3D printing video game characters: Hyperspace Madness at Autodesk University

Playing video games can be a lot of fun, and sometimes you want to bring the fun out beyond the screen: making characters from a game physically real. For Autodesk University, earlier this month, the 123D team worked closely with Autodesk's Media and Entertainment group to explore the process of 3d printing video game characters.

A member of our M&E team models the full-size Sven suit next to the 3D print display

Our Media and Entertainment group has produced a top class game called "Hyperspace Madness" to provide a compelling demo of how to use Autodesk tools to build games. We wanted to take all the various characters and models in the game, and 3D print them, in order to make a nice display at Autodesk University.

Close-up of the 3D printed display

This can be a challenge, since objects designed for a game aren't necessarily easy to print. For example, game objects are often modeled at low resolution, and rely on a color texture to make it seem convincing. The geometric modeling of the objects can cause problems too: the objects are represented as a shell with no volume, and this can cause problems with printing.

The 123D team is also about making things real, so we set out to use tools from our 123D suite to prepare some models for printing, and this is how we did it.

The game's main character, a satellite repairman called Sven, is shown in many poses to animate him while walking. We wanted to select some frames from this "walk cycle" and print them out. The first thing to do was to make sure that the character was represented as a solid: to do this we opened the files in Meshmixer, and used the Inspector tool to identify and fix any gaps that could cause problems. We wanted Sven to stand on his own, so we modeled an oval base using 123D Design, exported it as an STL file, and combined the two using Tinkercad - our entry level, browser-based design software has very powerful tools for working with meshes!

We also wanted to print Sven's antagonists: aggressive squid like creatures called the Killamari, that use robotic suits to get around. We opened the 3D model using the Autodesk 3D Print Utility, which we used to reinforce fine details that would cause problems in printing. This model was then merged with an oval base using Meshmixer.

Sven and the Killamari were printed on our Objet Connex 500 printers, which can render extremely fine detail.

The Sven walk cycle being printed

Of course, we wanted Sven and Killamari to have a place to run around in, so we also printed some of the buildings and props from the game. These were prepared for printing using a combination of tools including Autodesk 3D Print Utility and Meshmixer. Since these objects are much bigger, Type A Machines offered to print them on their Series 1 printers, which have a very large build area, and can work with innovative new materials.

123D Catch for iOS7: All grown up!!

It is my great pleasure to announce a brand spankin' new 123D Catch for all iOS devices running iOS7. 123D Catch is available at the AppStore right now here!!

 123D Catch: All grown up. Now for iOS 7

Before I get into the nitty gritty, I have to let you know that 123D Catch has grown up today. You can see the difference in our faithful volunteer/poster child, Aidan, who has also grown up. See his captures above from when we first launched 123D Catch two years ago, and compare it to those from the new version. Check out this quick video peek at what's in store with this monumental upgrade:

                      

Under the hood (aka in the cloud), processing your captures has been completely reworked with you in mind! The new 123D Catch pipeline significantly improves on the old process: stitching all of your capture photos together automatically, and creating detailed 3D images with crisp photo-real textures. Yes, gone are the days of manual stitching!!

That's only on the backend...we've also designed a brand new, slick app exclusively for iOS 7. Some highlights and geek speak:

  • Guided capture: dynamic visual feedback while capturing to ensure you are shooting the best possible photographs.
  • Engage with and follow other 3D photographers and their projects in the gallery.
  • Increased photo limit to 70 photographs so you can ensure complete coverage.
  • Advanced 3D previews of captures in the gallery
  • Processing higher resolution images means finer details in your capture.
  • App will now wait for a wifi connection to upload photographs for a capture, unless you explicitly tap the go ahead to use your data plan.
 
We hope you are as excited about these new updates as we are! Be sure to check back into the blog tomorrow for an amazing project that exemplifies all the amazing new things 123D Catch can do.
 
Visit www.123dapp.com/catch for more info!

 

Introducing Autodesk Meshmixer, awesome 3D remixes at your fingertips

Update Feb 18, 2014: To provide you with a streamlined 3D printing experience, the Autodesk 3D Print Utility has been integrated into Meshmixer - a powerful yet easy-to-use mixing and sculpting software.  Now, when you click “3D Print…” from any of the 123D apps, your project will be loaded into Meshmixer to prepare, refine and preview your models to print with confidence.  To download the latest version of Meshmixer, please visit http://123dapp.com/meshmixer.

We're pleased to announce Autodesk Meshmixer, joining the 123D family of apps. Meshmixer is a powerful tool for working with 3D mesh files. It's been around for while, so you may have heard of it or used it, but we've made some really interesting enhancements to it.

Check out the video below and see what it can do, and read on for more.

What does Meshmixer do?

If you're new to Meshmixer, let us introduce you. Meshmixer works with 3D mesh files, which you can think of as a kind of digital clay. 3D scanning systems like 123D Catch or the Makerbot digitizer produce mesh files, as do 3D sculpting programs like 123D Creature and 123D Sculpt. 3D design files from programs like 123D Design are more like building blocks - they let you move and change clearly defined geometric elements. Mesh files are popular for 3D printing and other fabrication techniques, so all 3D design programs can produce them.

Meshmixer lets you edit and combine mesh files in many different formats in a very fluid and organic manner. It can also help you repair files from scans and preparing them for printing.

What's new in Meshmixer?

If you're familiar with Meshmixer already, here is a highlight of what we've done for Meshmixer 2:

First, we've created a brand new user interface. All the features are still there, but they're a lot easier to find and use. A row of icons along the left side of the screen gives a comprehensive overview of every feature and tool. Even if you've been using Meshmixer for a while, go ahead and take a look, you might discover something that you didn't know was there! 

Second, we've added some extremely powerful tools for preparing models for 3D printing, around the area of support material. When working with complex organic forms, you will often need to provide a support or "scaffold" to ensure that the model prints correctly. In Meshmixer, we've added tools that let you customize precise and easy-to-remove support materials for your models.  You can also analyze the strength of a model, and send your creations directly to the Autodesk 3D Print Utility.

Third, we've provided the option to navigate scenes using two different styles of mouse interaction: you can continue to use the classic Meshmixer style controls, or you can switch to the same style of mouse navigation used by the 123D apps (right-click to orbit, middle-click to pan, etc).

We're proud of this release, and we're looking forward to welcoming new users and seeing what great things you can do with it! Meshmixer is available as a free download from 123dapp.com/meshmixer