First off, let me start by saying that I know this isn't a real action figure. It has zero points of articulation, meaning that the "action" portion of the word is conspicuously absent. But I'll eat my hat before I admit that I play with dolls or figurines, so for the duration of this 'ible what I made is an action figure. Deal with it.

Nostalgia. Boredom. Narcissism. These are all excellent reasons to make an action figure of yourself. This Instructable will detail my haphazard journey to crafting a tiny plastic replica of myself. Hopefully in the process I'll show you how to do it too.

  • Camera
  • Computer
  • Acrylic Paint
  • 3D Printer OR the ability to place online orders.
  • 123D Catch
    • This software from Autodesk takes a bunch of photos of a subject, from different angles, and uses a complicated algorithm to create a 3D model. This will be the first step in our process, and will be the foundation of the action figure. The better the Catch, the more like you it will look, so it's a good idea to watch the tutorial videos on the website.
  • NetFabb Studio Basic
    • This is just a free program I found online that can open many different file types, repair meshes, and export files as OBJ and STL. If you have your own program that can do these things then good on you, use it.
  • MeshMixer
    • More free software, this program is used to directly manipulate 3D models. It can move, rotate, scale, deform, and merge models. Think of it as a digitial sculpture tool. Pretty basic, very finicky, but it gets the job done.
  • (Optional) 123D
    • None of the above programs give any indication of the real-world size of your model. It's important that when we print your figure it isn't the size of a cruise ship. 123D allows you to, among other things, scale your model to a specific real measurement.
We will begin with nothing more than a camera and a computer, and end up with a 3D-printed action figure of ourselves. Needless to say, this is something of an involved endeavor. There are only 7 steps in this Instructable, but you can think of them more as chapters. This considered, I thought it prudent to provide a general overview of the process.
  1. Catch your head by taking 20-30 photos of it from every angle.
  2. Export the 3D model Catch provides as an OBJ, a filet ype we can edit.
  3. Use NetFabb to repair the OBJ, which is full of holes and fail.
  4. Use MeshMixer to stick your head on a stock body downloaded from the internet.
  5. Use NetFabb to repair your model one more time, then export as an STL.
  6. Print and paint your model.
Now that you have a basic understanding of what we'll be doing, let's begin!

Step 1: Prepare Your Head for Catching

This first step is optional, but highly recommended. The 123D Catch program is very sophisticated, but still needs careful planning to get the most accurate 3D image possible. In order to best explain this I'll give you a brief explanation of how this software works its magic.

123D Catch works by taking many images of a single subject, from various angles, and extrapolating shape and depth. It does this by using "stitch points", or landmarks common to several photographs in the series. This works very well for objects with high-contrast patterns on them, such as dots or corners. This process breaks down, however, on large, flat blank surfaces such as white walls or sometimes, unfortunately, human faces. We can work around this limitation by providing the software with landmarks on the face to which it can form references.

This is best accomplished by poking yourself in the face with a dry-erase marker.

The basic goal here is to provide enough high-contrast points on the face that each photo has visible at least 4 points shared in two other photos. You can put as many dots on your face as you like, as long as you are able to identify each discrete dot from the others. If you cover yourself with a thousand dots it's going to be a painstaking process trying to match the same stitch point in several different photos.

Fortunately I was blessed with a buckshot blast of freckles and moles, giving enough texture to my skin to allow 123D Catch to create very accurate reference points on my face.
<p>Hmm... Not the path I would prefer to take but may have to do this for more advanced design templates. I did this with my head a year back to make a well fitting cosplay helmet but it took a lot of editing to correct the capture errors.</p>
<p>What of the idea of making your little man into an AI robot...ha that would take a few more steps but just use an adwino or something right?</p>
<p>Haha wouldn't that be cool!</p>
<p>Your action figure looks like Chris Pratt.</p>
U are so cute! ;)
Man, tried everything, 123D catch doesn't work so I diverted to VisualSFM which doesn't seem to work on mac, and then I tried Skanect, and apparently I first need to buy a Kinect for it. <br> <br>I hope some company created a 123D catch-like software for free that isn't browser based (there is no offline mac version).
What's a prime cost of printing this kind of personal figure?
Real men play with dolls....um....of, um, themselves. <br> <br> Where to borrow/hack 123D is the purpose of this comment however. Brilliant idea for gifts to my young nephews or cake toppers for the soon to be married daughters. <br> <br>I might be able to help if arm/leg articulation is imperative- &quot;have dremel, will cut&quot;. S'my motto. Miniature eye screws for the loosely jointed and there are doll hospital web sites where you may be able to find more fixed jointing/swivel. <br> <br>Thanks for this great ible. <br>
Now about your posture.........
Cool idea.... <br> <br>Thanks to 30 years of agressively working out at a gym (including the fact that I can bench press more than 2x of my own weight) and other than the Tatoo, the 3D figure has about the same pysique as me,.... <br> <br>to think I wasted all that time in the gym...when I could have made a 3D sculpture of myself! <br>
Why not do the 3d scan of your body, too? I thought it was practically a requirement for anyone who worked at Instructables to strip down to one's undies for at least one project. :p
Do you know how to make 3d objects hollow in a software? I would like to know because I am working on a weight sensitive project where the motors aren't strong enough to lift a solid 3D piece. Also, it is less expensive if I use a hollow piece. Thanks.
I like the ripped jeans and gnarly tat. They compliment the rugged six-pack to give the figure back his 'action'
To put the &quot;action&quot; back into your &quot;figure&quot;, in theory you could just print out a head and glue it to an existing action figure sans head right? I really like your instructable, but am trying to figure a way to do it a bit cheaper. Does shapeways have an order minimum? Thanks!
You could definitely just print out your head and glue it to an existing figure. In fact, if you were willing to do some engineering-grade modeling in AutoCAD you could add the joining mechanism directly into your head before you print, and just snap it onto the action figure!
cool! although there are easier ways to get this done in meshmixer...guess I should make a tutorial video or something =)
If you do I would love a link :). I can tell it's a powerful program, but most of the tutorials are way out of date.
Yes, unfortunately that part of the website doesn't get any attention at the moment. If you are looking for help, the youtube channel: <br> <br>http://www.youtube.com/meshmixer <br> <br>has the most recent tutorial videos. And you will get a quick response to any questions on the forum: <br> <br>http://www.meshmixer.com/forum/
Fantastic work! Thanks for posting, I voted for you. I really liked your work! <br> <br>K.
Thanks, that means a lot to me!
Great instructable! <br>If what you're doing creates the head separately anyway, you could put the head on an articulated body and have an actual posable action figure. Dollsfigure or any company that creates articulated bodies sell bodies ready for heads. <br>
That's very true! I was looking for models of articulated figures, but couldn't find any; if you just printed the head however, you could glue it on to any action figure.
Cool! Good work but... you should get a model painter in to help you out haha
Haha, that would certainly help. I gave it my best shot, but I'm not a painter by any stretch!
Do you think drawing some sort of markings on your face first might help 123D Catch? Since the ultimate goal is to make a mesh, it wouldn't really matter if the initial model had big X's drawn on with eyeliner or something.
Yes, that would definitely work! I would suggest that you use a pen or something that has a fine point, This will help you be more precise when you're stitching.
Nice action figure. Wear those never-nude cut-offs proud!
I LOVE your denim cut offs. where did you get those from? hahah Can I borrow?
Thanks for all the links to some really interesting software for the right price.
That is a fascinating process. It is amazing that people can make a 3-D replica on their home computer and manufacturer a copy of it at home with a 3-D printer they own. That would have required some very expensive technology to achieve just ten years ago. <br> <br>Do you think people will soon be able to create life size, ultra realistic sculptures? That might create a whole new industry. Wouldn't it be interesting if instead of just a life size poster of a favorite sports hero or celebrity, one could buy a life size 3-D sculpture of them. You could have your favorite wrestler standing in your bedroom.

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm handling most of the shipping here at Instructables, as well as learning to run the new 3D printers. Feel free to PM me ... More »
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