Sunday, October 07, 2018

Smaug sculpture

I've never seen a 3D pen at work. In fact, until today, I never even knew 3D pens existed. I've heard of 3D printing, of course, and I'm beginning to think a 3D pen is a technological cousin of the 3D printer insofar as it extrudes hot material—in this case, plastic—through a nib that, when guided, can produce three-dimensional shapes. The difference is that the 3D printer works on the principle of a CAT scan: it creates "slices" that are stacked in layers to create a hollow or solid shape. A 3D pen, as you'll see in the video below, can create slices as well, but the artist doesn't work in CAT-scan-style layers: instead, what he does is a bit more like building an aircraft, working on the wings and fuselage separately before putting everything together and painting it all during final assembly. It's a marvelous and fascinating process, and while the result is, from some points of view, merely a "plastic" sculpture, you get to see all the creative effort and artistry that go into making this particular sculpture, which is of Smaug the dragon from the movie "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug."

Specifically, what I find enthralling about the above art is that the artist creates Smaug by starting off with wire frames; this is essentially how the special-effects guys who build practical-effects monsters for movies also create their fantasy beasts. Even the creators who build monsters entirely through computer-generated imagery use programs that allow them to begin building their ogres and dragons and trolls with wireframe imagery.

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