Products and Design

Out of Shape 8: Conquering the Guinea Pig Armor

Remember my first Out of Shape post way back from last January where I pledged to learn 3D modeling as one of my 2017 resolutions? Albeit delayed, I closed out the year with an iteration of my latest design challenge: guinea pig armor for my friend over at MiniWarGaming. His name is Donny — the guinea pig that is, not the friend.

Meet Donny!

The process of designing it was really long as I often would model it one way, then realize I wanted (or in most cases, needed) to do it totally differently. In preparation for this project I’d also bought the ZBrush Core x Walcom package, so I upgraded from the free stuff I’d been using up to this point. Big steps! I took the prototyping process really seriously for this project because, without an actual guinea pig to measure and use as a model, I had to get creative.

After saying goodbye to my beloved test model (eggplants eventually have to be thrown out… we learned), I was luckily able to buy a scan of a guinea pig from Hum3D, which I used as the base. I wish I’d taken more screenshots of the design process because this project did not come easily to me, but it turns out I only really took one — which is of the initial shape I’d created in Blender before sculpting it in ZBrush Core.

I found that the hardest part of this project was trying to figure out how the heck to make the two parts I designed interlock. I figured I could sculpt this as one large segment of armor, but if the guinea pig has any desire to wiggle around, it wasn’t going to be comfy.

So after having attempted a looped connection, I decided it would be more effective to meld 3D modeling with some good old-fashioned string. By designing each segment with loops attached to the inner side of the armor, some string could be used to tailor it to the length of the guinea pig while allowing a little wiggle room (literally, in this case).

I sent the first print to the MiniWarGaming team, but it seems that I have some tweaking to do on the design so that the model doesn’t cover Donny’s ears while also fitting his crazy, adorable geometric fur. Josh let me know that this photo is just an example of Abyssinian fur but the email made me laugh. We also chatted about the necessary changes during a Skype call — both helpful steps in the design iteration and feedback process!

In non-guinea-pig news, I had another project opportunity pop up, but I couldn’t figure out an easy way to pull it off. My aunt had asked if I could design a little gnome with her neighbor’s face on it (apparently they try and outdo each other with weird gifts). I’d found this AI-powered tool that turns a selfie into a 3D model but couldn’t figure out how to import the model into Blender or ZBrush Core with the corresponding color mesh. Anyone have any ideas on how I could have pulled that off?

In any case, stay tuned on updates to this saga!

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