Oct 102012

This is a comprehensive update for weeks three through seven of the semester. My goal at the beginning of this individual study was to have weekly updates, however, I did not fully grasp the time-consuming nature of my interest in 3D printing. Week after week I took pictures and felt like there wasn’t any visible progress to report. However, things have been happening! As of First Friday last week, the in-progress Scale armor is installed in Gallery VC!

Its about a foot long right now.  The painter’s tape silhouette gives a general idea of my tunic goal for of the semester.




This is how it was Monday before the show. I had been working on it in the triangular shape because it’s easier to keep the layers straight. It’s hung on a rather dirty wall because all the clean walls in the art building were covered by art that day.

This is how the back looks and is a good idea of scale.

 Posted by on October 10, 2012 Comments Off on Scale Armor at a Snail’s pace
Oct 102012

One of my personal areas of artistic investigation is digital drawing.  I’ve had some luck with investigating with SketchBook Express, but was frustrated with its lack of customizability.  Whilst researching SketchBook Pro despite the $69.99 price tag,  I discovered that all of the Autodesk software including Autocad and Maya are available for free download for students.  I also found out about something that immediately jumped to the top of my vehicle wishlist, the PiCycle, a gorgeous environmentally friendly electric-assist bicycle (it was designed with Autodesk software).  In downloading SketchBook, I felt like a small circus dog jumping through hoops, but I’m willing to jump through flaming hoops for a couple of hours to have free software that does exactly what I want it to do.  I’ve only scratched the surface of its capabilities, and I am eager to practice more and use tutorials to maximize my ability to use it.

First thing I was entranced by when exploring the expanded toolset was the mirror X and Y tools.  I only wish it were possible to change the angle at which the mirrors intersect, and to add a third mirror.  I love hexagon-based symmetry.

My first foray into SketchBook pro beyond fiddling with custom pens and brushes. Evening Tuesday October 9

This is my favorite part of the above drawing. I want to develop this further.

 Posted by on October 10, 2012 Comments Off on Over the Moon!
Oct 092012

I’ve continued experimenting in SketchBook Express with my Intuos3 tablet when I feel the compulsion to draw, with mixed results.

Late evening Wednesday, September 19. Executed in SketchBook Express with the pencil and hard eraser tools. Some erasing was done instead with a white pencil because the eraser modifications in Express were too limited.  I quite like the way this turned out. The process of making this drawing inspired me to look into ways of screen recording while drawing because spontaneous drawing is an intriguing process that is hard to look back on. With the best, it feels like I look at a finished drawing after stepping outside of time for a prolonged moment of focus.


This was started soon after the above. I experimented with the airbrush tool for the areas of shadow, I’m not quite happy with the results. Just imagine nice scales all over the body; this sketch is unfinished because I learned about the layer functions after the shading point where I would want to start using them. However, I am satisfied with what I learned from this drawing.

My primary focus in the above two was in finding a digital drawing method that emulated my archaic favored writing and sketching instrument: the fountain pen. In SketchBook Express, I couldn’t quite tweak the either the paintbrush, ballpoint, or the pencil enough to quite emulate the effect. SketchBook, however, has been the best program yet for using a tablet without lag. I also enjoy the intuitive hidden-yet-accessible menus, very appropriate for a painting/drawing program. If you are unfamiliar with SketchBook, check out a friendly overview here: Is Sketchbook Pro for You

Armed with the knowlege from the grayscale airbrush tool investigation as well as the layers menu, I adventured into the realm of color on October 1. This drawing is unfinished as the above dragon due to more tool frustration. After blending colors nicely in the background blue/purple/yellow layer, I thought I could blend some yellows into the highly saturated red to vary its saturation and create muted orange areas and streaks, as well as bright yellow highlights. For some reason, none of the tools would draw yellow visibly upon the red, but it would show up if I drew somewhere else. I put this drawing aside and mulled over the issue for a few days.

This drawing is more finished than the two above, but doesn’t make me as happy as the first, because I did it in several stages instead of one sitting. I found out how to do a screen recording with QuickTime, so I have another open challenge to myself: find out how to edit the two parts into one movie and share it on this blog. Not sure when that’s going to happen, but I will get some Exp Points whenever I get around to completing that Quest. I love how much I learned about color and the airbrush tool with this drawing.   What I would change is how the word-placement doesn’t add anything to the composition.

However, I made a terrible discovery after finishing the last drawing. I loved the colors and happy dragon so much while I was working on developing detail I wondered what the physical dimensions of the drawing were – I blithely thought I could print it out nicely and, after some polishing, have a self-made motivational poster for my dorm studio. Being a self-motivated self-taught artist is incredible… until I lose some momentum and start questioning the reasons for investigating my areas of interest that don’t yet have a practical output (Time, is GPA, after all). Terrible train of thought, because ceasing exploration means I don’t make any discoveries for a while, and don’t develop my skills or further my knowlege. But it happens.
Anyway – I discovered that my cute drawing was a bit small for a poster… too small even for a postcard, even though preemptively I had made the canvas size rather large. The fault lay with the unchangable defalult of SketchBook Express: 100 dpi. Drawings-for-print need 300. I was thoroughly mad at SketchBook. There was no way I would spend 60$ at the Apple App Store to download a Pro app which wouldn’t work on my Dino laptop. It seems that everything on the app store requires several generations of evolution that I’ve missed. And evolving in the middle of a school year seems like a bad idea, if something goes awry. So much ill potential when genetic mutation is involved, *sigh*.

 Posted by on October 9, 2012 Comments Off on more quirky drawings
Sep 122012

Last week I was interviewed along with Tim Owens in the Think Lab, a magical place in the Northwest corner of Simpson Library’s second floor.  You can read all about it here on the UMW page.

 Posted by on September 12, 2012 Comments Off on UMW article feature!
Sep 102012

I am making plastic scale maille.  Scale maille is one variety of pre-firearm protective vestment.  It consists of fish-scale shaped plates linked with rings.  Developing functional 3D printable plastic scales and rings was a long process because I knew only the theory of making scale maille, having never made before it with the commercially available metal supplies.

Starting this project I knew that there were two parts: scale and ring.

The scale needed a hole that was large enough to have up to four rings linking it to adjacent scales, and it needed to be long enough that it would cover the linkages behind it.  Along the way, I also discovered that the scale can’t be too fat, or it will argue with the scale next to it.

The ring needed to hold together two scales securely without taking up too much room. (sounds simple, right?)

I have a repurposed plastic salad container which holds my collection of fail maille.

I designed this project, and all my other 3D modeling-related projects using Blender, a free 3D modeling program.

These first scales are visually attractive, but have holes that are much too small

The rings are too thick or too thin to hold the scales together.


The scales were then altered to be wider and have larger holes. A ring, not too big, thick, or springy was developed, but it held the scales too tightly together; they cannot lay flat.

Rings needed to be much larger, and thinner, but still sturdy

The scales had to be longer to cover the looser ring connections.

Trial and error, tweaking and testing. The larger loop on the scale helped things fit together with a looser ring, but the issue was things staying linked, and not being crowded.


The entire scale needed to be larger to be proportionate with the ring.

In theory, scaling down the proportionate scales with rings together would work, but there were serious stability flaws when that idea became physical. The rings and loops in the smaller size didn’t have enough plastic to serve their purpose.

 Posted by on September 10, 2012 2 Responses »