One of my favorite films is the 1991 movie titled "The Rocketeer."  Seeing the hero arc across the sky wearing a rocket pack just makes me wish for the day that such things really exist.  Until then, perhaps the next best thing is to create my own life-size superhero to inspire my creative efforts.

As background, I built a CNC machine in 2008 and have gradually taught myself the ins and outs of using it over the past several years.  I've gone from simple two-dimensional projects to bas relief to full 3D.  It has a cuttable area of 36" x 24" x 5" and lands squarely in the camp of hobbyist CNC.  Additionally, I am well-versed in a number of graphics and 3D modeling packages.  To duplicate the results here, you'd need access to a similar CNC machine and be reasonably good with 3D software tools.

The subject of this instructable is actually the result of a modeling tutorial titled 3D Modeling in Silo: The Official Guide by Antony Ward, David Randall and Nevercenter.  The chapters in that book take you through a character modeling exercise in which you create this figure using a program called Silo 3D.  This is exactly what I did and the outcome is a compelling blond hovering in a rocket pack with a pistol in her left hand.

It was at the end of this book that I felt I wanted something more for my efforts.  I figured that buildng her as a life-size sculpture would make a kick-ass exhibit and expand my abilities along the way.

Step 1: Assemble your tools

As I've already mentioned, you'll need access to a similar format CNC mill and some software tools.  I'll detail which ones I used.  Other choices are available but I can only speak to what is in my own experience.

Silo 3D is the modeling software and, of course, the book I mentioned if you're looking to create the same exact character.  Alternatively, you can use other programs such as Sculptris, 3D Studio Max, Modo, ZBrush, Blender, etc.  There are a lot of choices out there along a whole range of price points.  Silo is relatively inexpensive and it, along with the book, will cost under $200.00 total.

In addition to the modeling software, you'll need some software tools (generally known as CAM or Computer Aided Manufacturing) to prepare the model for machining.  I own a program called Cut 3D made by Vectric Software and it is the application that allows me to position the pieces, set up the tool paths and create the G-Code that will ultimately drive the CNC mill.  Again, there are other programs that let you do that, but I'll discuss the one that I use.

Next, you'll need something to make her out of.  Since I was going to create a life-size piece, I wanted the material to be as light as possible.  Inexpensive is nice too.  I chose rigid foam insulation from a home improvement store.  The product is Dow Foamular and it is a pink foam available (around me, anyway) in 4'x8' sheets up to 2" thick.  The 2" pieces cost about $25 each and I think I went through about 6 pieces.  I made some mistakes along the way, so it can probably be done with only 4 sheets.

I knew I would need something to tie her all together (a skeleton or armature) and for this I chose half-inch PVC plumbing pipe which is plentiful, inexpensive and easy to work with.

I'm sure some people are cringing at the thought of creating a sculpture out of foam.  While it is light and inexpensive, the surface is not exactly smooth and it can be easily gouged with just a fingernail.  This problem is solved by topcoating it with what essentially is a liquid plastic.  A product called Styrospray 1000 from Industrial Polymers (http://www.industrialpolymers.com) is a two-part liquid plastic that can be brushed on as well as sprayed.  It's about $120 for a 2-gallon kit and I probably used about a gallon on this project.  Unless you have access to a supplied air respirator, I'd recommend brushing it versus spraying.

Other things you'll need are drywall repair compound (I used Spackle), epoxy modeling putty (Magic Sculpt), plywood for the stand and paint.
Any links/info to the CNC machine that you built?
Wow... amazing.. :)
beauty... i wonder how would a wonder woman work ? :D <br>
a beauty... i wonder who would a woman woman work lol ;)
It was probably about $300 in materials for the entire build.
Very nice man! How much it cost you to do??
This is just amazing!!! One of my favorite instructables!!!! -Lee <br>
Oh the things I would make if I had your tools! Wishing! Wishing! Wishing!
Very nice. I love when people know how to properly use a tool. I can't wait to buy my own cnc. I love how you made the pipes structure. I also love how it looks in the end with paint and everything. Well done. 5 stars
That's incredibly awesome?
Amazing! You have that great combo of talent and equipment. Very well done!
Very nice work. I wish I had the equipment and skills with 3D progams to be able to do something like that. You have my vote.
Amazing! Well done! Fiver stars and got my vote!!!!
very slick techniques, love it!
Thanks so much for all the kind words! She was quite the challenge to make and took me into problem solving at just about every turn of the road. At the end of the effort you realize just how far past your comfort zone you had to push in order to finish it. <br> <br>It's very gratifying to see the reaction to the effort. As I said in the write-up, I hope it inspires someone else to do likewise!
What poofrabbit said!!!!!!!!!!!!!Awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I believe i had first seen this in the Shopbot or Vectric forum a while back. I know how much time and effort goes into just the modeling and 3D work long before you get to the cutting stage. Then the hours of cutting, sanding and finishing. So you have a very nice project you should be proud of. Good Job! <br>
WOW! This is just plain WICKED!!!! Very well done!
holy crap, When you said build your own superhero, I was figuring maybe a 6 inch action figure. But wow, man I wasn't expecting a 6 foot sculpture. <br>How cool is that man. <br>I wish I had the materials and machines to do this. Um... brb going to the DIY CNC section to try and build me a CNC or something...

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