Continue Testing ....
Here it is, the biggest 3D print project to date! This is the third one and this time ..... I'M NOT GIVING IT AWAY AS A PRESENT TO ANY FRIENDS! It's all mine!
This is by far the most ambitious 3D print project I have attempted and it's definitely required the most effort. Anyone who has played Portal 2 should recognise this character, and even if you haven't played Portal 2 but play games, I'm sure you'll know who this character is.
Before getting started on the model making process, here's a quick video I put on youtube. It has some commentary and will show the model at some different angles as well as some close up shots that there may not be pictures of :)
Making the 3D model
I start where I always do; creating the 3D model.
After many hours of trawling the internet I had managed to grab around 50 reference images. All of which covered multiple angles, distances, some were concept art, some were proper renders and some was even fan art (fan art can be great ref material). It's all invaluable reference material when creating the 3D model, so it's worth spending time and getting a lot of it. From there, I grabbed a notepad to make my plan of attack so that the model would be able to house the LEDs for the eye and the 2 elbows and I could get everything clear in my head.
I decided to make this a model that is locked in a pose rather than one that has any moving parts. The reason for this was that I was concerned slightly about the weight on the joints of the model, as some would be quite small and thin.
As with any character, generally the easiest way to model them is in the standard T-Pose.
Throughout the modelling process, I generally upload in-progress temp versions of the model to Shapeways, so I can check how much it's currently going to cost. Like all projects, I always set myself a budget, so this allowed me to keep an eye on costs and adjust things if necessary.
Once I had the T-Pose model finished, it was then time to build a skeleton and pose the character. In the end I chose to have him in a crouched pose and also remove one of the lower arms. Doing this meant that the weight was better supported throughout the model (at the time I was still concerned about the stress on the joints), I wanted a pose that you don't normally see for Atlas and the removal of the lower arm fit with the theme I had in mind.
What is the theme I had in mind?
The theme I had in mind for this, was that Atlas has been through a testing chamber and not come out of it unscathed (lost part of an arm). Atlas makes it to the final red button to complete the chamber and what does he get ... GlaDos on the tannoy simply saying "Continue testing"; it's not over yet for Atlas. This final image was what I wanted to try and create when you look at the model.
Post process after printing
Smoothing out the parts
Whenever you have something printed in WSF, it has a bit of a grainy texture (this is a result of the way it is printed as it starts off life as powder and then is heated via lasers a cross section at a time to create the object). I wanted to have the model as smooth as possible, but I didn't believe a lot of the parts wout survive the polishing service that Shapeways provides (it's basically a rock tumbler the parts are put through for several hours). So I had it printed in standard WSF and not the polished variant.
Since the original Dead Space helmet project, I feel WSF has been improved and is less grainy, but it still wasn't good enough for me. I wanted it smoother. So, using some filler spray, I began giving the armor pieces a few coats and began smoothing it out with wet sanding (working my way up the grit levels slowly).
Once done, the pieces were incredibly smooth.
Now I temporarily put all the parts together with some white-tac to see how things were looking. Some minor modifications were needed (a few additional holes were needed for running wires, minor shape adjustments with a knife were needed etc...).
Painting and applying the finishes to the parts
After watching lots of painting videos on youtube for tips, I eventually decided to pick myself up an airbrush off eBay to try and improve my paint finishes. It was pretty tricky to learn how to use, but eventually I got the hang of it and painted the parts. Using an airbrush gave me a very nice, even finish to the model. It also allowed me to give Atlas a subtle weathered look, which was something I wanted to do, in order to achieve the theme I had in mind for this. I ended up using acrylic paint for this rather than enamel paints.
Once the parts had been painted, I gave them a quick coat of clear gloss varnish and applied some decals I made on Photoshop to the model. I then gave it one more coat of clear gloss varnish to seal the model and protect the decals.
Making the circuit
Next, it was time to wire up the basic LED circuit for the model. I worked out the circuit on some paper, cut some board and soldered the wires, LEDs and resistors to create the circuit. What made things slightly tricky is that some of the the wires were actually going to be on display, so I didn't want any red wires (which is the normal way to denote a positive wire) on display; just black wires.
Putting it all together
Most of the hard work was now done and it's time to start putting it all together. I put the circuit into the central eye piece, and fired it all up to see what it looks like.
It was looking great, so it was time to assemble the rest of the pieces also. This was slightly tricky to do as I needed to thread a lot the wires through the holes I drilled prior to super gluing anything into place and it was pretty fiddly as the model was complicated and on a small scale. I also added the aerial piece in the back.
The finished product (well this part anyway)!
Thanks for reading
Please look forward to part 2. In part 2, I'll be making an awesome base to finish off the model and possibly make a few adjustments to Atlas to make it even better.
Part 2 may take a little while to do, as I'm going to have a busy few months coming up, but I'll try and fit time in where I can!
Update: Part 2 is finally done! Follow the link here to go to it