PIPE­LINE TECH­NIQUES: Learn to 3D print videogame mod­els

Pre­pare meshes for 3D print­ing

3D Artist - - CONTENTS -

This tu­to­rial is de­signed to help you as­sess 3D videogame mod­els and ad­just as­pects of them to make them able to be suc­cess­fully 3D print­able in the var­i­ous ma­te­ri­als of­fered by shape­ways. it may seem ob­vi­ous to state but things you can make in soft­ware can­not al­ways be seam­lessly trans­lated into phys­i­cal ob­jects. com­puter an­i­ma­tions and videogame as­sets don’t have to take the laws of physics, grav­ity, ma­te­rial tex­ture and res­o­lu­tion into ac­count.

We will show you a stan­dard work­flow for pre­par­ing mesh files from videogames as 3D-print­able de­signs. it is worth noth­ing that there are some soft­ware pro­grams be­ing de­vel­oped with res­o­lu­tion-de­pen­dent file for­mats that use vox­els in­stead of meshes to en­sure print­abil­ity no mat­ter what. how­ever, un­til those pro­to­cols are avail­able in all 3D mod­el­ling and CAD soft­ware, this tu­to­rial will be your guide to quick file prepa­ra­tion.

We’ll be us­ing Blender to con­vert our as­set to OBJ and Zbrush to edit our as­set mesh and make it print­able. Then we’ll take ad­van­tage of shape­ways 3D Tools to help find any re­main­ing prob­lem ar­eas. i will also talk about the dif­fer­ent file types needed for print­ing in full colour ver­sus sin­gle-colour ma­te­ri­als. if you fol­low along and still run into print­ing prob­lems, you can al­ways visit our fo­rums to get ad­vice and tips from our 3D-print­ing com­mu­nity.

shape­ways has part­nered with Valve to open their ip to de­sign­ers who want to print as­sets from games like the one i’m us­ing from Dota 2.

01 Down­load and con­vert game as­set Down­load and con­vert your se­lected game as­set – i’ve down­loaded Bane from Dota 2 and the links to the as­sets used are on File­silo. Valve en­cour­ages remix­ing so they pro­vide FBX and Maya file types but we’ll use the FBX to con­vert to OBJ so that we can take ad­van­tage of Zbrush’s sculpt­ing and remesh­ing. Open Blender and choose im­port. use rig­ging mark­ers to re­pose if de­sired be­fore se­lect­ing and delet­ing rig­ging mark­ers. Fi­nally, choose se­lect All By Type > Mesh and ex­port as an OBJ. 02

Set­tings for ex­port­ing at scale im­port the con­verted OBJ mesh as a subtool. Go to the Zplu­gin Menu>3d Print hub and click up­date size Ra­tios to se­lect the smaller set of ra­tios dis­played in mil­lime­tres. Know­ing that we are at cor­rect scale will al­low us to iden­tify prob­lem ar­eas in the de­sign. When print­ing in ny­lon the thinnest pos­si­ble edge, or un­sup­ported wall, any­where on the de­sign is 0.7 mil­lime­tres. 03

Geom­e­try tools to make solid hit shift+f to tog­gle wire­frame view on. next turn on edit mode, se­lect the subtool mesh and open Geom­e­try. 3D print­ers can­not print ob­jects with mul­ti­ple shells and un­merged meshes so we can use this op­por­tu­nity to make our de­sign wa­ter­tight and man­i­fold. in the Geom­e­try menu, se­lect Modify Topol­ogy and click Weld Points, then close holes. These tools in com­bi­na­tion create a ‘shrink-wrapped’ ver­sion of the vis­i­ble sur­faces of the mesh. 04

Remesh and iden­tify work ar­eas now we need to in­crease our mesh res­o­lu­tion to make the fol­low­ing im­prove­ments to the sur­face smooth. in Geom­e­try, set the Dy­namesh res­o­lu­tion to 350 and click Dy­namesh. Then go to Zremesher, click Freeze­bor­der and click half un­der Tar­get Poly­gons count, and fi­nally click Zremesher. With this step com­pleted we can see that there are ar­eas on the fin­gers, shoul­ders and teeth that will need to be thick­ened and there are still low poly­gon stri­a­tions on the sur­face of the model that we can smooth over. We’ll do all of that in the next step.

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Smooth sur­face and thicken de­tails Once thin ar­eas are iden­ti­fied, we need to se­lec­tively thicken just those while avoid­ing ‘poof­ing out’ the en­tire model and los­ing the sharp­ness of our over­all geom­e­try. We’ll do this by al­ter­nat­ing be­tween a smooth­ing Brush and an in­flate Brush. For def­i­ni­tions of what needs to be ‘fixed’, the best re­source is the shape­ways ma­te­ri­als in­for­ma­tion page. it will be im­por­tant to ad­just your brush size for the smooth­ing so as to avoid cre­at­ing non-man­i­fold in­ter­sec­tions in tight ar­eas. This part of the process is po­ten­tially time-con­sum­ing. Keep scale in mind while edit­ing fine de­tail since some of the very fine de­tails won’t be vis­i­ble on the fi­nal print. 06

Fi­nal remesh and ex­port Once the smooth­ing is sat­is­fac­tory, Zremesh again to ex­port with good, man­i­fold geom­e­try. Then go to Zplu­gin and 3D Print hub to ad­just the ex­port set­tings for model size. We’re aim­ing to make this model about ten cen­time­tres tall so go to the slid­ers be­low and set the long­est axis, in this case the Z axis, to around 100 mil­lime­tres. en­sur­ing ac­cu­rate scale is the most im­por­tant fac­tor when pre­par­ing a file for 3D print­ing. 07

Up­load and Shape­ways 3D Tools if you don’t yet have one, head to Shape­ways.com and create an ac­count. click the blue up­load but­ton and se­lect your fi­nal STL or OBJ file. it will take a few mo­ments for the server to process it. if there are is­sues with the model, you will have the op­tion to see the de­tails about those prob­lems next to the spe­cific ma­te­rial. click View is­sues and in this ex­am­ple, the prob­lem ar­eas are as pre­dicted. The pointed fin­gers and spikes on the shoul­ders and head could be prob­lem­atic but they won’t pre­vent the print from be­ing or­dered so we’ll add White ny­lon to our cart and com­plete the pur­chase process.

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