Introduction: Mini Face Sculpture

About: My name is Randy and I am a Community Manager in these here parts. In a previous life I had founded and run the Instructables Design Studio (RIP) @ Autodesk's Pier 9 Technology Center. I'm also the author of t…

Inspired by the Foil Bust of designer Dominic Wilcox, I set out to create an aluminum replica of my face. To change things up a little, I decided to do it at 1/4 and 1/8 scale. This required use of all kinds of state of the art technology... and aluminum foil. Don't be daunted by the seeming complexity of the process, it is actually quite easy. I accomplished this without having to exert too much physical or mental effort. Ultimately, this was a fun and quick project, and I am looking forward to making some really unexpected aluminum foil balls.

Step 1: Go Get Stuff

You will need:

(x1) Aluminum foil
(x1) 123D Catch (obsolete, but you could try subscribing to ReCap)
(x1) DSLR camera
(x1) 3D modeling software (I used 3DS, but you can get a free trial with Fusion 360)
(x1) Very expensive high-resolution Objet 3D printer (Or a Shapeways account)

(Note that some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This does not change the cost of the item for you. I reinvest whatever proceeds I receive into making new projects. If you would like any suggestions for alternative suppliers, please let me know.)

Step 2: Catch Yourself

Sit very still and have someone take pictures all around your head, and then submit them to the 123D Catch online app.

In some hours you should receive back a 3D model.

Clean up the model as necessary (i.e. remove any weird spiky bits).

Step 3: Boolean Subtract

Open up your 3D editing software.

Import your face STL from 123D Catch and close the mesh to make it a solid object by closing the mesh.

Create a new cube and then subtract your face from it using a boolean subtract operation.

This should leave you with a cube with the inverse of your face.

This will be the inverse face mold that you will 3D print.

Step 4: Fix the STL

Before you can print your file, you need to make the STL water tight (i.e. remove the error points).

I used NetFabb to repair all of the errors in the STL. This program can be used for free and is quite good at repairing STLs. However, any program capable of repairing errors in STLs will do.

Step 5: Print

Print your STL file on your fancy Objet 3D printer (or similar).

If you don't happen to have a fancy 3D printer, get someone else to do it for you.

Step 6: Make the Cast

Take some aluminum foil or other shape-keeping materials and press it into the mold starting from the lowest point (i.e. the tip of the nose). Continue pressing it in and smoothing it out until you fill the whole mold.

When you are done, pull the two apart and you now have a mini replica of your face.

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