Fast Forward Your Side Projects!

Introduction: Fast Forward Your Side Projects!

Artists and designers have often more ideas than they are capable of executing. There are always some side projects we daydream of doing, it just seems we never have enough time.

In this tutorial I'll present you with my way of turning my napkin sketches into something more real quickly. If you're not familiar with the tools I use, don't feel intimidated. I link to some very good and short videos that hopefully will explain more complicated things when you're new to this applications. Once you'll learn the procedure you'll be surprised how fast you can advance your side projects!

In this tutorial I use :

123D Catch (mobile app)

Meshmixer (desktop)

Fusion 360 (desktop)

Step 1: Creating Physical/analogue Model

materials: modelling clay/industrial plasticine/plasticine

tools: knife/carving tools/heat gun (if you use industrial plasticine)

I find that sculpting with my hands is a great way to work on proportions and find the perfect form for my idea. This method is simple, fast and quite enjoyable :)

You can make many plasticine sketches. Remember to make them neat (even out the surface) but you don't necesarilly need to work on detailing.

Step 2: Digitalizing Your Model Using 123D Catch App

tools: 123D Catch app (phone or tablet)

alternatively camera and 123D Catch on PC

Before you start taking photos pay attention to creating perfect photoshoot environment.

For best results place your model on a newspaper or a lined paper, you may also add some sticky notes around your model. Avoid placing the model on plain, shiny, reflective or transparent surfaces but you don't want too busy background either.

You'll need to move with a phone/camera around your model so move your desk away from the wall.

You want even lighting, no dramatic shadows so play attention to this in advance.

All of the above checked? It seems you did your best. Yay! You're ready to capture it.

If using your phone/tablet open the app, click + at the upper right corner and start taking pictures. While using your camera - simply start taking photos. You want to make around 20 slightly overlapping pictures while moving in a loop around you object. After capturing your first loop add some photos from the different angle.

For more information you can explore 123D Catch guide and videos here.

Find good instruction on planning and executing your capture in this video.

Step 3: 123D Catch Into Meshmixer

tools: 123D Catch app

Meshmixer (desktop)

In the browser login to your profile on and download your file.

Open Meshmixer and import your .obj file.

Use Select -> Lasso to select unwanted part of the mesh and hit X (Discard) to delete it.

I recommend going part by part so as to not discard to much.

When you're satisfied with the result go to Analysis. This will expose holes in your model. Use Autorepairing to cap holes in your model.

You don't have to be very precise in this step because we will create a super sleek model later in Fusion 360.

However, you may try different options of Autorepairing to see what gives best result. In this video you can see different options on how to cap holes in your model.

Now go to Export and export your model as an .obj file.

Get Meshmixer for free here and Fusion 360 here.

Step 4: Simplifying Your Model in Fusion 360

tools: Fusion 360

Open Fusion 360.

On the upper left side choose to Show the Data Panel and then click on the Upload icon (cloud).

Drag your .obj file to the designated window and click Upload. Double click on your uploaded file preview to open it. You can close the Data Panel now.

Right click on your mesh and choose Move to adjust your model in each viewport.

When you're done go to the upper left side to Create >Box. Adjust the size of the box with arrows in each viewport to adjust the size of your mesh model. Using blue sliders add divisions to this box. the more complicated your mesh is the more faces you'll need. When you're done right click and choose OK then right click again and move your model in each viewport to match the position of your mesh.

Ok, now you're ready for some magic! Check that you're in the Sculpt mode (upper left side) then go Modify>Pull.

Go to Select and choose Window Selection. Drag the window over you box, confirm with OK..and voila!

You have a beautiful T-spline form matching your mesh model. Now you can delete your mesh.

Don't forget to save your brand new model!

Stay tuned for the next part of this tutorial in which I'll turn this digital sketch into something less ambiguous :)

Check this video to see this useful technique explained.

Get Fusion 360 here.

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