3D Printing Calaveras/Dia De Los Muertos

Introduction: 3D Printing Calaveras/Dia De Los Muertos

About: I am an artist and arts educator based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Dia de Los Muertos is a Mexican holiday that honors and celebrates those who are no longer living. Calaveras de azucar are colorful decorated sugar skulls that are often displayed during this holiday. In this project you will make a 3D print design of a sugar skull celebrating someone who is special to you. You will be using Tinkercad to create your design.

Step 1: Get Inspiration! What Are Dia De Los Muertos Sugar Skulls?

Before you start to create your design, get inspiration from:

Think about the person whose memory you will honor in your 3D skull creation. What did this person enjoy doing? What did you enjoy doing with this person? What was important to him/her? How might you capture some of these ideas in patterns designs?

Have scratch paper and pencil handy to sketch patterns and ideas down.

Step 2: Build Your Creation in Tinkercad

Once you have your idea, open up the 3D design cloud tool Tinkercad and log in or create an account if you do not already have one.

Next, open up this sample skull by clicking on the "Copy & Tinker" blue button at the bottom right. You can begin to modify this blank skull with the volume forms already on the build table or you can begin by grabbing volume forms in the objects library to the right on your Tinkercad screen.

For some tips on learning Tinkercad, you can explore this simple Tinkercad guide that I created: http://bit.ly/1CinPVZ

Step 3: Save Your 3D Design

After you have completed your design in Tinkercad go to the "Design" menu option and select "Properties" in the pull down menu.

  • Make the design "public"
  • Rename it to include #sugarskull in the naming.
  • Add a comment to your design explaining how it represents someone special to you. To do this, click on the square tinkercad logo in the top left to go back to your dashboard. Then click on the image of your design to open up the preview. Scroll down to the bottom of the panel to see the comments section for the design. In the blank box where it says "share your thoughts" add in a few sentences explaining your design and click "post". You are done!

You can see other people's designs when you search in the gallery button under this hashtag #sugarskull. Many of the designs in this collection will be created by teens in free East San Jose library workshops.

A gallery of student calaveras de azucar designs and statements can be seen here at this link.

Step 4: Print Your Design!

If you have a 3D printer, print your design or if you have a local library that does 3D prints, send your stl file to them. Otherwise, you can get your design printed at a variety of print services such as Shapeways or 3D Hubs

I have been printing student designs on my Afinia and the print runs for a 2-2.5 inch calavera is around 2.5 hours.

We are printing our calaveras with glow-in-the-dark filament. If you want to add color, you can use gouache to paint the elements on your calavera after it is printed.

Have fun celebrating someone special in your life during Dia de los Muertos, November 1st-November 2nd!

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    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! I hope to have more 3D printing lessons up soon. The Alum Rock San Jose library show that resulted from this workshop is coming down tomorrow. Hoping that the local high schools will invest in bringing 3D printing into their programming. The teens had a good time and are excited to take their glow-in-the -dark calaveras home.