3D Print: Atlas (Portal) Part1
Here it is, the biggest 3D print project to date!
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.

Youtube Video

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

[The medium poly mesh, just prior to modeling completion]

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.

[Final render of the model in it's pose on a half finished base]

Post process after printing

Smoothing out the parts

[Parts in the process of being smoothed]

[The parts temporarily assembled.  All mustard coloured pieces are those that have been smoothed by hand, everything else in white were as they arrived from Shapeways]

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.

[All the parts that have been finished being painted and had the decals applied]

Making the circuit

[Circuit assembly]

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.

[I see you]

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.

[Atlas starting to take shape]

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


  1. I'm speachless,it's amazing.

  2. great to see someone doing their thing!
    turned out great!

  3. Man, this is completely amazing. What was the final cost for you, if you don't mind my asking?

  4. This is absolutely stunning mate! Wonderful work!

    Your Dead Space helmet was also a thing of beauty.

  5. Bravo, that's impressive.

  6. Thanks for the comments! Glad people like this :)

    @Yong: It's a little difficult to say how much exactly as it all depends on how you look at it, but no matter how you look at it, it's not exactly cheap.

    I don't want to get into a specific price for certain reasons but let's just say it was over £100 and wasn't cheap including the purchase of all the things I didn't have (paint, sand paper, filler, electronic components etc...). A lot of the miscellaneous parts are left over and can be used for my next project, so some of the cost COULD be ignored if you look at it that way (but I haven't here).

    I also bought myself an airbrush off ebay for £70.

    Of course, no costs mentioned include any labour or time costs as I did the work for myself for free :P

  7. Hi, Nice robot!

    Just wondering what application you used to model it, It is just was thinking of having a go myself, and before you say, I know it will take a lot of time and effort.


  8. I used Modo for this, but there's no reason why you can't use any other 3D modelling packages out there (Maya, Max, Blender etc...). CAD software may also be an option for anything inorganic.

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  10. Hi! is amazing!!! are you thinking of selling them? if you are, what will be the price? i live in the USA , so i dunno if will be a trouble for you.

    1. Sorry for the late reply, it's been a while since I checked the blog as I've been away travelling for some time.

      Unfortunately, at the moment I don't think I can sell these as Valve own the IP and I'm pretty sure they wouldn't be too happy if I sold this :(

      However, if I ever did decide to sell these or future projects, I wouldn't actually mind shipping to U.S.A., it's just it may cost a little extra with international shipping charges.

  11. Nice looks you are posted i have not seen like these print shots in my life i am totally impressed from your blog.
    Keep continue sharing...

    postcard printing

  12. is there anyway i can purchase your files which you made this from so i can upload it on shapways and build it my self??

    1. I'm afraid I don't have any intention of distributing these model files. I hope you understand.

  13. Outstanding work, beautiful bit of design & perfect finishing. I'd love to see an R-Type model from you ( retro gaming ftw ) at some point :)

  14. These are supa cool! Great blog =)

  15. AWESOME! O.o you sir, have mad skills.

  16. This looks awesome! What type of light did you use for his eye?

    1. It was just a regular blue LED. I put a piece of plastic over the top to help diffuse the light though :)

  17. Great job! What filler spray did you use to smooth it out?

    1. It was just some off the shelf car body filler in a spray can. I bought it at a a near by hardware store, but I'm afraid I can't recall the specific brand. The colour was clearly mustard (as it was the cheapest!), but I'm afraid that's all I can remember :(

  18. Perfect!! What 3d printer do you use??

    1. Thanks. Pieces were printed by Shapeways.com on their SLS printers. Not sure of the exact printer model they used at the time, but it was the industrial type printers that goes into the tens of thousands of pounds that I can only dream of one day owning.

  19. these are amazing.are these metals or are they filaments? ceramics perhaps? :-)

    1. Just nylon plastic. All done via SLS printers on www.Shapeways.com

  20. Just saw this on 3d_printguy's Instagram, he said that you'd posted an in depth article on how to make this so I had to check it out. This is awesome!! Cheers for the blog on how you did it!