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 roll
(x1) 123D Catch
(x1) Digital camera
(x1) 3D modeling software (I used 3DS, but you can use something free like 123D)
(x1) Very expensive high-resolution Objet 3D printer (Or friend with access to a printer... or featured entry in the Make it Real Challenge... or a Shapeways account)
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.