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2. Digital bodies - Exploring Form

For this week, we were tasked to creating a mannequin of ourselves and learning 3D design, scanning, tooling and physical assembly in the process.

Our Bodies

To begin this process, we had a global lecture on the human form, anatomy and how modern innovations have created a new element to our forms: augmentation. These augments as we currently know them, are usually prosthetics--tech created to give appearance to the human form, and has evolved into mimicing and some cases working better than our original limbs and organs. In this entry, I'll walk you through my process from making myself into a 3D model, defining my materials for the mannequin to be laser cut, how to set up the file for the laser cutter, and finally assembly of the mannequin.

Prep Work

To scan or not to scan Unfortunately, I was unable to use a 3D scanner to capture a model of my body, so I instead used a tripod to take 4 photos of myself:

  1. In front view (me head on looking into the camera)
  2. Back view (behind me)
  3. Side/Profile (my right and left side)
  4. Back Side/Profile

In the animating world, this is often considered a "Character turnaround"[1], which describes a process that depicts the essense of a character and a guide on how they will look when rendered in scenes.

After that, I made some adjustments to the photos using photoshop to white balance them, allowing me to grab all the necessary details I needed to depict the shape of my body.

Modeling Myself

After the prep work was done, I opened up MakeHuman, to grab a generic 3D model of a male figure, and began customizing the following parameters to get it as close to my body type as possible. Once that was completed, I reopened photoshop to compare them and see if I had captured the essence of my body. I did spend a few hours tinkering with rigging the 3D form of myself and made a few posters for fun.

To continue the process of making me into a mannequin, I took my model into Rhino and manipulate the model so I can have a half bust for the print and assembly process. To do this, I sliced my model in half using a rectangular plane wedged between the end of my torso and beginning of my hips. I converted the model into a NURBS object to give it the volume and fill it needed so I can divide my model into even slices to be laser cut later. I saved and exported the file to be converted into a 2D unrolled surface in illustrator (almost like a a prefolded and then unfolded paper arrangement.)


Unfortunately, I could not get access to the lab in time to document this process the way I would have liked. Next week, I hope to contribute to this section of the document so that I can complete this assignment with full criteria. In the meantime, I worked with a laser cutting group in NYC to cut the materials so that I can assemble them.

Edit on 10/05/2020 I got lab access and had been working round the clock to deliver the final design. Taking inspiration from Ghost in the Shell, I created labels on each of the panels in a way to teach myself how to assemble the mannequin, and also as a decorative element that feels more like a scupltural piece of art. For the cutiing process, I used a SPEEDY 300 Laser Cutter connected to a Trotec Server. In illustrator I created

Assembly! Look at me, I'm a mannequin!


3D Models

Early Model with MakeHuman

Last update: October 7, 2020