3D Print a Figure: Scaling and Smoothing

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Instructor Rick Barrett

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  • Duration: 08:58
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Learn how to freeze the pose of an animated character, and adjust the scene in preparation for 3D printing

Learn how to freeze the pose of an animated character, and adjust the scene in preparation for 3D printing. Set the proper scene scale using the Object tool when objects are rigged and animated, and disable textures and phong so you see what the 3D printer sees. Add smoothing back in using Subdivision Surface generators, and use simple cylinders to a pedestal for the figure.



- For this 3D printing project, I wanted to explore how to take an animated character model, and transform it into a 3D print. So I went and grabbed the farmer that we created for the Maxon Invasion game that was in our Unity project. The nice thing is that this farmer has already been animated with a whole bunch of actions for the purposes of the game. So we can kind of scroll through here and see what type of pose we might want this farmer in for our 3D print. So we've got a few actions there, we've got sort of the run and pump, the fist pump, I don't think we want the defeat for our action. Why don't we take something like this frame here, where he's kind of running. I think that's a pretty cool pose for us to 3D print our farmer in. The first thing I like to do with 3D prints, even for things that are more organic and not as precise, is to get things in the proper scale so that I can start visualizing and building things in the proper dimension. So first of all let's see how big this farmer is. If we go ahead and switch him to the model tool, and we have the farmer null at the top, selected. We can go down here to the coordinates measure, and switch the drop down here to size plus. And that's going to give us the size of the entire hierarchy. So we can see here that this model is 1,886 millimeters tall. That's going to be way too large, so let's go into our project settings and scale this. So the first thing we're going to do is set the project scale into millimeters and we're going to set it to 0.1 millimeters. And that got us to 18.868 millimeters, which, if we use my toggle units script, which just really quickly switches into inches, you can see that that's about three quarters of an inch. So three quarters of inch is a little bit small to be printing this guy. I actually want it to be more like three and three quarter inches, so we need to scale him. You might be tempted to use the scale project command here, or even to just switch into the scale tool and start dragging, but you can see that that's going to create a mess. And the reason why is that this guy has already been rigged and animated. So, instead of scaling the model, we need to scale the object axis. So I'm going to undo what I did there, and instead, what we're going to do is switch into the object tool instead of the model tool, and we can go ahead and scale now by dragging. We can just keep dragging until we hit the number we're looking for down here in the coordinate manager; three and a half inches. Now, if you want to do that in numerically, you can also just select the farmer null, go into the coordinates and type in a scale factor here for all three axes. This scale here in the object coordinates is actually scaling the object axis, not the model. Now we have our farmer scaled like we want him, we can go ahead and hit the S key to frame again. And if you look closely, you'll notice that the straps are really messed up here, and the reason why is that we've got a jiggle deformer here that was just adding some little extra secondary animation, and obviously we don't need that in a 3D print. It's also got a stored object state in it. It's sort of the way the jiggle deformer works. So, what we need to do is uncheck that jiggle deformer. Turn it off so that it doesn't have any effect on the model anymore. So now we have our farmer in the pose we want, and at the size we want, and the next thing we need to do is turn off the visibility of textures because, once again, our 3D printer isn't going to print texture, and so it's a little deceiving for us to look at it. So we'll go ahead and go to the options here, on the view panel, and just turn off textures. We could delete the textured tag, but we might actually want to reference it later, so I'm going to leave it there. And without textures it's actually kind of cool because our farmer actually turns out looking a little bit more like a toy soldier like you might have played with when you were little, or seen on Toy Story. The next thing we need to do is disable the phong because, once again, 3D printers don't have phong. Phong is a display technology that allows you to see a model smoother than it actually is by merging the normals together. So we need to just go ahead and delete these phong tags. So I'll select the phong tag there on the body, as well as the phong tag on the shotgun. What you see now is that our model is not smooth enough at all. That phong was adding a lot of smoothing in this case. So what we need to do is add some smoothing back in. Now, we've looked in previous projects at how to add smoothing to spline based objects by adjusting the spline subdivision. With a polygonal object, the easiest was is to use a subdivision surface object, so that's what we'll do here. Now, you want to make sure to put the subdivision surface at the right level. If we put the subdivision surface as a parent of the body-- and I'm just going to hold down the Alt key so that it's automatically made a parent of the selected object-- you'll see that we lose our pose. That's because the subdivision surface is being applied before the body and the skin deformer now can't affect the weighting that's on the body object. So we're going to undo that and instead we're going to select the top-level farmer hero. And I'm going to again, hold down the Alt key as I create the subdivision surface object. Now you see that we get the farmer smoothed out, and still in his pose. Now, we need to do the same thing with the shotgun. We're going to need a subdivision surface down there as well. Now, another thing I know I'm going to need to do is go ahead and add a pedestal for this guy to stand on because, obviously, this is not going to work. He's not going to stand up right like that. So, what we'll do is just go ahead and create a cylinder object and we'll go ahead and scale it down to pretty short and I'm just kind of doing this by eye. Then we'll go ahead and scale it up. I actually do want to scale it non-uniformly because I want to make it sort of a oval type shape. We'll move this so that his back foot's sort of at the back of the pedestal. That's probably a little bit bigger than we need, so we'll scale it down just a bit more. And let's take a look. I'm going to go ahead and put the oval to the front just because he's leaning forward so that'll help support his weight. That looks pretty good like that. I'm going to go ahead and actually scale it out just a smidge more. And I also want to go ahead and add a fillet onto this cylinder just to round it out a little bit. So I'm going to turn on fillet here, but I'm going to make the fillet really small. Let's go ahead and switch back into millimeters actually. I'm going to hold down Shift-C and type toggle units to use my script to once again go into millimeters. And we'll go ahead and make that 0.2 millimeters so it's just a smidge of rounding. Now I also need to add something to support the foot. Now, I could just do 3D printing supports for the foot but I think I need something that's actually going to stay there and always support the foot. Not something that I'm going to be tearing away at the end of the 3D printing process. So, for that, let's go ahead and create another cylinder. This one's going to need to be taller, and we're going to scale it down. Again, I'm just going to do this kind of by eye because I don't really need to be precise here. This is going to be smaller than that. Move it down under the foot, and we've got something like that. So I think that'll work right there. So now we've got our farmer more or less set up the way we want him. In the next tutorial, we're going to look at how to finish preparing this farmer for 3D printing.
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