02/09/2015No Comments

The Blanks ready to download and 3D print on Thingyverse

As part of the constant tinkering and testing with 3D printing, I have released a free download of 2 little characters I have created. "The Blanks", as I've named them, are two little characters, 10cm in height, with no real distinguishable features, perfect for a blank.

The 3D models have been uploaded to Thingiverse, click to go to the website to download them for free.

But what is a blank? MakerBot released Zee Blank, and the concept is to 3D print your own blank, and modify it however you please. Some of the creations on the Makerbot site are brilliant! The concept behind The Blanks is the same, print the 3D models, and then modify, paint, customize to your hearts content, then share your creation with the world.


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The Blanks, 3D printed and awaiting customization.

I wanted to create The Blanks as an alternative to Zee Blank, as I felt Zee Blank is just too big, and very masculine in form. I created the couple as a male / female combination, but either could be modified to what ever gender you like.

 

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The 3D model is set-up ready to print.

The Blanks are printed in several parts, which then fit together perfectly without the need for glue. Ideally the prints need to be sanded first, then painted to give a nice finish, or alternatively you could use a high build-up primer to give a smooth finish. The choice really is yours, and I can't wait to see how The Blanks will be modified. I will be having a go myself very soon, please don't laugh at my below average painting skills, I'm far more capable with a mouse and keyboard than a brush and paint!!

In the future I plan to release "add-ons" for The Blanks, maybe some new shoes, different heads, and possibly other props too. Let me know what you'd like to see added, and of course let me know if you have any comments! Follow me on Thingiverse here and of course sign up to the mail list to hear of the latest releases and info.

Also send me pictures of your creations, I'd love to feature them on the blog too!

Dean

 

 

 

11/08/2015No Comments

Nice to work on local CGI projects

Usually the work I produce is from way outside Yorkshire (my current record is California!), so when projects come along that are literally just up the road it's always nice grab the project and get stuck in.

Recently I finished the 315 Bar and Restaurant project, for which I created a CGI to show the proposed development of the existing building. At the start of the project I met on site, where the work had already begun, and immediately felt I knew more about the project that just looking over drawings and sketches.

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Architectural visualisation of the proposed building.

The site was full with machinery, workmen, offices, but if you looked beyond this you could see the surroundings, the existing buildings, the trees and much more, which really helped when creating the final illustration. I also took a camera, shot numerous reference images, and referred back to these during the project. To match the stone texture to the existing building, I even photographed a stone wall of the building, and then re-created this to use on the 3D model.

Finally, it's also great to meet a client, via a short journey, especially when the drive is out into the lovely Yorkshire countryside on a sunny day!

I love local projects, and I'll be sure to drive out there when it's complete, even if it is just to compare the CGI to the real thing!

Dean

10/08/2015No Comments

Interactive Car Configurator Demo Now Online

Over at our sister website, www.constructandconfigure.com, we have been busy putting together our third showcase demo interactive application using the Construct and Configure Interactive Application. In this demo we used the existing application, but decided the push the number of options and configurations by showing how the app could be used to visualise a vehicle, in this case a Mini Cooper, a car of which I've admired since it's release 15 years ago.

Interactive CGI car vehicle interior configurator application

Configure the Mini Cooper on any device.

In the app you can configure the paint colours, wheels, brake calliper colours and much more. Creating this app was slightly more complicated to create than the kitchen configurator and the furniture configurator simply because of the number of options. We could have added more options, there are no limits within the application its self, but felt the number of configurations possible (27216 unique configurations to be exact) was enough to give a taste of how powerful the application can be.

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Visit the app website to test the configurator.

We also wanted to showcase the layering of the various CGI elements and options. For example the decals sit perfectly over the paint work, and the brake callipers sit under the wheels, all of which is reflected perfectly on the floor. OK we like to show off, but we're proud of what we've created, and we feel this demo shows the potential it has to showcase any product.

 

In other Construct and Configure news, development of the Share function has begun, and will hopefully be complete in a few weeks time. We're really excited by this, as the Share function will make it extremely easy to share configurations with friends, family and anyone else via email and social media, which in turn will raise the profile of the products.

 

If you'd like to know more about the configurator, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

 

Dean

 

06/07/2015No Comments

Creating an alloy wheel in 3Ds Max

Many of the 3D models used inside my scenes and environments are created from scratch, either from drawings, sketches and even photographs. This always helps projects to feel unique and different from other studios and work, and ensures images aren't restricted by stock 3D libraries.

This quick video time-lapse shows the creation of an alloy wheel for a future project, and gives a brief insight into how I create custom 3D models, from the simplest of information.

Dean

11/06/2015No Comments

May Design 2015 – Personal Highlight – Randonneur Chair

Last month I visited May Design by the London Docklands, and what a cracking exhibition it was. I had never been before, and although I had read the website and see the previews, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. True to its website, there was a mix of furniture, interiors, kitchen, bathroom, fabrics, and much more.

I found so much inspiration from all areas of the exhibition, and met many people, but one piece which really stood out for me was the Randonneur Chair.

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I stumbled across this fantastic retro cycle inspired rocking chair in the new designers area, surrounded by other great new pieces I must say. The chair is unlike any rocking chair I have seen, and perhaps with my recent interest in cycling (I ditched the car for a cycle over a year ago to commute), I was drawn to this chair like a magpie to something shiny! Saying that though, it isn't that shiny, it's much softer, and inviting. The mixture of fabrics, wood and metal (Reynolds 631 tubing, as used on cycles) compliment each other brilliantly, it really is a thing of beauty!

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The curved handle bars are the most obvious reference to the bicycle, as are the bottle holders, however once you examine the form you'll see more similarities with the bicycle. The front "leg" of the chair, and the two connecting bars are directly inspired from the cycles front frame and forks. Also the leather bag on the rear of the seat could easily be a retro style saddle bag.

randonneur-chair-2-1

The attention to detail on this chair is amazing, and really has to been seen to fully appreciate the craftsmanship in creating a chair like this. Sadly I didn't get the chance to sit in the chair, but perhaps, as with many great chairs, you could sit in it, but it's far better to stand and simply view the chair as a work of art.

Please head over to www.twomakers.co.uk to know more about this chair, and the two guys behind it!

 

I'm off for a ride,

Dean

05/06/2015No Comments

Interactive Configurator Launched

Over the past few months, I have been working with a web development team to create a new interactive application, which utilises the flexibility of CGI with some web programming magic. We wanted to create an application to allow users to interactively configure anything, then share, save or print their configuration.

The application has been given it's own brand new website, check out www.constructandconfigure.com to see what all the fuss is about, and to play with the two demo applications.

The application is a "configurator" and has been designed to enable users to change finishes, features and other options by clicking on buttons to access menus. In the kitchen demo, the user can change the kitchen finish, the door handles and the worktops, but almost any visual element of a product, space or architecture could be configurable. In the kitchen demo we could if we wanted to add the ability to change the appliances, the stools, or even the floor and wall finishes. This is one reason why using 3D is great, we can create these CGI variations quickly, store them digitally, and present them in a way which is quick and easy for the end users to see.

The interactive kitchen demo application.

The application has been designed to work on most modern devices, PCs, laptops, tablets, smart phones, iPads and anything else with a modern web browser and a reasonably fast internet connection. We wanted to make the application accessible to as many people as possible, so it made sense to make the application run inside a web browser, without the need for any software downloads.

As standard, we have added 3 features to the app, save, print and share. The save button will download an image, overlaid with a description of the configuration, to your device. The print function simply prints the configuration, and again with a description so you know exactly the chosen configuration. The share button is perhaps the most complex function, but something we felt was required to allow users to share their configuration quickly and easily. When the user clicks the share button, a pop up window is displayed with a unique web address. The user can then highlight, copy and paste this address to Twitter, Facebook, email or anything else. When the address this then re-opened in a web browser, the users configuration is displayed. For this app we wanted to avoid user log-ins and passwords as we wanted the experience to be fast and user friendly, and using a unique web address works perfectly.

The app works on touch screen devices, as well as a traditional mouse.

We see this app to be primarily used to visualise and configure products. A sales team could use the application to show potential buyers the various configurations of their product, which may help the buyers visualise their potential purchase, and hopefully secure a sale. Similarly the app could be used in show rooms, where it's physically impossible to show all the product variations, but with the app customers could quickly and easily see any configuration they wish.

The application could be used by housing developers to show potential house buyers their new home, and then allow them to choose fixtures and finishes, which many house builders now allow. The possibilities for the app is limitless!

Use the app on the go, but be careful using it on 3G or 4G as data charges may occur!

The application has been fully custom made to suit our requirements. We did this for one important reason, we can modify, change, or add features to the application when required. The application is web based, and with the advances in HTML 5, more and more is possible. As an example we could add a clip board, user log-in, or even link the app with an e-commerce website allowing the users to purchase directly from the app.

View the configurator anywhere.

Currently the configurator doesn't allow the user to build products, they can't alter the kitchen layout for example, but this isn't why we created this application. In order to visualise the products in a photo realistic manor, the app uses pre-rendered CGI images, layered on top of each other to create the users configuration. Advances in real-time visualisation has shown we can create almost photo-real visuals using technology such as Unity 3D or the Unreal game engine, however using this kind of software means the users have to download plugins or software suitable for their device, which is something we didn't want to do. In the future I'm sure this will change, but for now we believe our current approach is the best way!

So head over to http://www.constructandconfigure.com and play with the application demos.

If you have any questions or comments about the configurator, please get in touch!

Dean

08/05/2015No Comments

3D Interactive Furniture Demo 02

In-between projects I continue to tinker and play with new tech, software, and areas of interest. Usually these side-projects are different from the typical 9-5 projects, but allow myself to look, play and develop new technology and ideas.

Anyway, following on from 3D interactive test 01, this latest revision shows some changes, mainly the inclusion of drop-down menus, and a new way of rotating around the object (the user now clicks and holds down the left mouse button, then moves the mouse) is much nicer to use.

At this stage of development, the main purpose of these demos is to build functionality, hence the very standard looking menus, but once the functions and workings of the app are working, adding the finer detail and visual elements is the easier part (in theory!).

Launch 3D Interactive Furniture Demo 02

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The app is built with Unity 3D, which very knidly allows the app to also install and run on mobile devices as well as the web. An augmented reality version is also being developed which I will record very soon to show.

Any comments, please let me know!

Dean

05/05/2015No Comments

Ard Digital’s logo & 3D inspired font

Not only do I use 3D software to create beautiful images of architecture, interiors or products, but the software and techniques I've developed can be used to create more "graphical" elements, and in this case I created a font set to use with the Ard Digital logo and other marketing media.

The font was initally developed to create a new Ard Digital logo, and is based upon polygon / fractal concepts. The simplicity of the font silhouette is deliberatly in contrast to the random and chaotic polygonal shading. I personally love how each letter is unique, but uniform at the same time and I also love how my eyes flick from letter to letter looking at the finer detail and shading, much in the same way I would look at an Eboy illustration.

3D inspired fontThe finished basic font set.

Unlike a traditional 2D illustrator or graphic designer, I continue to use 3D as a basis to create graphical elements. I would imagine an illustrator would use a piece of software such as Adobe Illustrator to draw, colour, and gradient the images. Don't get me wrong, using illustrator is fine, and has advantages of 3D, but for me the speed and creativity I can produce from using a 3D based software easily out weighs the 2D type software.

3D inspired fontA 3D view of the font within the 3D software.

The above screen capture shows the font in it's most basic form, a chaotic set of polygons, which from this angle look unlike a set of letters and numbers. However when viewed from above the 3D models take the form of the finished font, and the random, crumpled effect is less obvious.

This 3D font is just a quick example of how 3D software and techniques can be used in different ways from the usual CGI buildings, interiors and products. For me using 3D is quicker, faster and more flexible. This font / 3D model could now be moved, scaled, or even animated. Maybe creating a small video ident could be the next little identity project for Ard Digital!

Dean

25/03/2015No Comments

3D Interactive Furniture Demo 01

Recently Unity3D (a fantastic piece of software to create interactive projects and games) became free, along with features such as real-time lighting, and fancy materials.

I've wanted to have a play with Unity3D for a while, so during a bit of downtime I opened it up and created a quick test project to experiment with and play....

Launch 3D Interactive Furniture Demo 01

3D Interactive FurnitureA screen grab from the demo.

At the moment, to change the furniture style, press buttons 1, 2, 3, 4, and use your mouse to rotate around the chair, and the mouse wheel to zoom in and out.

The next stage is to add buttons (some programming needed, which I know very little of!), and to also give options to change colours of parts of the furniture. The app can then be ported to tablets, phones, desktops, as well as websites.

Currently the 3D Interactive Furniture Demo is a very basic demo, only really scratching the surface of what is possible.

24/03/2015No Comments

Digital Room Sets Will Never Be Built

"Digital room sets will never be built."

This is a realisation I had whilst working on a current digital room set project, and it's not something I've ever thought about before. With architectural visualisations and product CGIs, the purpose of a 3D visualisation is to preview or to sell something, that one day will become real. A CGI of a building is pretty good representation of how the end architecture will look, and so estate agents can sell the house before it's built. The same goes for products. These things will be built, and I love seeing the real thing, and then comparing the digital to the real.

Room sets though will never be built. The products that sit in the digital rooms may one day be manufactured and sold, some might even be available now, but the room will never exist, and it's almost certain to say that the exact configuration of a kitchen or bedroom shown within a CGI is very unlikely to be exactly replicated.

Digital room sets are entirely 3D polygons, computer generated textures, and simulated lighting. Wooden beams, or a stone chimney breast are only pixels, with little consideration is often made to whether these architectural features would be strong enough, durable, or even possible in reality. So long as they look correct and give the impression of realism, then that's usually as far as the design will go.

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An alpine digital room set to visualise bi-folding door.

By removing the need for these room sets to be built, we can allow ourselves to build digital room sets which might not exist in reality. The 3D room set used in the Student Mattress Room Set Project doesn't exist in reality, but it could. However by removing the constraint of the room needing to the accurate, strong, and true to technical aspects such as building regulations, the temptation can be to create something un-realistic.

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A student digital room set created to visualise a new mattress.

With 3D there are no size or design constraints, we can make rooms as large, unusual, wacky as we feel. This can sometimes be a mistake. For example, with the student room set, we could have easily made the set 10m wide, with elaborate architectural detail, modern furniture, and so on, but it would have quickly not looked like a student room at all. Yes the furniture we added is slightly unusual, and the room is perhaps more elaborate that the student rooms I remember from my University days, but it's still believable, it could be made like this. I believe this balancing act is key to creating a great interior digital room set. Realistic 3D models, materials and lighting only work well if the design and architecture is spot on to begin with. As I've said already, structural and other constraints don't apply in 3D CGI projects a literal sense, but they do apply in a believable sense.

There is the other side of the coin with to the lack of constraints, and this is we as artists and designers have total freedom to create what we want. If you want to show your product on the edge of a volcano, or even on the moon, then CGI and 3D magic can make these possible, at a tiny fraction of the cost of doing it in real life.

Digital room sets can also be stored away on tiny hard drives, archived for later use, amends, or new products. There's no need to de-construct the set, and there are no time limits on how long a set can stay constructed for. Digital room sets can also be quickly changed, re-styled, and given a new look very quickly. Check out the interactive applications over at the interactive page to see more about how interactive applications can be used in conjunction with digital room sets.

Anyway, I'm straying from my original point slightly. To the average viewer, a digital room set may look no different to a traditional, photographed room set, and I guess that's why digital room sets prove popular with clients and customers. My point is that for all the design, styling and virtual construction work, the sets are merely polygons and pixels, and will never be built, touched or experienced in the real world.

 

Digital room sets will never be built....

....and this makes me sad....

....but I think I'll be OK!

 

Dean

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