Do you recall my blog of a few weeks ago – The incredible shrinking Max? As part of that blog I mentioned a website from whence you can order a miniature replica of yourself. This is obviously very handy to keep around in case you forget what you look like (I find it invaluable myself [grin]).
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with the company, which is called Sculpteo. One of the things they offer is a 3D printing service, which you can use to create all sorts of things, from prototype enclosures for an electronic product (very useful if you are creating hobby projects) to … well, just about anything really.
For example, one of the services they offer is to create small 3D Avatars of people (check out the Avatar Introduction on their website). This is rather cool. You get a friend to take a couple of pictures of yourself – one face-forward and the other from the side. You upload these pictures to the Sculpteo website and their artists use them to create a 3D model, which is subsequently given a physical manifestation by means of a 3D printer. I’ve embedded a video from YouTube later in this blog showing the Avatar-generation process.
Nick, my graphics artist / friend / expert / hero (I have to be nice to him because he keeps on helping me out on the graphics front) works in an office just down the corridor from mine. Nick used my camera to take a couple of pictures of yours truly, I sent them off to the folks at Sculpteo, and a few days later my very own Mini-Me arrived on my desk.
I’ve just uploaded my own “Max Meets Mini-Max” video to YouTube (see below). I actually think they did quite well considering how difficult it must be to capture the “Essence of Max” – those rugged good looks, that razor-sharp wit, the indiscernible sense of fashion…
Nick kindly created a side-by-side image for me as shown above. I'm the one on the right (grin). Did you spot the fact that they’ve actually modeled my Hawaiian shirt? Personally I think the “Mini-Max” is really quite good, although I bet they could have created something that was almost photo-realistic if their artist had actually had the real me sitting in front of him or her.
Does anyone really need one of these? Actually, I can think of all sorts of uses for them. For example, there’s some TV news program called News Channel 10 that appears to have had Avatars made of all of their news and weather presenters, and they use these characters as part of their programs and in adverts for their program (I’ve embedded an example below).
Now, this is where I become a little confused, because there’s also an incredibly powerful 3D sculpting program involved. I’ve embedded two tutorial videos below. In these videos you see an artist manipulating what can only be described as a ball of “virtual clay” on the screen – pulling bits out, pushing bits in, stretching things, applying textures, applying colors, and ending up with an incredibly realistic crocodile-like reptilian head.
The thing I’m confused about is who owns this software, where would one purchase a copy, and how much does it cost? The Sculpteo website is spectacularly uninformative on this point, with the result that I don’t know if they created this software and are selling copies of it, or if they are using someone else’s software, or … well, I don’t know.
But whoever does own the software appears to have done a magnificent job. I would like to play with it myself, and I don’t know anything about this sort of stuff. Also, I think that the folks at Sculpteo are doing a great job and they appear to be having a lot of fun at the same time, which is a really good trick if you can manage it!
Max, the software is Sculptris (see intro to tutorial videos), and it is freeware; go to Sculptrisdotcom for more information on the designer, Tomas Pettersson, and the download links. Or Google Sculptris for a slew of links with tutorials, etc. I downloaded it last night, then spent the rest of the evening playing; it is addictive!
As far as who makes and sells this software, some of the catia-style programs used by the auto companies for creating sheetmetal profiles can do great things. My suggestion would be to check with the various modeling software companies that have ads in publications like Design News. But I am sure that there are many others. ON the other hand, I recall some of the 3-D drawings of women done in Autocad 10, by a detailer who was released from a company that I once worked for.
Max, when I first glanced at the left picture, the resemblance to a clay animation model was immediate, wonder if the claymation movie studios may expand with more complex shapes, cool!
Do you see the likeness to farmer of "Chicken Run", or Wallace and Gromit models? ;-)