Structural + Body + Parametrical Design + Mapping


I am still on the process of defining the mapping of the body in order to decide which parts of my skin will be hard materials and which will be soft materials, but I have used these medical and energy-based body maps as references:

Systems of the Human Body



I am also bringing the discussion of the ability of the female body (especially) to nuture, which led me to referencing the female body in gestation on the mapping as well, but mainly for the purposes of defining quite clearly where the nuturing imagetic would reflect on the non-gestational body.



I started the mapping of the body for Dar À Luz based on the 3D scan of myself naked, in order to be able to actually work with a real body and its natural proportions.


Many many thanks to @ana.correa who in fact was the person to scan me, as for it I had to be standing still in position you see on the gif above.

The step by step we used, referring back to my documnetation in Digital Bodies yet doinog the scan manually - Ana did it, not the robot - was:

  1. We used Anastasia's computer (thanks!) as it was th eonly one that had the skanect program in it. I later downloaded it on my own computer via this link
  2. We plugged the kinect camera to the computer before onpening skanect
  3. We opened skanect (this needs to be after plugging in the camera so that the program in fact locates the camera)
  4. I positioned myself in front of the camera where all my body was showing as green, or at least most of it. This moment is one of the most important ones, as this positioning needs to be thought befpre starting the scan process. The person being scanned must be in the centre of the space, allowing free space all around them, in the same radias throughout, so that the person scanning is able to take as many leaps around them holding the scanner as need be.
  5. Ana started scanning me, moving extremely slowly (almost like sghe was in the matrix really) in order to keep the scanner as still in terms of height and proximity to my body as she could, considering she was moving around me (the white lines you can see all around my body's scan on one of the images of the gif above shows Ana's full travelling path with the camera). In the meantime I had to stand as still as I could (this process takes about 20 miutes, if you're lucky to get it the first time around) so that the final 3D object produced by the scan was realistic. as you will be able to see on the uploaded file bellow, my arms are not the most clear ones, since they moved slightly, which I didn't mind terribly as I planned no much mapping on their region.
  6. When Ana was almost done with her lap around me, we had to keep everything in our bodies as still as possible and I would moved my feet very slowly and lightly in order to allow the cables to get free to yet another lap.
  7. Once she had my whole upper body in green she moved on to scan from an upper angle, looking down with the camera at me, in order to close any holes there might be on the top of my very curly haired head.
  8. She then scenned the bottom of my body, with my legs and feet on focus, the trickiest part to make the cable passage through my feet.
  9. Once the entire body was green on the scan we finished it and exported it as OBJ and STL, keeping all the colour information on the obj file just in case.

This process required a lot of both mine and Ana's bodies, it was very precise and slow, and we had to pay full attention to the momento of the scan while performing it, which in fact made me think it is a performance on its own almost.

In the end of the scan I also cut out my head in order to reduce the file as much as possible to work with it on Rhino:



I am not going to publish Moon's body scan for ethical purposes, I have done with my own as I am the only person who owns my body (if so, even) and can take the file down at any moment I please.

I am however allowed to share images of it here.

In order to scan Moon me and @ana.correa (thank you so much again!) have done the exact same process as when we had scanned myself, the only difference is that we prepared Moon to wear tight clothes for this previously and she was in tights and a thin jersey when the scan was made.

skanect moon Gabriela Lotaif

Also what happened, very unluckily, with this scan was that 2 times in the middle of the laps around Moon her body was lost from the centralisation tool in the kinect, going red on the computer, and the scan was lost halfway thorugh, but well, three times a charm. For this reason when we took the scan that finally worked we decided to do it from a very far distance to Moon's body, to make sure we had enough space to move around her and re-centralise her if needed, which ended up in the scan being not only of her body but of certain objects in the room. This was easy to solve once the file was in Rhino as I just had to use the boolean split tool to delete the extra objects in the sacn, but it did make the file much heavier to export, which took a lot of time. This is how it looked before I cleared it:

Moon's scan before clearing

And this is her body scan without all the other object's noise:

Moon's scan after cleaning


I also cut out her head in order to use the file as reduced as possible:

scan of Moon headless

The ReduceMesh tool in Rhino also became my very best friend in this project.


Having all of the Body Scans I needed to work from, it was time to finalize my decision on what parts of the body exactly I had to 3D Model in order to eventually print my exoskeleton and what it would look and feel like once printed too.

I started thinking about the references I had for body mapping, documented above, and also started testing out the movements as documented previously in Bioflaskin, and realised that the exoskeleton was really supposed to be placed in areas of the body with more bones than flesh.

I also thought to use the concept of the chakras and energy centres in the body in order to narrow my options down further.

Lastly I brought into my decision the weight of the whole function of a skeleton, which is to really hold up what otherwise would e a bunch of skin and organs (of Bioflaskins and Algdresses), they should be the base of the weight structure, the legs in which the laboratory created body I was making would stand.

I decided to have 4 pieces:

  1. A neck piece that represented the 5th chakra, where the self-expression is centred.
  2. A corset-like ribcage or torso piece that represented the idea of a backbone-holding structure or could even associate very loosely to Frida Kahlo's medical spine support corsets, to use one of my major Female Inspirational sources in life as a parallel.
  3. A Thigh piece, the only one positioned and modelled from where in the real body you find more flesh than body when touching. This one is also the only one that doesn't wrap itself all around that organic body sphere. It is different, yet I decided to keep it, as I wanted to bring it in as a shield almost, that could be used to stand on, on the left leg.
  4. A Shin piece that represented the more earth-relating piece in the costume and that symbolises the other leg to hold up the lab-made body on, the right leg.

Meshes of all the Body parts I used


From my own body scan I modelled an initial version of the neck piece to test out how it would feel in my body in case I decided to print it in one piece, if the lack of movement would be too overwhelming to the performance.

Neck piece my own scan


Before printing, however, I decided to do so in smaller scale, as have a paper version, cut out in the vynil cutter (Silhouette CAMEO) for which I would have small cut-outs of my 3D model, that I obtained through the Smash function in Rhino, which takes a 3D object (once cut out in many small ones in the case of a very organic and curvy one like my esternon's scasn's cut) and turns it into a series of 2D ones.

paper neck piece Gabriela Lotaif

paper neck piece on Gabriela Lotaif

I then printed out a smaller scale version of it after changing a couple of curves' angles in the cut:

Small 3D printed Neck

I used the same settings as I had for the seringes, which I printed for my Veinginate research.

Having this small scale piece I could see that I had to think of a way to make it move movable, and Anastasia suggested creating small vertical cuts of them and lacing these together, which I actually really liked and decided to do, as an initial version. Then once I was more comfy with grasshopper I could try to make other shapes to cut those pieces in. Aldo Solazzo in our Midterm presentations also gave me the reference of Textile the Skin, a project that he had in the Reshape17 competition by the designers Mingjing lin, Yingjun Li. (thanks ALdo!)


When it comes to manipulating the 3D Body Scans on Rhino I received an initial saviour class from Mohamad Atab (thank youuu!), who helped me understand how to make cuts of the body only keeping its shell ( I dind't want to work with the filled 3D meshes I got from the 3D scans, since I needed to actually print put an outside exoskeleton to them from their surface to the outside).

Using Grasshopper we sorted this need with this series of commands:

Grasshopper commands Gabriela Lotaif

I was basically:

  • Taking the mesh of the body's 3D scan, cutting it with two lines created on Grasshopper based on two points in Rhino.
  • These lines were shaped by the original mesh horizontally so they became a slice of the in the position they were in relation to it horizontally. (which could be moved just by my moving the two reference points to the lines that I had on Rhino)
  • I then took those slices and multiplied them by 1.5 to make sure that they would cut the body perfectly, as they were originally in the same exact position as the body, and might leave some of the surface out of the cut had I not scaled them.
  • Next thing was to tell these slices scaled up based on the bodies slices to cut the body, keeping only the outter shell of it when making that cut.
  • I was then sucessful to create a cut of the body from which to work and cut out my pieces according to curves, going back to rhino.
  • But Moha also taught me to create a thickness to my pieces obtained in Grasshopper in case I wanted to do that once I finally had my final cuts, going back to grasshopper (which I did.)

These were my 4 base outter shells:

Moons scan 4 base outter shells Gabriela Lotaif

I converted the from meshes into open polysurfaces using the MeshtoNurb command in Rhino, so the next part was easier.

After all these steps I went back to Rhino and need to cut out, from those outer shells I had, my actual pieces' shapes. In order to do this I:

  • Created curves on the front, back and side views (for torso, thigh and shin) and on top view (for the neck). I created them right in front of my base shells.
  • I then projected the on my shells to see how the cut would look on the 3D object.
  • After adjusting this by going back and forth with curve making and project, I deleted the projected one.
  • Using the same view I drew on I trimmed my piece. I repeated the process until I was happy with my cut all around and then went to fron view (torso and shin) and back view (neck) in order to trim out the aperture of the pieces. This had to be done after since I needed the cut to be only on the front or the back. Also I had to place my curves very intelligently so that they would not be projected onto the back (or front, of the neck piece), which I didn;t want to cut.

These were my still open surface pieces:

Open sufaces Gabriela Lotaif


The next step was to cut out the holes in them, as I had included in my designs when I also changed my Algdress's pattern. These cuts were done in the same way I had done the one in the front (neck piece) and back (torso and shin) apertures of my pieces, I made curves on the view I would trim them from.

Holes in the pieces Gabriela Lotaif


Then I made the vertical cuts on my pieces, which I made all in top view.

  1. I made the curves with the following Grasshopper commands, using two curves with 3mm distance between them all around:

Grasshopper commands curves Gabriela Lotaif


  1. I then baked those curves and trimmed the pieces from the top view with them.

The last step was to create a thickness to my pieces, so that I was able to print them. I used these Grasshopper commands to do this once I had use the Rhino Mesh command to transform my surfaces into meshes:

Grasshopper thickness command Gabriela lotaif

And this is how they were when I was doing it:

Thickness on pieces Gabriela Lotaif


This is how my final Structural Body Paramapp looks:

Structural Body Paramapp Gabriela Lotaif


Neck Structural Body Paramapp Gabriela Lotaif


Torso Structural Body Paramapp Gabriela Lotaif

Thigh (left leg)

Thigh Structural Body Paramapp Gabriela Lotaif

Shin (right leg)

Shin Structural Body Paramapp Gabriela Lotaif


In this particular documentation I have decided to keep only the final files on the Files item and the other original scan files can be found throughout the reading of the page

Structural Body Paramapp • Designed and 3D Modelled by Gabriela Lotaif • Rhino File

Structural Body Paramapp • Designed and 3D Modelled by Gabriela Lotaif • Grasshopper File