I've been watching the 123DMake software and output for a while - seeing all the cool cardboard, wood, and plastic structures other folks have made was inspiring.   I wondered if I couldn't use that technique as a starting point for a "fine art" piece - or - a less expensive way to make a large-scale rapid prototype (although now having gone through the process, the word "rapid" doesn't really apply - lol).  I decided to do a "proof of concept piece" to see if it was a viable technique - and to see just how much work would be involved.

I picked a model that would be pretty challenging (all curves) but not ridiculously complex.  There are limits as to how delicate your details can be and still come through on the "printed" core - but adding details would be easy later on in the process.  It is a great way to obtain the overall structure of a piece.


Even though it's dramatically less expensive than having a rapid prototype printed (3D print), it's still not terribly cheap.  I got 40% off on my laser cutting and it still cost $115 for the service.  You *could* cut out all of the pieces yourself, but I'm in favor of retaining all the sanity I can - lol.  Once everything is added up, you could be looking at a few hundred dollars once you add in filler, primer, paint, sandpaper, glue, etc.  The price will be dependent on the size and complexity of your project (you pay by the linear inch of cut for the laser cutting service as well as materials) and whether you decide to go for less expensive materials (paints, primers, etc).


Cardboard "core" sculpture
Body Filler (I used the Evercoat brand as it's the smoothest I found)
Plastic spatulas (some way to spread and mix the body filler)
Glue (I used yellow glue because it allows for some movement as you place layers of cardboard)
Weights (some way to clamp the layers as they dry)
A few pins (used to align the layers with each other)
Sandpaper (I didn't use very much, really - maybe a sheet of each - 80, 150, 220, 320, 600 grits)
Primer (a good quality FILLER primer - I used a catalyzed filler primer by Keystone - #8882)
Paint (if you want it - could be rattle can paint - or something more exotic)
Sureform or Rasps (used to shape the rough filler)
Misc (this is the catch-all category - tape, drop-cloths, etc)

Step 1: Process Your Model

Before you import your model into 123D Make, be sure to think about any ways you might need to support it while working on it.  In my case, I knew that I needed a way to "hold on" to the model without actually touching freshly painted parts, so I booleaned a 3/8" hole into the core of the model in my 3D software before exporting it to 123D Make.  This hole was then laser-cut into each layer (far easier than drilling it later) and when the layers were glued up, it allowed me to insert a 3/8" steel rod to act as a "handle" while working on the model (especially painting).

Once you import your model into 123D Make, the first thing you'll probably want to do is to choose the material and thickness that you intend to use.  Knowing the thickness of the material you plan to use is *critical* in order to get the best (non-distorted) results.  Next, you'll want to set your scale - overall dimensions of your final model.  Next choose the best layer orientation for your model - one that will minimize or eliminate unconnected parts or leave you with small or unsupported structures.  When you are happy with your results, export your templates and either cut them out yourself, or have a laser-cutting service do it for you.
Beautiful man! Would love to see more of your work
<p>Thanks! Well, if you REALLY want to, you can check out my online <br>portfolio: http://www.joewilliamsen.com - it's been offline for about a <br>year, but I finally forced myself to slog through and update it - lots <br>of different kinds of work there.</p>
<p>Hi Jwilliamsen</p><p>Again me. I use different method remove material/sand. Unfortunately 123D Make it horrible for making that type work.</p><p>It makes sections/layers with lacks of material &gt;&gt; </p><p>http://forum.123dapp.com/123d/topics/how_algorithm_work_stacked_slices</p>
Hi Dominus,<br><br>It looks like you used wood - very interesting :) Also, the thickness of the material must have been slightly more than the cardboard I used - the model looks a *little* taller than mine. <br><br>The technique is not really ideal for high-precision work. You are correct in that stacking cardboard requires a lot of filling and sanding. The good part about this technique is that you can make a large model for not a lot of money. Printing this with a more accurate 3D printer would be very expensive - at least for now. I'm hoping that in the future, printing large models will be more economical as I have a lot of models I'd like to print :)<br><br>Thanks for sharing your work - it looks good!<br><br>Joe
<p>Hi tonioram,</p><p>I just downloaded, extracted, and opened the file in both 123DMake V1.1 and V1.4 without a problem (Windows 7 64-bit on PC). What I would try first is to re-download the file and see if you still have the problem. If you do, I would then try to find an example 3dmk file and see if you can open it. Not trying to insult you, but you did extract the file from the ZIP first, right?</p>
<p>I get an error open the .3dmk file.</p><p>&quot;Sorry, the application could not open the file because it is not valid 3dmk file.&quot;</p><p>How can I open the file in 123D Make?<br></p><p>Thanks in advance.</p>
Great instructable!. Will use these tips in the future. Thanks :0)
very cool.
AWESOME :) <br>
can you explain more of what did you use on step 3? I dont know if in my country have that.
Evercoat is a brand of plastic &quot;body filler&quot; sometimes referred to in generic terms as &quot;Bondo&quot; (the first company to produce talcum and polyester filler). &quot;Body filler&quot; or &quot;body plastic&quot; consists of a powder suspended in a polyester resin and has a paste-like consistency. Once mixed with a catalyst or &quot;hardener&quot; you will have about 5-7 minutes of working time (depending on how warm it is) before it starts to firm up and is too stiff to spread. Body filler should be available at any store that sells car body repair supplies. There are several brands available in the US that vary in quality and workability, and in this case I found that the Evercoat brand seemed to be the easiest to work with and sand.<br><br>I hope that answers your question - if not - just clarify what part is confusing and I'll answer what I can ;)
I knew a guy how used it to fix a radiator leak. just forma a golfball sized glob of it and pressed it into place over the hole. It worked until he sold the car a couple of years later.
it&acute;s like putty/mastic?
Not really. Putty would be too difficult to work with, and mastic is more of an adhesive. Body Plastic is designed to fill, be easy to feather, and easy to finish. Here is a YouTube video of someone applying body plastic to a car body : <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmifQvyC8Zo" rel="nofollow">Applying Body Filler</a>
just want you to let you know* xD
thanks I was investigating the body filler online and look at these page: http://www.secondchancegarage.com/public/555.cfm<br>it says these: &quot;Mixing the filler on cardboard isn't a great idea, since the paper itself will absorb some of the styrene solvent and upset the chemistry. Also, the styrene will release any trapped chemicals in the cardboard, so unless you know precisely where the material came from and how it was handled, use a sheet of glass or plastic or freezer paper.&quot;<br>just one you to let you know hehehe thanks for the help! I&acute;ll seek alternative
by the way, excellent job!!! it&acute;s awesome!
Thanks :)
Very pretty. Inspiring.
Wow what a great job. It looks Art Studio quality. Congratulations on such a great project!
I don't think the back can bend that way... But the piece is beautiful, just makes me a little uncomfortable to look at because it makes me feel like my back is breaking..
Ah, never underestimate what the human body is capable of. You might want to check out the Ross Sisters to see some stuff that will make you rethink the term &quot;flexibility&quot;: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1J3NLNWAPU
All I can say is WOW! Very impressive! Bravo!
Very appropriate...
iMPRESSIVE, and BeautifulMike
Beautiful work! I look forward to adopting this process for some of my own creations.
Thank you for posting this. Absolutely brilliant and using pearl paint was a genius thing to do.
Just wow... I couldn't even do the first step. And i find myself kinda talented...
now if you wanted a real challange how about making a multi part mould (similar to how you did in your tablet stand instructable) from this and then pulling a carbon fiber copy of this model out of it ;)
Now THAT would be a challenge of both skill <em>and</em> sanity - lol.
Beautifully done and a very artistic representation. I could easily see a bronze casting of this piece being sold in an art gallery. Thanks to your instructable I'm inspired to learn more about 3D modeling and laser cutting and would love to try it myself. <br> <br>The variety of your interests and ability to turn out such an impressive body of work is fascinating to me. I envy your talent.
<p>I disagree.</p>
lol... I was thinking rubber... as in &quot;inflatable&quot;. ;-)
inspirational, I want to have a go. Great instructions too. I should share this with the art department.
Is it possible to export the profiles as a series of jpg files, or as a PDF file?
Yes - you can export from 123DMake in either EPS or PDF formats.
Brilliant work, have you got the files or templates for the cardboard design?
The 123DMake file is attached - you can produce export templates from there ;)
also is this torso taken from your other instructable &quot;from 3D to reality-making a resin sculpture from a CG character&quot;? it looks very similar, with the position of one leg changed, and some detail removed..... that was an inspiring instructable too :)
You know, I thought I had the model, but I think I tossed it. It was a quick extraction from another rigged model and more of a test than anything else. I also thought I had the template files, but I apparently tossed those as well - sorry. <br> <br>This torso model is actually from a different character - the proportions are a little less.... epic ;)
OK - I was wrong - I still have the Make file - it's uploaded.
awesome work! is there any way you could make the 3D file available? even for a fee maybe? I'm only just delving into the world of 3d modelling and I've got to say, its slow progress at the moment :S and at this stage the CG element of this project is beyond me unfortunately but the &quot;hands on&quot; work I can do....any chance you could help out?.....If you dont want to make the file public you could email me perhaps? whatever you're response, fantastic work, keep it up! <br>
This female body does not exist. She is too awesome to be real. Very nice job. Thanks for sharing this!
Very cool. I liked your step by step as well as your piece. Thanks for sharing this. I haven't seen anything else like it in an instructable. Keep them coming. <br>Saludos,
This is really AWESOME. Congratulations.
When I was a sculpture student, we did something similar with papier mache - built armatures out of wood and chicken wire, layered that with a 50-50 mix of white glue and water (just like in grade school) but instead of newspaper, we used &quot;Shop Towels on a Roll&quot; so there was a lot of strength there. Finally, we used joint topping compound (for drywall finishing - a little like spackle) to smooth and finish the surface. After that, you could seal it any way, and paint, or just leave it in the raw. <br> <br>Great work, and a neat design - reminds me of fertility sculptures but with a modern twist!
Very beautiful work.

About This Instructable


449 favorites


Bio: I am a perpetual student, researcher, and hopelessly dedicated skill collector. I hope that you can find something inspiring or useful in the instructables I ... More »
More by jwilliamsen: Sporterize a Military Surplus Rifle Restore an Old Vise Make A Barbarian's Sword
Add instructable to: