Archive for the ‘ CG ’ Category

4WOC : Week 1

I’d heard of ’30 days of creativity’ before:  Sort of a forcing function to get the creative juices flowing.  I thought I’d try my hand at it, but instead, I’ll call it “Four Weeks Of Creativity”.  I’ve done plenty of 3d printing since my last post… I’m just a lazy blog poster.

Starting Nov 11th, I will BE CREATIVE!  This one post will hold an overview of what ‘creative’ thing I did each day for the first week.

Forward to Week 2

Week 1

Week 1 is now complete!  See notes for individual days below.  The final result is…..:

Day 7 : Sunday, Nov 17th, 2013

I’ve spent the past week working on the above Processing sketch I’ve coined ‘Orbital’.  It started out as just an idea of some floating cubes, and has turned into this:  A particle\physics sim.  Multiple light sources orbit around a central sun, colliding into multiple other bodies.  I wrote all the particle physics and collision, was fun to remember how to do all that.

My hope was to replace the light sources with some fancy-rendered OpenGL sprites with glow.  It appears that on my version of the mac (10.8.2) doesn’t recognize their OpenGL libraries properly… so no dice there.

Today I tidied up the code, created the above movie, an generated the below executables.


  • Processing source here.
  • Mac App here. (bigger than it needs to be based on its inclusion of Java)
  • Windows exe here.
  • Linux here. (untested)
  • Use mouse + wheel to orbit camera.
  • “s” : save an image
  • “r” (toggle) : Start recording an image per frame.
Time today:  about 2 hours.
Total time on this project over the past week:  Roughly 12 hours.

(and now for the previous days…)

Day 1 : Monday, Nov 11th, 2013

I haven’t done any work with Processing for a long time.  Thought I’d get back into it for a bit.  Today I:

  • Installed Processing 2.1
  • Wrote simple sketch with camera control, and 3d mesh rendering.  Download the sketch here.
  • Total Time:  About 1:45

Day 2 : Tuesday, Nov 12th, 2013

Continued to work on sketch from yesterday.

  • Now have mobile light source.
  • Cubes have random rotation, opacity based on distance to center.
  • Download the sketch here.
  • Total Time: About 1:00

Day 3 : Wed, Nov 13th

More sketch work:

  • Adding a trail to the lightsource. Remembering about Arrays in Processing. Cubes no longer delete and rebuild: stay persistent and rotate. Adding a top-down directional light, making background slightly brighter.
  • Download the sketch here.
  • Total time:  Just over an hour.

 Day 4, Thurs Nov 14th

  • Sad day:  Internet problems coupled with my boys homework really cut into creative time.  Only got half an hour in.  Started to turn the light source into a physics sim to collide with the cubes (now spheres for easy of collision).  Hopefully more to show tomorrow!

Day 5 : Fri Nov 15th:

  • Re-wrote the camera system to use the PeasyCam Processing library. Makes using the camera really easy, and resolves some issues with the new physics system:  The light source is now a dynamic body orbiting the center of the world.  It lost its trails, but they’ll come back.
  • Download the sketch here.
  • Total time:  1:30.

Day 6, Sat Nov 16th:

  • Good progress today:  Have physics fully working.  Light now collides with the balls, and the balls all collide with each other.  Changed the drawing style on the light-trail to look better.  Created LOD system on the balls for better performance.
  • Download the sketch here.
  • Total time: about 4 hours.

Latest 3d print: mUm haUs

I was a little late to the ‘birdhouse competition’ over on Thingiverse, but my mother loves birds, so I created these as a gift. They are called ‘mUm haUs’ since ‘mum’ is an affectionate name I use for my mother.
In all honesty I’m not sure if a bird would live in these or not, they may just become a decorative art piece ;)

Both were modeled in Maya. haUs1 started with a poly sphere, and haUs2 was done with sub-d’s. haUs1 is fashioned after a gord, and haUs2 kind of looks like a mutant Smurf home :)
They both have the intersecting words mUm & haUs embossed on the bottom.

Build instructions and files are available over on Thingiverse.

Latest Prints: Innsmouth Monster, and the Hulk

First, a disclaimer:  I modeled neither of these prints.  Everything up until now were simple designs I’ve come up with.  But after showing the work around the office, it piqued the interest of one of our extremely talented modelers, Franco DeRosa.  He had interest in turning his ZBrush sculpts into something physical, and I have interest in trying more challenging prints  Based on that, the below prints were born.  First, the final (painted) results from my Makerbot Replicator, then I’ll cover the process to get there:

Before any of the prints were started, Franco went through the pains of booleaning all the mesh together (since it was originally modeld for visual beauty, not 3d-printing consistency), making sure it was water-tight, and running it though both Meshlab and Netfabb Cloud to make sure of the consistency of the 3d models.

Innsmouth Monster

Franco did an amazing sculpt of the Innsmouth monster, based on the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft.  By the end, this print ended up being the largest one (volume-wise) I’ve done to date (but not longest print time).  Before I printed the large 9″ version, I printed out multiple smaller ones changing the print orientation : First I tried slicing it bottom to top, but this produced many artifacts under his chin I didn’t like.  So I laid it down on its back and printed it that direction, with support material:  While it deferred most of the errors to its back, the front looked great, so I decided to print the large version this way.  Here are 3.5″ examples I printed at varios resolutions to check how it would look:

Left: 3.5" 100 micron, printed back to front. Middle: 200 micron, back to front. Right: 200 micron, bottom to top.

After I figured out the back-to-front print direction was preferable, I set out to print the large versions, at 100 micron.  This process ended up being fraught with problems.  I had multiple “air print” failures on both of the prints, which I think came down to a couple issues:  A.  The orange Makerbot filament was tangled, a lot, on the last 1/3 of the spool.  I didn’t realize this until later, and ended up unspooling the remainder, and respooling it.  After that, no more print problems.  B.  The print didn’t seem to like printing the front flat base of the pedestal.  It would quit (air print) right at that location.  My only guess is that all the fine detail caused the printer to slow down, and somehow jammed the print nozzle(?).  In all cases I was able to catch it and reload the filament (by random luck), but on the print I kept for myself, I ended up having to fill in the errors with putty & sanded it, before painting.

The large 9″ 100 micron versions, in the printer:

The final painted version looks like a pewter monster-bust:

Print Info:

  • Material: Makerbot Orange PLA
  • Print temperature: 220c
  • Slice height: 100 micron
  • Print time:  25hr, 15 min
  • Print weight: 183g, additional removed support weight : 53g
  • Print surface:  Blue Painters Tape (hadn’t yet switched to removable Lexan)
  • Print/slice software: Makerware
  • Other:  Raft, support material


Just like the Innsmouth Monster, Franco did an amazing job on Red Hulk.  And like the monster, there were a variety of “air print” problems on the Hulk.  To condense my findings, it came down to this:  I switched to some gray filament from ToyBuilderLabs (who I’d read a lot of good things about) that Franco had picked up.  And just like the previous orange filament, it had multiple tangles (when I reported to this to ToyBuilderLabs, the responded promptly and offered to replace the spool), but this time, the tangles were immediate (the tangles on the orange didn’t show up until the last 1/3 of the roll).  But I didn’t realize until another air print happened, and I noticed that the spool on the back of the machine was higher than it should be:  the stepstruder had physically lifted the whole spool against the strain of the tangle.  So, I again began to unspool the filament, and hit one tangle so strong it physically broke the line.  Ironically, that was the last tangle in the spool.  Secondly, I replaced the default Replicator delrin plunger with a prototype “grub screw” version (that the Replicator 2 now uses) Makerbot had shipped to me last year (before the Rep2 was released), so I could better control the tension of the filament.  However, even that failed on a print, when the vibration of the process vibrated the grub screw loose.  Frustrated, to fix it, I took an allen wrench, shoved it in the screw, then affixed the allen-wrench to the stepstruder via a rubber band.  50 hours of printing later, it still seems to be a good solution to anchor that thing in place :)
The Hulk was such a ‘square’ shape, I printed it from bottom to top, but still went through the process of creating a 2″ version @ 200 micron,, a 4″ version @ 100 micron, and finally a 5.7″(ish) version @ both 100 & 200 micron.  Once all the air print issues were resolved, I printed out all those versions no problem.
Here is the 5.7″, 100 micron hulk mid-print, and final with support:
Comparison of 5.7″ 100 micron hulk, 5.7″ 200 micron painted hulk, and 100 micron 4″ hulk:
And the final painted version:

Print Info:

  • Material: ToyBuilderLabs Gray PLA
  • Print temperature: 220c
  • Slice height: 100 & 200 micron
  • Print + support weight: 198g (for 5.7″ 100 micron)
  • Print time:   5.7″ 100 micron:  36 hours.  5.7″ 200 micron: 26 hours. 4″ 100 micron : 16 hours
  • Print surface: Removable Lexan
  • Print/slice software: Makerware
  • Other:  Support material

Final Thoughts

It took a couple weeks to get each print “tuned in” and to get past all the “air print” issues.  But as I type this another 36 hour hulk is being printed out.  With these printers, its either feast or famine ;)


Latest 3d prints: Bracelet & Vases

Done a bit more experimenting with the Replicator (looks like MakerBot has taken that page down.  Hmm…) over the past month:

Images first, info second:

Printing with nylon:

I ordered a couple spools of Taulman 618 Nylon filament because… why not?  It’s fun to try out new printing mediums.  Using a technique similar to my ‘shatter vase‘, I created the above bracelet.

Nylon is an interesting material to print with: Based on what I’ve read, it ‘retains water’ more than other filament types, and durning extrusion (@ 240c), there was a lot of hissing and popping at the extruder head:  Water vapor was boiling during the extrusion.  I ended up baking the roll of filament in my oven at 105c for just over and hour, an that seemed to solve the issue.  It also partially melted the plastic spool the filament was on :S

Since it’s a flexible material, you’re able to bend it open and get it around your arm.  If you printed that same design with some other material (ABS/PLA) you’d want to model the slice larger.

Download the .stl files for printing & get more info over on Thingiverse.


While reading a Dwell magazine, I saw a cool of a cool geometric lamp-shade.  That gave me the idea to create some simple polygonal-looking vases in Maya.  “Vase Trifecta” was the result seen above.  I’d just purchased some new ‘Orange’ PLA while at the Bay Area Maker Faire, and was ready to try it on something.  It printed great!

Each vase was about 15 minutes of modeling in Maya.  The big change here was I started creating my own ‘custom profiles’ in Makerware.  These vases were printed with 4 shells, no infill, and no roof.  So while the 3d models are enclosed solids, I only print out the ‘outline’.

The large and small vases I printed at 200 micron, while the medium vase was 100 micron:  It looks really smooth, nice finish.

Download the .stl files for printing & get more info over on Thingiverse.

Latest 3d print : Shatter Vase

I’ve been interested in Voronoi diagrams for a long time: I really like the organic cellular structure they create.
I ran across a set of pluigins for Maya called SOuP that allow for the ‘shattering’ of 3d mesh via a Voronoi algorithm. I set about to writing a Python script I could apply to any volumetric polygonal solid in Maya to apply this shatter (the by-hand process is over on my Mel Wiki), and this vase was the first usable version I came up with: I modeled the smooth “interior” section of the vase first, and then generated a slightly larger version which I ‘shattered’, and booleaned the two together. It is now a trendy art-piece in my bathroom window. For the pics with the blue-glow, I just dropped a small LED in there .

Note, it is not water-tight: Just for fun I filled it with water: There’s still some sloshing around now inside the print…

  • Printed with ‘natural’ PLA on Makerbot Replicator, using “medium” settings in Makerware
  • Extruded at 210 deg, HPB off
  • 2 shells, 5% infill
  • Printed in about 5.5 hours, weights 85g, which works out to $1.91 in filament cost (for a $45 spool).

You can download the .stl for printing over on Thingiverse

I had some other experimental prints dealing with Voronoi shattering that led up to this one, which you can see in the below image:

  • The print on the far right was my first attempt:  That was 12 hours in, before the printer stopped extruding :(  But it shows off some of the cool infill patterns and support materials:  It was a little over 3″ cubed, had it finished.
  • The print 2nd from the right printed successfully:  I did a full volumetric shatter on another smaller cube.  I duplicated the object in Maya:  One of the objects I did the process where I convert the wireframe to a polygonal solid via blobby-particles.  the other object I strategically deleted different Voronoi chunks, and then merged the two together.  The final version looks like random polygonal volumes held together by spider-webs.
  • The remaining prints are unrelated, but make a nice backdrop ;)