Red Nose Day 2017: Digits2Widgets 3D Prints Bespoke Celebrity Caricature Red Noses

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Red Nose Day sets out every other year in a campaign, largely across the UK, to use laughter to bring people together — and while the day itself is a riotous good time, with celebrities bringing to life some truly excellent comedy specials, the message behind Comic Relief‘s effort is a bit more of a serious endeavor. The campaign is a popular, and fruitful, effort to bring in donations to those in need.

“Since its launch in 1988, Red Nose Day has become something of a British institution. It’s the day, every two years, when people across the land can get together and do something funny for money at home, school and work,” the campaign is described. “There’s a fantastic night of TV on the BBC, with comedy and entertainment to inspire the nation to give generously. Comic Relief spends the money raised by Red Nose Day to help people living tough lives across the UK and Africa.”

Ed Sheeran in Monrovia, Liberia

Today, March 24th, is Red Nose Day 2017, and the BBC is currently running its comedy specials; viewers watching BBC One tonight in the UK can expect to watch comedy and music from a broad line of celebrities. Sir Lenny Henry, Joe Lycett, Rob Beckett, Romesh Ranganathan, Warwick Davis, Sally Phillips, Jonathan Ross, French & Saunders, Ed Sheeran, Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, Emeli Sande, Russell Brand, Graham Norton (and a “supersized sofa”), Noel Fielding and Jonathan Ross are among the many presenters, musical guests, interviewers and personalities gracing TV screens tonight.

Personally, I’ve been among those waiting with great excitement for Red Nose Day Actually, the “sequel” to one of my favorite movies of all time, Love Actually. (The full version will air in the US on May 25th.)

Red Nose Day is especially well known for the use of the eponymous red noses (an enduring symbol of comedy, from clowns of yore to another of my favorite movies, Mr. Right). While these red noses appear throughout the efforts of Comic Relief’s campaign in a variety of forms, this year they also took shape in another way, thanks to Digits2Widgets‘ 3D printing efforts. The London-based company offers 3D printing, 3D scanning, and design services, boldly noting that they “have the largest capacity of Nylon SLS (selective laser sintering) in London, which provides us with an unbeatable 2 day production time and maintain highly accurate and consistent results at competitive prices” — and so they put that capacity to use for Red Nose Day 2017 in the creation of nine bespoke celebrity designs to be fully unveiled and on noses tonight. (None of the celebrities whose cartooned likenesses appear on these noses has been named directly.)

As 2016 wound down, Comic Relief approached Digits2Widgets (D2W), beginning a conversation about the creation of special celebrity caricatures in the form of 3D printed red noses. In just about two weeks’ time, D2W designed, 3D printed, and presented the nine red noses for Comic Relief, who by January’s end were using the figures to promote tonight’s event.

“The resulting noses are so beautifully produced you don’t really have to talk about the technology that made them,” D2W says… but we’re going to, anyway.

Upon initial consultation, D2W explains, the creative team from Comic Relief showed them a nose to be used for this year, which they realized would be a good fit for recreation using nylon SLS 3D printing and hand painting. With materials agreed upon, it was time to get to work in creating the CAD files to get the creation process underway. Because, as D2W notes, “the art in any 3D print lies in the quality of the CAD files,” they sought images from Comic Relief to get the perfect quasi-likenesses for the bubbly caricatures.

Comic Relief used Adobe Illustrator to produce detailed images of the noses from several views, ready to be realized in 3D and ultimately popped onto noses. The team at D2W kept certain considerations in mind as they worked with the design files, which included views from the front and from each side. The back, of course, is meant to be stuck on a person’s nose and so did not require a detailed bit of modeling where it would be against a face.

“As we knew that once printed, the noses were going to be hand decorated, we modelled tiny channel recesses at the junction between colours on the noses, so that the decorating would be quicker and crisper. This shows that to get brilliant results, it’s not simply a case of producing great shapes, but understanding the downstream processes and modifying the shapes slightly in order to make those further processes better,” they explain. “We also selected a shell thickness for the noses, so that once printed, they would be flexible enough to pinch open and lightly pinch on to a human nose.”

Following the design’s finalization, D2W 3D printed each of the noses in nylon. D2W employs 3D printers from EOS, using Nylon PA2200 powder, a white powder on the basis of polyamide 12. Hand finishing involved painting each of the nine noses using the carefully chosen Pantone color profiles Comic Relief specified. Some priming and hand painting later, the noses were ready to wear — and Comic Relief expressed great satisfaction in the efforts.

“Just a quickie to say we all love the noses!!” Comic Relief Account Director Creative Orla Flood expressed to D2W. “They have genuinely surpassed our original expectations!”

As we all enjoy the frivolity of red noses abounding today, and enjoy the escapades of entertainers, it’s important to remember that all the laughter is for a good cause. As D2W donated these 3D printed red noses, we can all play a part in the efforts by donating to Red Nose Day 2017.

And just a friendly reminder that Coldplay headed up a Game of Thrones musical delight for Red Nose Day 2015:

Discuss in the Red Nose Day forum at

[Source/Images: Digits2Widgets]

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