Twinsies (Head Swapping)




Introduction: Twinsies (Head Swapping)

This is a process that takes about 3 hours (exacto/scalpel timing)... if you're a RISD ID student running on 3 coffees.

Just to save you time: this process has taken ages to work out and slight variations often don't work...

The toolkit is a head! plus a camera, the internet (you really need this), a computer, Autodesk 123D, Autodesk 3DS Max, Pepakura and Adobe Illustrator.

You also need a color printer, preferably a plotter and if you really want to get moving quickly a laser cutter.

David and Steph swapped heads with Edith and Edwin! Peace Out!

Step 1: 123D Catch

(Goto Autodesk 123D Catch which is free for everyone) Take at least 30 photographs from all around your subject. Aiming to make a mask works best and getting the subject to lean against a wall whilst they concentrate on staying still is very successful. More tips at the bottom of this page and don't forget to get low down and take top down views.
Using the browser based 123d catch (not the standalone app as you can't get the files out!?!?) upload the images (delete blurred or dark ones) and wait..... When the 3D model has been created download the OBJ file that is in the "Save/Download" menu and it's called "Download (Mesh Package File)" The website is confusing and you can easily end up in the wrong place.
You can edit the file in 123D but it is much quicker to go to the next step.

My file is here:

123D Catch Photo Tips from the Autodesk 123D website.

1) Avoid Symmetry or ambiguous features in photos
2) Accessibility – Is there enough space around the subject to make the shoots? Start from the center and take photos on every 5 or 10 degrees.
3) Avoid Occlusions, if it is not possible take more photos 4) Photographs need features (They can’t be transparent, “super” glossy or reflective)
5) Subjects cannot move
6) The software will use the maximum of 70 photos and it is recommended to shoot at least 50
7) You need a consistent lighting (not underexposed or overexposed) – Overcast day has a nice lighting consistence.
8) Do not use Flash
9) Focus your target model (never blur it) and if you use depth of field to blur the background do it in all your photos
10) Photos resolution don’t need to be ultra-high because 3 Mega Pixels is the highest resolution the software will accept, otherwise 123DCatch will resize them.
11) Consistent Orientation (portrait photos or landscape)
12) Do not crop or edit the photos

Step 2: Autodesk 3D Studio Max ProOptimizer

(Download and install Autodesk 3D Studio Max which is free for Students)
Import the OBJ file from the unzipped "Download (Mesh Package File)" remembering to check the import texture box.
Change the viewport settings to "Facets" so you can see what is really going on.
Delete all the mesh that you don't want using a box and a boolean type intersection. Use the "ProOptimizer" modifier to reduce the mesh complexity to 250 facets (or as much as possible) and again check the texture box.
(You often get fragments that don't make sense in the mesh and you can move mesh points around by using the "Edit Mesh" modifier as well but this quite often disconnects the mesh from the image map).
Some times as you optimize you loose details from the image map. This is a problem with seems that we haven't solved yet but you can see the seems if you temporarily use the "Unwrap UVW" modifier. if a seem is in a bad place such as a near to an eye then I suggest remaking the mesh in 123D Catch and see if the seem moves somewhere else.
When you are happy with the export as a new OBJ file.

Step 3: Pepakura

Download and install Pepakura which is shareware
Open the last OBJ file.
Set the paper size in mm to fit on the plotter and the laser cutter. (RISD Width is 609 and Height is 1218)
Select unfold and then move the pieces into a good position if needed. Print the file and get cutting and taping!

Step 4: Adobe Illustrator

Step Four is optional.
You might print as a pdf from Pepakura and then use the more sophisticated print dialogue in Adobe Illustrator.
You can also try using the laser but make sure that you add test fragments into the file that will help you align the print well.

I found that when using single sided tape it is best to trim back the tabs. Using double sided tape works best but takes longer.

For this to be a 'real' mask the inside needs packing with extra cardboard for support. I haven't done this but I will think about how to automate it at some point.

Step 5: 16 Heads Are Better

We are making everyone.....

I'm holding the first prototype.... which was me of course because I didn't take the photographs for the first step.

If you are wondering, that's my bemused face.

We learnt that big is better, masks are better and that 250 facets is good.

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    6 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Probably reflektor by arcade fire. They are on tour and requesting formal attire and possibly constume. Guess what i'm trying...


    6 years ago on Introduction

    People often use a resin to stiffen up Pepakura models. You'd have to apply it to the inside, but it will get it pretty rock hard while staying super light.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Definitely more entertainment value than that offered by PhotoShop alone!

    Shouldn't the photos have excluded the glasses, and then put a real pair on later? (Apologies if that spoils any jokes.)


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    (The head is twice normal size) The glasses are actually really nice, I like the way 123D has interpreted the distortion. Can you post images in the comments? I'd like to see other people's efforts. Although I did just get a stone request! We're finishing David's head right now....