comments about a fine LP recording and a digital one, still have plenty of ECM LP's myself, but ask yourself how many people even know what an LP is these days let alone the quality of it's sound compared to anything else available digitally. Same thing will happen with figures one day.

    I believe that the wonderful skillfully crafted pieces we are enjoying now, which btw seem to have reached a crescendo in quality lately, will become a niche specialist art form unfortunately.........BUT not too soon I hope.
    FigureLover likes this.
  19. Funky50 Guest

    I saw an episode of QI the other night and saw a small mechanism that was made on a 3d printer on it and it just blew me away with its complexity and was made fully assembled it honestly messed with my head as to how it could be possible I then thought of the implications for this hobby so really interested in this thread as my understanding of this process is a best sketchy ....have looked at a thread on PF of someone who was doing something of this nature with a couple sitting on a park bench which while looking impressive had an unreal look to it in my view ....I don't know how this would translate Ito a finished product but as I say that's my lack of understanding that's at fault..... I think personally time will tell how much of use this will be to our hobby and these things have a way of moving on at alarming rates of progress....and really how much enjoyment do we get from all aspects of this hobby that would just disappear if we could just program a computer to produce anything we wanted and wait for it to be spat out at the end ....Great thread and one I will be following with interest
    Karlosfandango likes this.
  20. FigureLover A Fixture

    CAD/CAM is here and is now a major tool, for those wishing to use it and invest the time to learn it. I have been a trained handmake Jeweller for 24 years and I have been using CAD software for past 8 years in this trade, it takes a great deal of time and money to learn the software, I am still learning its ins and outs. I still look at a job and toss up whether it will be easier to handmake an item or CAD it, sometimes its quicker to handmake, sometimes the opposite. A CAD file that has been printed still needs a lot of prep work to get it to a castable/usable quality
    Also you cant just buy the program and start pumping out digital files that are of any quality any quicker than learning the art of sculpting a figure in clay. You still have to know anatomy and the fine individual features that make up the human body, not everyone can get a grasp of this without training.It is only as good as the person using it.
    As to the point where you will loose the individual style of a sculptor, or be able to recognise a figures sculptor by just looking at it, I dont think that this will be the case. The reason being that you still have to manipulate the digital file to what you think is right in your mind, the same way as Mr Young or Mr Read manipulate clay to what they think looks best in their mind.
    Prices of CAD/CAM will come down and more people will use it (not neccessarily clay sculptors) and technology will get better, the hope is that this will be the better for our very small hobby by keeping kit prices down as well as keeping the high level we see in products at the present
    Elia, Merryweather and Funky50 like this.

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