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3D Modeling & Figure Design

What software do you use to make these figures?
What other tools do you use to make these figures?
How does 3D scanning work, and can it be used to create figures?
How does Photogrammetry work, and can it be used to create figures?
How can I learn to design my own figures?
I've decided to make a [Blank] figure. Where do I begin?
What techniques will save me time?

How do I add articulation?
I'm stuck. Can you help?

What software do you use to make these figures?

All my figures are built through a combination of TinkerCAD (for geometric shapes, articulation, and precision measurement) and Meshmixer (for sculpting organic shapes and general free-form mesh manipulation.) Both are completely free.

I also use 3D Builder (useful for viewing and quick fixing of non-manifold meshes), ChituBox (which is the best free slicer for resin printing, but also really good at resizing and hollowing models), and MeshLab, which is not particularly user-friendly, but has some fancy mesh repair and remeshing utilities that you can't find anywhere else.

What other tools do you use to make these figures?
Coming Soon.

How does 3D scanning work and can it be used to create figures?

Coming Soon.

how does photogrammetry work and can it be used to create figures?

Coming Soon.

how can I learn to design my own figures?
the best place to start, if you've never done any 3D design before, is with TinkerCAD. Start simple with a boxy robot, Sonic Screwdriver, costume piece, or something else that contains a lot of simple geometric shapes. My first eleven figures (minus the Servo Robot) were built entirely in TinkerCAD with no other external software or imported shapes.
Focus on getting the fundamentals down before you dive into using a sculpting tool, which tends to be a much steeper and more intimidating learning curve.

Next, learn how to use the Import tool in TinkerCAD to import basic prefabricated shapes from Thingiverse and other sites into your design.

If you want to try sculpting organic structures, I recommend using MeshMixer (it's free and easier to use than most other sculpting software) and start by importing a pre-made model from Thingiverse that you intend to modify, rather than completely from scratch.

I've decided to make a [BLANK] figure. Where do I begin?

When setting out to make a figure, I begin by trying to track down as many high quality photos as I can, from as many angles as I can. My first stop is usually the Doctor Who Photo Research facebook group, since they've got lots of amazing images taken behind the scenes, for publicity, or at exhibitions like Longleat. I also usually watch the episode on DVD, or for missing episodes, either the Loose Cannon reconstruction or Telesnaps, depending on what's available.

Other than picking up the finer details of the costume itself, I'm also looking for specific information. I want to see how the monster moves, so I can plan my points of articulation. If it's a robot or creature that lights up, Is that something I can replicate by adding a LED light brick, or if it's big enough, motorization.

For black and white serials, actual color reference photos (not just colorized) are an amazing reference when I can get them. Remarkably, a number of classic series monsters were quite literally paraded around England in the 60's, so I'm frequently amazed at what turns up in photo archives.

I always try to find at least one shot where the monster is standing level with The Doctor, for sizing purposes. Since I have 5.5" scale action figures for all the classic Doctors, and I know each of the actors' heights, I can extrapolate how tall the monster should be based on how much taller/shorter they are. For episodes where this isn't possible (for example, I couldn't find a single good shot in The Web Planet of the 1st Doctor standing upright next to a Larvae Gun) I'll try to base my measurements off of other actors or stationary objects, and then best guess from there. (For the Larvae Gun, there was a good shot of Ian holding one vertically. William Russell is 6'0" and so is Colin Baker, so even though we don't have an Ian figure, I could use the 6th Doctor figure as a reference to make sure my test printing came out the correct size.)

Once I have reference photos, unless the figure is a blocky robot with nice straight edges, I usually have to start by importing a rough humanoid-shaped mesh into TinkerCAD, then begin sculpting a rough form of the proper body mass out of geometric shapes, before exporting the blobby "Michelin Man" model into MeshMixer where I can smooth it out and make it more organic looking. For complex surface details like fur, stone, and scales I will typically import textures from free (and free to use) models on Thingiverse or TurboSquid to build up the appropriate surfaces, and them reexport back into Meshmixer to clean up and hide any rough edges.

I'll then usually spend the next couple of weeks bouncing back and forth between TinkerCAD and MeshMixer until I have a solid unarticulated "statue" with arms outstretched in a T position.

Then comes the bane of my existence; adding articulation.
Even though I've created a number of premade Left/Right Positive/Negative molds for knees/elbows, and shoulder/hip sockets, getting everything to work as intended often takes several rounds of prototyping, to get pieces in just the right position so that they bend correctly without being too tight, too loose, or in the wrong direction. This is the least fun part of the process, and why when I show off a brand new figure design, it usually stays in the Beta state for a couple of weeks until I'm absolutely positive it works as intended.

WhaT techniques will save me time?

Coming Soon.

how do I add articulation?

Coming Soon.

I'm stuck, can you help?

If you have specific questions about a design you're working on, don't hesitate to ask the 3D Printing Doctor Who facebook group for assistance. There are over 1000 of us on there, many with varying degrees of sculpting/customizing knowledge. Depending on what software you're using, I may not be able to help you, but somebody else will.


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