Meet Adam Dewhirst – VFX pro from Guardians of the Galaxy, Dark Knight + more

If you follow our Twitter account then you've definitely seen 3D artist Adam Dewhirst's work - we're big fans. You've also seen his work in Guardians of the Galaxy, The Dark Knight, Doctor Who, The Golden Compass and more! We recently caught up with Adam to learn more about the work he does, his advice for new 3D designers, and of course - his favorite dinosaur. Be sure to follow him on Twitter and check out his website for lots of awesome 3D sculptures!



And now, onto the interview... 

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What a YEAR! 13 of our favorite 2013 models.

Happy New Year!!  And what a year it's been: lots of updates, new apps, and (most fun for us...) lots of models from the community!

We decided to put together a short list of 13 highlights - some of the most popular models, and others that got passed around in some emails.  It was pretty difficult, there have been so many great ones!

Fruteiro by Gilberto N Borges


Luke-Han-Leia-Capture by Kris Smith


Spy vs Spy by Omar Zuniga, Arizona


Small Spork by Connor Weller


Michael vs Satan by Cory Clawson


The Gremlor Monster by Adam Beamish


Variable Insulating Cup by Maundy


French Quarter House by Jamie Hebert


Siberian dragon by Josh Smith


2013-10-11-20-19-52 by Federico Infanti


Monster Bunny Rabbit by Amanda Jackson


Tug Boat by Steve Harney


Mechanical Axe by Jefferson Manalo


We could make 13 more of these lists and still not get to all our favorites.  Thanks so much to everyone for using the apps and we hope you have a great New Year!

What are some you think we missed?

Halloween(3D)! Playing with 123D at the Autodesk offices.

We've been getting into the spirit of Halloween at the Autodesk offices, and I'm taking the opportunity to test what I can do with the 123D apps.  

123D Make is great for making models at a larger scale cheaply and quickly.  Granted, we have some Epilog lasers at the shop that sure beat an Xacto knife, but it's all stuff you can do with technology that's available to you, either by hand or through 3D printer service, or your own machines.  123D Creature has an awesome community that is making some pretty impressive monsters, and Tinkercad is great for some quick fixes to 3D models.


Cardboard Cthulhu at Autodesk offices.

Cthulhu Guards the Gold:
I made a big cardboard Cthulhu based on a 123D Creature model by super-user Amanda Jackson to lord over the snack machines in Autodesk's Pier 9 kitchen.  In the 123D Gallery, there are literally thousands of models to choose from - and there's no better tool than 123D Make to make it big.  Just grab some glue.


cardboard devil in 123D make

Cardboard Devil:
I came across a really great model of the devil character from Legend.  The Tim Curry-Satan guy.  All I can remember is him hissing at Tom Cruise, 'Boiyyyyy...'.  This particular model is cool because it started out as a Darth Maul bust by Adam Beamish, then Kaj Steveman took the wireframe and ran with it to create The Darkness.  Now he lives at my desk.  Next, I'm going to paint him the appropriate red and black.



This one seems to be an office favorite - I love using RGB LED strips and I wanted to use the semi-transparent nature of 3D prints as a lamp.  It's pretty great, and remote controlled! 


Goldfish Ghost: 
For the Goldfish Ghost project, I just grabbed a great model from Tinkercad by user Chuck Norris (I really really hope it's really Mr. Norris), and ordered some Encapso from Smooth-On.  Voila - Ghost Fish!


There are some more in the works from me, but stay tuned to the Instructables' Make it REALly Scary contest to see other great projects..! 


Maker Faire Toronto

The 123D team made their way to Maker Faire Toronto this previous weekend to celebrate all things Maker. Check out this video they put together for the coolest cardboard knight costume you've ever seen. 


Don't be too jealous though, because you can make one of your very own using Autodesk 123D right now. 


From the 123D Gallery: Pig Monster from Amnesia by Amanda Jackson

When we heard about the Steam release of the horror game mashup, Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, something seemed familiar...  Then we remembered this great model by 123D Creature user Amanda Jackson back in March.   

Have you played it yet??


3D Printing Dinosaurs: The Future of the Past

Every so often we encounter people who end up stunning us with their ingenuity in the use of Autodesk’s 123D products. Check out the video above, and you'll know right away what we're talking about. As you can imagine, once we saw what Barry Joseph was doing with 3D-technology at the American Museum of Natural History, we knew we had to go to the source to find out more.

Fortunately for everyone, Barry was willing to share his time with us so that we could dive deeper into the cool projects he’s been working on. If you think about it, Barry is the reason why we do what we do: his creativity and desire to bequeath his knowledge onto the next generation inspires us to continue making the highest-quality, most accessible tools for him and those he teaches.

You may remember our interview with another paleontologist, Matt Christopher from a few months ago. Once you read on to see what Barry has to say about 3D technology, paleontology, and Indiana Jones, it will be confirmed that working with dinosaurs bones is pretty much the coolest job ever.



 The Legend himself


Which is your favorite dinosaur?



How are you using 3D technology (capturing, modeling, printing) in your line of work?

 We bought our first 3D printer (a MakerBot 2) this past January and spent Winter learning how to print found-objects from Thingiverse and create our own (like a simian skull) with 123DCatch. Convinced we could test its educational affordances within a two-week long summer program, we tested the concept by entering our Big Bone room and working with an Allosaurus' femur. The test worked: it took 20 minutes for two of us to get three strong captures, and another 30 to combine then into one print-ready fossil. We felt that was quick enough to scale into an educational program, and the learning curve we had to climb was within reach for high school youth.


What problems does 3D technology help you address?

 Both capturing and modeling helps us to teach youth how to closely observe.  Printing allows youth to touch and manipulate the untouchable. No one would ever give teens glue guns and ask then to combine real dinosaur fossils into a scientific model to demonstrate how they might have pursued prey or walked. But with 3D printers, we could do the next best thing. 


Do students and younger people have a natural affinity towards learning 3D technologies?

 That's hard to say. Is the current generation somehow more pre-disposed to problem solving in virtual 3D spaces than my own? I don't know. What I can say is that they seem to come with more of an open-mind (adults seeing our six printers often nervously quip about whether I can now print guns). And many (not all) have tremendous experience navigating 3D environments in high-end video games. At the same time, the most common response I get from adults who learn of our programs is, "Where can I sign up?"


Do you think 3D technology is accessible to all skill levels and ages?

 Eventually, yes. Sure, I can point to the 8 year-old whose Kickstarter campaign for a Thanksgiving-themed Chanukah menorah (both holidays coincide this year) began with him developing the model in the web-based Tinkercad then printing it on a Makerbot. Or my son when he was 5 designing a clock in SketchUp for his little sister's dollhouse. Or my 13-year old twin cousins who learned in just a few minutes how to use 123Dcatch on their iPhones so they could bring home their own 3D photos of our Museum's dioramas. But that would be misleading. 

The physical tools are pricey and clunky and the digital tools are free and, while miraculous, you still get what you pay for. I am confident the costs will come down, reliability will go up, and learning curves will smooth out - but until then you have to be willing to geek-out now and again if you want to get involved with digital fabrication.   


Have any of the students ever discovered something about the fossils that your team missed?

 No, but that would be crazy if they did. I am almost tempted to say they did just to start a new meme. Can you picture it? "Hey, did you hear some kids using 3D printers learned something about dinosaurs missed by the experts?" But of course, that is not the point. While scientists at the Museum and elsewhere DO use 3D scanners and modeling programs to advance science, when we put these tools in the hands of youth we are not asking them to contribute to science but to simulate what scientists do and their scientific practices. Even though they are working with real fossils, they are still far removed from the sophisticated skills developed by paleontologists to properly view and bring meaning to them. 


How was your experience using 123D Catch?

 123D Catch is so awesome. It relies on so much existing knowledge - how to turn on an iPhone, how to take a photo, etc. - that the digital fabrication components are relatively easy to teach and master. Youth need to learn the direction to take the photos, how much of the screen to fill with the image, and how to embrace background noise. But that's fairly easy. It still takes about two tries from a beginner to get a decent capture, and about 10 - 20 or so attempts before you can consistently get what I'd considered an excellent capture. And that's pretty good. 


Do you have any tips or tricks for people just getting started with 3D technologies?

 Read everything you can online, try things out, then watch videos, then read some more, then try more things out, then find a listserv or community where you can ask questions. Make something new and give it to someone you love. 


What’s next for 3D printing in your lab?

There are so many options on the table. We'll see what pans out over the next six months. Capturing Mammals, perhaps? We're already taken Capturing Dinosaurs to our Night at the Museum sleepovers, and planning for the World Maker-Faire NYC next week. Digital fabrication in our youth research programs, perhaps, and for the public in our learning lab. And more... but that's all I can say for now. You can watch for more details on my blog: and on my Twitter feed @mmmooshme.


And finally…Pick one: Indiana Jones or Jurassic Park?

 Indie, of course, as the character of Jones is inspired (albeit indirectly) by American Museum of Natural History's former director, dinosaur bone hunter, and adventurer-extraordinaire Roy Chapman Andrews (look it up!).




Interview with a Dinosaur Hunter!

  We meet a lot of interesting people at the Maker Faire events.  Every once in a while, there's someone who's been quietly laboring over something absolutely cool and I'm stoked that I get to gawk at it for a little bit.  Last week in Kansas City we met Matt Christopher, a Paleontologist at Science City in Kansas City and he showed us a 3D printed model of a Psittacosaurus skull, rendered using 123D Catch and Blender. I couldn't help but follow up with some questions - some serious and some irreverent, but all enlightening.

123D: What’s your name?
MC:  Matt Christopher (like the children's sports book author) 

123D: What is your quest?
MC:To stay awake and get more stuff accomplished. 

123D: What do you really do?
MC: I'm a paleontologist who has too much fun working with digital media tools making things like fulldome planetarium productions and interactive didactic kiosk apps.  I work at Kansas City's Science Center,  Science City, and teach an online course for Park University in Parkville, MO: Geology 300-Introduction to Dinosaurs. 

123D: When did you know you wanted to do that?
MC:I knew I wanted to be a dinosaur hunter for as long as I can remember.  I think I remember  learning that was called a paleontologist rather than an archaeologist when I was 8 years old, and have been correcting people ever since. 

123D: Who’s your biggest fan?
MC: I think my greatest fan must have been my grandmother who passed away earlier this year.   At her funeral, I met a number of people I had either never met, or met when I was so young I did not remember them. They apparently all knew me and of my paleontological exploits through the newspaper articles she  made sure they all got to see and hear about. 

123D: What’s your favorite dinosaur?
MC: Ankylosaurus was one of the dinosaur genera that saw the Age of Reptiles come to an end.  It was heavily armored, had a low center of mass and so was adapted to a world where survival  meant being able to intimidate the likes of Tyrannosaurus with appearances and body language alone. That would be my mount of choice were I to find myself riding across a Cretaceous terror-scape. 

123D: Finish this sentence: “Take the house, take my car, just don’t take my….”
MC: The obvious answer here is my family.  I cherish my 5 & 6 year old boys, Lane and Landon,  and my wife, Ashlea.  (Aren't you proud Sweetie?  I remembered not mention your age!) 

123D: What are you working on (‘making’) right now?
MC: I've got a small ongoing dinosaur replica side project ( molding and casting fossil teeth and claws. I have a jigsaw puzzle of dinosaur rib parts lain out across my workbench and I'm also working on mounting a Psittacosaurus, a 6-foot long herbivorous dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous.  I've 3D printed a replica of it which I'm using to design the armature for the real skeleton which will most likely be composited of 3D printed and  laser cut parts. 

123D: Give an example of a recent ‘AHA!’ moment in your life.
MC: After gluing my 3D printed Psittacosaurus skull together and inspecting it closely, I noticed that psittacosaurs did not have forward facing stereoscopic vision (as herbivores would not have as  much use for as predatory dinosaurs would), but it may have had stereoscopic UPWARD facing vision.   This would be important for hitting a target with its head lowered, battering-ram style. 

123D: Your White Whale.  Is there a project that just keeps getting away from you?
MC: If only I could stay awake even longer!  I've got a number of fossils in my garage that need to be prepared but I think my muses slap me around the most over not finding time to do some independent fulldome feature production.  Then there's that paper I should write about that epiphany mentioned above. 

123D: First thing you remember really breaking and then fixing:
MC: I can't remember if I was 6 or 7, but I was standing on the bathroom sink and squirted what seemed like a mile of toothpaste out of a nearly new tube when I stepped on it and the cap popped  off.  Knowing I'd get in trouble for: A. standing on the sink, B. trying to get in the medicine cabinet, which was of course why I was standing on the sink and C. wasting so much a tube of toothpaste that everyone would remember was full that morning, I decided to squirt the toothpaste back into the tube using Mom's cake decorating kit.  There was a hint of mint to the next couple of cakes Mom  decorated, but other than that, I'm pretty sure I got away with it. 

123D: Please share one tidbit of technical knowledge and/or expertise that someone could possibly go their entire life without needing to know.
MC: If you have a web browser open, Control+U opens a portal to "The Matrix". But seriously, brachiosaurid cervical vertebrae are volumetrically more air than bone. 

123D: Cake or Pie?
MC: Pie.  Key lime.   

Gotta love key lime.  See more of Matt's project here at his Instructables page and some dinosaur bits on the 123D gallery.