Grant Diffendaffer

Design. Make. Educate.

In keeping with the dinosaur theme in yesterday’s post, I thought I’d follow up with this look at how the world’s favorite digital sculpting software is used by the masters. I.L.M was founded by George Lucas in 1975 and continues to be at the forefront of motion picture visual effects.


This interview with Digital Creature Model Supervisor for Jurassic World, Geoff Campbell, explains the I.L.M. digital modeling workflow. The base model for the famous T-Rex was 3D scanned from the physical maquette used in the original Jurassic Park movie and sculpted in ZBrush. This is the sort of hybrid workflow that I especially enjoy.

How about you? Do you move back and forth between digital and physical when you are designing? What sort of digital tools do you use?  Let us know in the comment section!


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Further evidencing that 3D printing can play a part in a manual craft process rather than simply replacing it, Adam Beane Industries has announced a forthcoming sculptable 3D printing filament.

The material hardens at room temperature but becomes sculptable at 125 degrees F. Check out the video of Adam sculpting a printed dinosaur using hot tools. That low set temperature means that malleability could be restored using a warm oven, hot water, or a hot air blower. Also available in raw block form, Cx5 and Cx5s are premium sculpting materials designed to be used in place of sculpting clays, finish waxes, and prototyping plastics.

This is the type of tool that enables an easy creative flow in and out of the digital world. Perhaps you started out creating your model in a simple iPad app like 123D Creature and then print the sculpture so that you can give it a handmade touch. Or maybe you started with a small lump of clay or toy model and brought it into the digital realm via 3D scanning or by photogrammetry software like Autodesk Memento. Adding a digital step allows the artist to add photo-realistic detail, to scale and work effortlessly at different levels of zoom, and to benefit from the priceless technology of undo. 3D printing can bring re-scaled and detailed iterations back into the physical world again–either towards the end of final fabrication or simply to add a tangible step to improving a digital model.

via Fabbaloo

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Are you enjoying Autodesk Memento? Now is your chance to give some feedback to the development team via the Stanford Creative Ignition Lab.

We would be grateful if you would Take the Survey.

What might you do with Memento? I modeled these giant freighters automatically from just 150 photos:

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This video was created automatically by Memento by setting “Key Frame” views for the camera to fly though (an option presenting opportunity to filmakers and animators). Video can be exported at ultra high resolution (up to 4K).

The original model was a carved wooden horse. I used the photogrammetry option in Memento, to make an automatic 3D digital recreation from a collection of photos. Once the model has been generated, the user can export video or still images, directly 3D print, or send the model to digital sculpting software or CAD.

Here are a few examples of the various views available to you for Memento 3D models. Note the shift between Textured (layered with photo detail), Wireframe (displaying polygonal surface geometry), and Solid (white with shadows).

Have you tried Memento yet? It’s free, and the Stanford Creative Ignition Lab is asking for your feedback.




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I’ve been having a great time viewing and downloading models of the ancient artifacts that have been  3D scanned and posted at Smithsonian 3D and African Fossils.  I can’t wait to print this lion skull.  Great stuff to mash-up into my own 3D designs.  Reality computing and 3D viewing is coming to an internet near you!  What do you plan to do with digital 3D? Did you know that you can make your own 3D models from photos?  Check out Memento and let me know what you think!

by anvesoft
on Sketchfab


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I am in the midst of a thrilling new project involving 3D scanning and reality computing.  I’ve been selected to join the Innovators Program of the Stanford Creative Ignition Lab. Our mission is to explore developing technologies such as reality capture and augmented reality as they relate to the creative process and to innovate real world solutions.

As it happens, I have been using the core technology for some time in my own creative work.  The lab is hosted at Autodesk, where we have been exploring the use of a piece of Beta-stage software called Memento.  Currently available as a free download, Memento allows users of minimal technical ability to create photo-realistic 3D models using either plain photos or data from a digital scanner as input.

Since I don’t have a 3D scanner yet, I have been a heavy user of the photogrammetry features.  If you are not familiar with photogrammetry, it is the use of cross-referencing of two or more photos to infer distance measurements to and between every visable point in the photos. It is a technique that has long been used to manually calculate the location of geographic survey points and it has now been adapted to create detailed and accurate 3D models that can be used for digital fabrication, animation, and much more.

You may remember the bronze belt buckle I made for my friend Dan–the one with his face superimposed on a foreboding cityscape with lightning in the background.  I created the model of his face using 17 hastily captured photos and the “Create 3D” photo function in Memento.  To that I added a few sketch-up models for the cityscape and combined the whole thing in Zbrush. Finally, I brought the whole model back into Memento to use it’s automated mesh repair to ensure that my model was 3D printable.

So where do you come in?  We at the Stanford Creative Ignition Lab want your input!  Download Memento for free and try it out!  Send me an email at and let me know if you like it or not.  We would love to follow up with you with a brief survey to gather your opinions.

What would you use Memento for?  Let us know!  What features would you like to see in Memento? Please tell us!

I’ll be posting a bit more about Memento, but for now I’ll leave you with a bit of media.  Here is a model I made of a carved wooden lizard that you can navigate in 3D and even download to 3D print:

Here is a shot of the 3D printed lizard–after only two simple operations in Memento:
Printed Lizard
Here is a video of the Fox Theater in Oakland which has been automatically generated from within Memento:

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Storied Haven at Black Rock City, 2015.

Storied Haven at Black Rock City, 2015.

A few months ago I posted some teasers on the new Five Ton Crane project, Storied Haven.  Thanks to Bree Hylkema for envisioning this wonder and leading us down the path to construction.  Thank you to everyone who contributed to our fund raising and especially for all the hard work, raw talent, and blood sweat and tears that enabled us to step in to this story book fantasy.  The boot house is two stories tall, but countless stories deep.  A glimpse of that lays on the bookshelf, a beautiful walnut piece by Gomez.  Dozens of carved out art books contain fanciful dioramas and hidden wonders, and the whole house is replete with storybook ephemera:

There is a stove of course, with a whole family of gingerbread cookies.

Boot Upstairs


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It’s been a bit since Maker Faire now and my plans to launch a kickstarter for Steadcraft are simmering on the back burner for a bit while summer plans take precedence.  I have built out quite an assortment of earrings in fine silver, bronze, and copper, as well as a nice looking round of bronze and steel married metal earrings.  Mostly I’m judging my success by my ability to re-create a single design in all three metals and to have very few pieces lost to breakage, which happens both when the delicate earrings are in their fragile bone-dry state before firing, as well as when I hammer them to their final domed form.  It’s very frustrating to break pieces–especially when they came out of the kiln looking beautiful and I pound them with a hammer and dapping punch and they break.  You know–like I couldn’t just leave well enough alone?  It’s an instructive lesson though.  I don’t want to be sending out something so fragile that it breaks from regular use.  Hammering the metal work-hardens it, forms it, and if it breaks, either alerts me to a design defect or an under-fired kiln load.  At this point I just have to fill in a few missing pieces and I will have a full set of earrings ready to go.  Have a look:

As I mentioned previously, there are other designs in the works for Steadcraft–belt buckles, pins, cuffs, pendants, and more.  As with most prototyping processes, Accomplishing a design and prototyping plan on schedule can be a challenge on limited time and resources–but it is happening little by little as I can find time for it.  As far as that goes–I don’t have any time at all for the next six weeks so it will have to wait.  I may pare back on the designs I initially plan to offer–or given a bit of time might have them in time for the holidays along with the rest of the line.

When you see some of what I’ve been working on outside of Steadcraft, you will understand my diversion (plus everybody has to pay the bills right?).  In addition to some construction and fabrication work, I have been putting time into the Storied Haven project, set to debut in just weeks.  Stay tuned for more on Steadcraft, Storied Haven, and my other project, Star Star Roadhouse, after That Thing in The Desert.



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