Introduction: Creating a Wood Sculpture Using a 3D Scan: "Oh, That We Would Know Where Abundance Is Found"

Picture of Creating a Wood Sculpture Using a 3D Scan: "Oh, That We Would Know Where Abundance Is Found"

This sculpture explores the immediate satisfaction that can accompany material wealth in contrast to the deeper satisfaction that we can experience in relationship with God. The figure is suspended in between these realities.

This is a life-size, hand carved sculpture that is suspended from an I-beam. I used a 3d print as a model for constant reference during the entire process.

Step 1: From 3D Scan to Model

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For this sculpture I began by 3D scanning a person from my local community lying backwards on a bench. This helped create the expression of falling. I uploaded the scan into Netfabb in order to remove the bench, and created several rectangular prisms, which I joined together using the boolean union tool. This gave the figure the impression of being physically stretched from the fall it was experiencing.

Once the file was finished I scaled it to 1/4 of the original scan in order to use it as a working model for my wood sculpture. I printed it using a 3D printer, and was able to have a model I could reference constantly through the glueing and carving process.

(Note: the image shown of my model is after it has been cast in bronze. I typically work from a PLA model and cast after the life size sculpture is finished. If you're interested in the process of casting a bronze sculpture from a 3D printed model, you can find that at:

Step 2: From Model to Sculpture

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The process I use in my sculptures involves taking large pieces of Basswood Lumber and cutting them up into hundreds of smaller pieces. The dimension of each piece for this sculpture were 1.25"Wx1.25"L and the rods were cut at different heights, as shown in the photographs. This could be done more quickly by purchasing square dowel rods, but it would cost a good bit more.

Using the 3D printed model for reference, I take measurements from it and scale them up by 4 to reach the correct size. These measurements are used in order to glue the correct number of rods for each row which reduces the amount of carving that has to be done.

Step 3: Roughing Out and Carving

Picture of Roughing Out and Carving

Using the model for measurements I draw a rough profile from each side and begin carving using a chainsaw. This process I call roughing out, because I work towards creating a rough, almost planar, expression of the form. I prefer using an electric chainsaw because it doesn't create fumes, and it is easy to start and stop.

Once the sculpture has been roughed out I draw all of the details on the surface and carve them with hand chisels. This is the most extensive part of the process, but also the most rewarding for me personally. I continue to refine all of the information, constantly comparing the sculpture to the model (Note: always keep your chisels sharp!). I have begun to appreciate the way 3D scanners render the figure and I carve the sculpture to the same level of information found on my 3D print.

For this sculpture I decided to create a forest that would hang down from the torso of the falling figure, so I hand carved 39 small trees to install.

Step 4: Painting and Gold Leaf

Picture of Painting and Gold Leaf

While much of this sculpture was left as bare wood, a few elements were painted using acrylic and gold leaf. The paint chosen to match the I-beam this piece is hanging from. The gold leaf found on the trees and the shoe were intended to create a contrast between material wealth and deeper spiritual wealth.

Once the sculpture was finished and painted, the trees were installed.

Step 5: Installing

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This piece was being installed at a gallery that had I-beams running across the open ceiling. To suspend this sculpture (weighing approximately 80lbs) I screwed 4 large screw eyes into the top of the sculpture, deep enough to be hidden from viewers. Using a lift, and a few very helpful friends, we hooked 3/8" cable wire to these screw eyes and suspended the sculpture from an I-beam.


Sabbadeus (author)2017-02-10

This is a really really nice piece of artwork. I would gladly have something like this at home. Great work!!

justinarcher7 (author)Sabbadeus2017-02-10

Thanks so much! If you're interested, I have smaller bronze versions of many of my works including this one @