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If you’re a teacher, designing unique and meaningful artifacts is a great way to engage students in history and art, while putting more quantitative design skills to work. Teachers can help their students think and act like historians and social scientists using Autodesk software to create visual and 3D print models of historical artifacts.

Students develop a better understanding of the past and can better share their insights with classmates by designing their own historically accurate interpretation of ancient masks using 123D Design. In this tutorial, we’ll walk through the stages of designing an ancient mask ready for 3D printing.

Challenge your students to research authentic shapes and designs, and to recreate the most realistic masks that they can. You can find a complete lesson plan devoted to this project, as well as instructional materials like learning objectives, test materials, and evaluation rubrics attached below. Additionally, here are a couple introductory videos to get you started off on the right foot.



Step 1: Download 123D Design

Before you start, download and install Autodesk 123D Design (it’s totally free). 123D Design makes it easy to manipulate all kinds of shapes and create viable designs using numerous materials. For a general tour of the interface and commands, see these short tutorials:

Step 2: Import Mask Kit Files

First, import the mask kit files. If you haven’t downloaded them yet, you can find them here.

Step 3: Arrange Eyes and Nose From Kit

First, choose a set of eyebrows and move them into place on your chosen face using the Move tool. Resize with the Scale tool and adjust as necessary, and make sure the eyebrows are touching so that they will be attached.

Next, select one eye and a nose, and move them into place. Again, resize with the Scale tool and adjust as necessary, and make sure they’re touching the face so that they will be attached.

For a step-by-step video tutorial on this stage, see:

Step 4: Create a Mouth

First, draw an ellipse a little smaller than the desired size of the mouth. Next, draw a slightly larger ellipse that shares the same center point as the first.

Draw a small rectangle, and, using the copy tool, fill the mouth with teeth. Extrude the lips upward, and then extrude the backside of the mouth downward, so there is something to attach to the mask.

Lastly, use the combine tool to turn the whole mouth into one solid piece. For a step-by-step video of this stage, see:

Step 5: Move Pieces Into Place and Mirror

Move the mouth into place using the Move tool.

Move one ear into place using the Move tool. Resize as necessary with the Scale tool.

Using the Polyline tool and the Spline tool, draw the protrusions on one half of the mask. Use the extrude tool to make each profile 3-dimensional.

To mirror features, select the Mirror tool from the Pattern tab, and select the features to be mirrored. Save your file.

For a step-by-step example, see:

Step 6: Combining and Modifying the Mask

Round off some of the sharp edges using the Modify>Fillet tool.

Use the Combine tool to join all the parts of the mask. Once all the features are combined, you can use the Modify>Fillet tool to soften some of the edges that weren’t connected before—like the ones around the eyes, nose, and eyebrows.

Next, add material.

For a step-by-step video of this stage, see:

Step 7: Print!

In order to print parts from 123D on your MakerBot you will need to install the Autodesk 3D Print Utility which will prepare your parts for printing. For more information on the Autodesk 3D Print Utility click here.

You will also need to download and install the latest version of the Makerware™ software from MakerBot. The software is free of charge and can be downloaded here.

Once a part has been created and is ready for printing you can select 3D Print option from the 123D Menu. This will bring up the 3D printer dialog where you can select your printer and options for printing. After setting up your printer options, you will be given the choice to save as a .stl file or send directly to the Makerware software for printing. If your printer is not listed in the Autodesk 3D Print Utility, you can still export to a .stl file directly. This will allow you to use any software your printer requires. This can be done by selecting the Export STL option from the 123D Design menu.

Lastly, if you don’t have a 3D printer, places like TechShop have the tools to turn your design files into physical objects, and staff the people who can show you how. Places like Shapeways can even print them for you.

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