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3D Printing -is that the end for sculpting?

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

  1. Einion Well-Known Member

    I think that's a bit uncharitable, even going back to the T-Rex the modelling and animation could be good enough that you can't tell where the animatronics left off and the CG took over. More recently we have Hulk, Kong, the Tharks. They're not all exactly as good but I don't think it's unrealistic to say that they're convincing at worst, can't-tell-not-real at best.

  2. JonP PlanetFigure Supporter

    We deal with a couple of 3D printing companies and they are producing low volume wargame figures for a couple of clients. Ive had some 1/32 rail sections printed up from my CAD models with the intention of using them as masters for resin castings but they are too complex to cast cleanly. Most of the plastic kit companies new kits are 3D printed before they finally make the moulds.
    I am sure we will start to see more 3D printed figures appearing from the hands/mouses of some talented 'virtual' sculptors as the quality of printing goes up and the cost comes down.
    Regardless of how great the technology becomes you will still need someone talented to create the masters be it in putty or pixels! :)
  3. Merryweather Well-Known Member

    I speak as someone who works everyday with 3D printing, or Rapid Prototyping Technologies as we knew it before the press got hold of it.
    Firstly,there is currently a WORLD of difference between what is affordible to most of us and what is possible. As some people have said,technology moves ever faster and what was a miracle ten years ago is now quite commonplace.As for how this affects our Miniature world , there are companies, such as Airfix and Games Workshop who use digital sculpting,3D modelling and Rapid Prototyping to produce their masters and injection moulds, but these are the BIG boys in the industry. The investment required is phenomenal, not just in the machinery but in materials and the software(never mind the talent) .It does make commercial sense in the world of mass production and especially in licensing( I do know that a lot of movie-related stuff is digitally created ,one way or another), but in the niche market of ours, I think it will be a few years yet before our sculptors are out of work, if ever. I think the person above who compared this to the production of furniture and clothes has got it right- there will still be a market for individual pieces and small production runs.
    There are bureaux which offer a 3D printing service and this is surely the way forward in this regard, but as has been stated, the stepping is the issue with scale models.and until the resolutions get higher, most of the firms in business right now will be safe from the take-over of the MACHINES!!
    Where this stuff is used and is saving manufacturers money is in full-size, real-life protoyping and manufacturing.
    I work as a professional model maker for a firm of architects and we all thought our jobs were on the line when the photo-real CGI stuff started to get popular, but I still have my job,and my full team. My firm uses both CGI and models- thankfully, there is a more personal connection with a tangible model on a table ,however diagramatic, than even the most hyper-realistic video fly-through.
    We were equally worried when we started to use 3D printing, but, as with the introduction of the laser-cutter, it has just become another tool in our arsenal,and our way of working has changed to accommodate it. And when the sculptors start to use digital means, there will still be geniuses, good ones and not so good ones.
    Once the resolution issues are sorted,3D printing will be superb, however , for mastering weapons and hardware,as the same master can be used for all scales, subject to a bit of tweaking at the smaller end.
    I have to get on with work now ,as the time I have taken to type this is exactly the reason I hesitated to join PF in the first place!
    Great topic, but don't believe the hype!
  4. Mark S Guest

    Thanks for the input Merryweather, and please accept our apologies for taking up so much of your time.
  5. pokrad A Fixture

    I think this is not entirely true.
    Yes, most of 3D modelers create a "bloodless" models (including me) because they are not talented and do not have knowledge.
    It is easier to create a figure in 3D for beginner than to do same thing in clay - the web is full of samples of that kind - and they look stiff and unrealistic.
    However, there are few 3D sculptors who can produce beauty and have it's own style very prominent (same as with clay or putty).
    Check this one for example ;)

  6. Merryweather Well-Known Member

    :rolleyes: I didn't mean it like that!- it was my own decision, I am a grown up , now, you know!
    Gaudin likes this.
  7. Mark S Guest

    That's just triffic Merryweather, I'm not quite grown up myself, that may be the reason for some confusion.
  8. Meehan34 A Fixture

    here is a thread dealing with an actual 3D printed figure. It starts with the rendered figure and moves through until it is painted, it even shows the same figure printed in another scale. This figure was at the Atlanta show last month. It might answer some questions you have about when 3D printed figures will start showing up in the market. Andrea, scale75, kingdom death and a host of other companies are already producing masters with the computer. The future is now sirs.

    Jamie Stokes, renarts, Gaudin and 2 others like this.
  9. JasonB A Fixture

    The future is now sirs.

    Indeed it is, thats as good as any sculpted figure I have seen. I can see it becoming like the diamond industry. Synthetic (man made) diamonds are identical to natural diamonds, and can be made basically flawless and in many way superior to "real" diamonds. Yet they are considered less desirable than the natural diamonds as valuable gemstones only because of the process that creates them (and shrewd marketing by De beers and others). Maybe "naturally sculpted" figures will become more valuable and desirable as 3d printing becomes more prevalent?
    I can think of some figs whose pose and subject are very interesting and well composed, but whose execution (sculpting) was lacking, that could profit by being 3d printed.
    Einion likes this.
  10. Gra30 PlanetFigure Supporter

    That is indeed a very impressive figure :))
  11. BobLff257 A Fixture

    I think for the short term we will see the appearance of more and more digitally sculpted figures and, as technology becomes easier to use, the digital sculpt may even become more prevalent although the quality of the sculpt is dependent on the skill of the programmer. Where I think the major breakthroughs will be is in the 3D printing aspect. I think in the near future quality 3D printers will become accessible and affordable, and instead of buying a casting you will buy a download programme and print out your own figure on your home printer to what ever scale you want. Sculpters or manufacturers will 3D scan their patterns if sculpted the traditional way and supply a printed casting if required or download programmes to customers. No more resin casting! That's the way I see things going in the future. (n):whistle::unsure:

    Rob [not a techi!]
  12. Gra30 PlanetFigure Supporter

    Each piece could even be cast in its correct colour and simply glued together, a bit of touching up and some highlights and a finished figure before dinner.
    :) only kidding
    I just hope it doesn't end up taking too much of the enjoyment of the hobby away and I would sooner open a resin figure kit at Christmas than a software programme.
  13. Steve Well-Known Member

    It will probably impact commercial mastering but there will always be folk who go their own way for their own enjoyment, and manual sculpting will remain common for that if no other reason. I cannot wait until the state of all of the components involved in printing are good enough to become common. It's mind boggling to this geezer.
  14. tonydawe A Fixture

    I'm not concerned at all by the rise of 3D digital printing technology.

    Traditionally sculpted figures will continue to co-exist on the shelves with partially and fully digitally produced figures and the market will decide what level of acceptance they will receive.

    Some modellers will embrace these newly produced figures and wont care a bit about how it's made, so long as it comes at the right price.

    Others will favour traditionally hand sculpted figures and will be prepared to pay a bit extra to by something sculpted by a craftsman.

    We have digital art and yet most painters still paint using brushes, so why are we threatened by this new medium. It's evolution gentlemen!!
  15. JasonB A Fixture

    The thing you have to think about in that scenario is whether they (hand sculpted) figures will be available to the general figure community. If digital printing company A,B and C are releasing figures for much less than Sculptor A, we might not see any of those sculpted figures on the shelf. The retailer is going to have to decide whether he has the market (and money to invest in) a few, premium, more expensive hand crafted figures, or whether its better business sense to stock the cheaper figs that sell better. That can create a whole snowball effect where human sculptor isn't able to market his creations to the general public in a financially viable way, so they either stop or market them directly to collectors. Or as limited editions if the demand is there. I don't know how long a sculptor can keep at it that way and how many of them would just drop out of the game. Reduced cost is one of the big reasons pirated figures are so prevalent, and I could see that same thing happening to hand sculpted figs in the market against those that are digitally produced. I don't know how cost effective it can or will become to digitally print and cast (or digitally print them all) instead of paying to have them sculpted and cast, but I'm guessing, like most everything else, it will come down to the economics.
  16. Gra30 PlanetFigure Supporter

    I don't think there is a feeling of being threatened and I think they will co exist as I posted on my initial thread and with the comparison to brushed art and digital art.
    The question was was asking an opinion to whether it is the end for hand sculpting.

    I do think and agree that the production will be taken up by larger companies but not necessarily to the extent of individuals investing in one, I mean that the capabilities of resin casting has been available at a reasonable price but who actually invests in the equipment at the personal use level. There are also a wealth of subjects to be done and only so many will be tackled by the bigger companies, the other subjects will still be done by hand and the production at grass routes and in less quantity.
    Tamiya and Italeri, Dragon etc have used digital and injection moulding for years but hand made and produced afv kits are still in production and purchased as they fill the gap, I don't think we should be thinking that costs will be cheaper with this new medium as already mentioned in a post whether done by hand or on a computer it still needs to be made. Costs would be lower if parts are to be utilised on more than one figure but that can be done today with resin parts. Master prices by hand are reasonable providing there are enough sales of a subject and digital figures will be no different, for this reason I suspect many mainstream figures will be produced, at least at first, you only need to see the number of German and American figures produced by Dragon to see they target the big sellers. If only the master is computer generated and future casts are done by hand in resin I suspect costs will remain the same, resin casting enables multiple moulds and the ability to cast multiple figures, this would only be possible if multiple machines were used and that would reflect on prices.
    My comment on the post above was lighthearted and from a modellers view point taking to extreme that technology can do a lot for us and as said the enjoyment of actually sculpting by hand is still to be remembered the same as other enjoy working with software.
  17. zodiac Active Member

    The general tone here seems to be one of suspicion and threat regarding 3d voodoo. Fear of the unknown? Truth is it won't affect most figure painters in the slightest so why people get their knickers in a twist is beyond me, they will be served with excellent figures to paint regardless if they're from traditional sculpting or digital.There will be good and bad figures produced in both mediums of that you can be sure! It will affect protoype production, it has already and this trend will only increase. That's good, the product is excellent and one needn't have to know if it was produced digitally or not, you will have a resin kit to assemble and paint. It's not like organic labelling on food! To produce quality the user has to know the time honored basics of figurative sculpting, anatomy, no getting around that one - no software package will do it for you so put simply it's a very sophisticated tool that should be embraced, not feared. Actually there is very little difference between traditional and digital sculpting when it comes down to basics, learning the software can be a long process however it's up to the individual in the end. This is a good thing for figurative sculpture in general. Remember, all you have to fear is fear itself.
  18. Piotrec Active Member

    This situation seems to be quite similar when traditional photography faced digital photography.
    For the first few years we saw many photographers using analog and digital media. These days when technology has advanced so much no one is using traditional film. Everyone has replaced their lighting room with a software like Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop. This software gives endless possibilities when developing final image with minimum cost and time effort competing to traditional film developing process.

    It is just enough to look around. Almost every person can call themself a photographer. Millions of pictures are being taken everyday, some of them are exceptional others not so well. Many people did not realize that they got such a good eye for taking pictures before digital era. There was too much hassle with old technology that they did not even try to bother.
    I am pretty sure that something similar will happen to our hobby. Most of us if not everyone will try to sculpt digitally when the technology become more affordable. Some will discover talent others will give up after few tries.

    But imagine all those possibilities. We will need just a software and printer to create figure we dreamt of. Companies could sell files with designed heads, armor, clothes. We could customize a figure from few files with minimum knowledge of the software. Than having a printer in the house you can have it ready for painting in just a few minutes.

    This will change our hobby and we will never look back. It is just like my old good analog camera. It has been sitting on the shelve for over ten years now and collecting dust.
  19. Hammond_Lord Member

    No matter how the 3d printing becomes popular wih surgical precision renderings, I would rather have Taesung's, Mike Good's Jeff Shiu's figures any day! I'm not bashing people who make 3d printer figures, but IMHO, each and every hand sculpted figure bears the imprint of it's creator, it has soul and generaly more appeal to me.

    Imagine if someone would make the "3d sprayer booth", or something like that, where you would just put your figure/model, and the computer would paint it for you. I'll stick to my brushes!
  20. carl reid A Fixture

    For me this is a futile debate!
    It's kind of like asking what do you prefer apples or pears, Rugby or American football, Baseball or Rounders etc.
    Each has its audience who will gravitate towards their prefered chioce.

    I have experience of a company I worked for some ago that went to a seminar about 3D printing and thought they would be able to buy a bank of computers and printers, sack all the sculptors with th exception of one, employ a small group of improvers to ready the prints for production. It never came anywhere close to reality, in fact they had the same amount of master sculptors and improvers throughout and never invested in the equipment!

    In my opinion, to gain the level of skills required to produce a master that is on offer now is a massive untaking, one that will only become a reality to the few!
    For me the most (not all) of the 3D masters I have seen seem lifeless, the man at the keyboard has to have the same imagination and visual interpretations as the sculptor for it to work. The computer only reproduces the info given to it!
    Thats not to say that it can't or don't work in some cases! But for everyone to start buying a PC and 3D Printer and suddenly begin producing works of art seems huge leap of faith.


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