3D designer Jody Garrett got a great assignment from his employer: Help us figure out how to use 3D printing to enhance our thriving architectural practice.
Garrett works for the Neenan Company, an architectural firm in Fort Collins, Colorado, where he uses 3DS Max to take two-dimensional designs to three dimensions. He explained, “I provide the ArchViz services for our design team,” which it makes it much easier for clients to visualize construction outcomes.
Garrett got the go-ahead from his bosses to experiment to his heart’s content while learning to use ZBrush, the digital sculpting and painting program by Pixologic. With ZBrush, you can produce incredibly realistic renders, including creating lighting and atmospheric effects, taking a design from rough sketch stage to 3D printer ready. Garrett was not only evaluating ZBrush, he was getting a handle on 3D printing and had pretty much free reign to design something not even particularly relevant to his job at Neenan. Garrett had a little bit of experience with 3D printing when he made some candy molds with his daughter but that’s about the extent of it.
Garrett began the training exercises for ZBrush and, at the same time, returned to a source of inspiration: the work of artist M.C. Escher. He’d seen an illustrated book, M.C. Escher: His Life and Complete Graphic Work, which provided an in-depth look at the artist’s life and work. Escher is best known for his complex optical illusions. Garrett practiced in ZBrush with a few Escher prints. He found the sometimes dark symbolism of Escher’s work compelling and said he created the goat skull as he found the goat “an animal of many conflicting symbolic interpretations.”
Garrett cites diverse artistic influences, and notes that he has not quite defined his artistic aesthetic.
“It’s a confluence of styles that interests me most,” he explained. “The skull for example was an attempt to combine Art Nouveau and classical British gun engraving. If there is a common inspiration for me it would be a sense of technical competency.”
While he doesn’t feel he’s nailed down his own particular style yet, Garret has surely found a medium in which he is remarkably adept. A previous 3D design and printing project, a holder for a Wacom pen that looks like a cross between a slug and a Cyclops, is eerily realistic, yet he seemed to feel it fell short of some personal expectations or, at least, was not quick to reveal to him a style that he could call his own.
I think the penholder is fantastic, as is the Goat Skull. Garrett’s style, a breathtaking level of realism with subject matter that issues from a realm of pure fantasy — and dark fantasy, at that — is reminiscent of some of the more unsettling or at least uncanny Surrealist art by artists like Tanguy, Ernst, and Dalí.
When he got down to the business of designing the Goat Skull, Garrett created his initial, “crude poly-box model” in 3DS Max. He then moved back and forth between ZBrush and 3DS Max.
He discussed the benefits of both programs and said, “Generally, I find 3DS Max’s viewport and manipulation controls far superior to ZBrush Transpose tools. Most importantly,” he added, “I focus on building at the imposed material tolerances and set up selection sets for easier clean-up as the faces increase with each subdivision.”
Garrett uses the high-tech tools at his disposal to design his works and then, with the Goat Skull, turned to i.materialise for the perfect material for his creation: Prime Gray. Prime Gray, a thermoplastic, has a much smoother surface than other 3D printing materials. As Garrett planned to hand paint the 3D printed object, the Prime Gray provided an excellent surface for further creativity.
The end result of Garrett’s dual-design feat is the Goat Skull, which seems like something straight out of “Pan’s Labyrinth” or “Game of Thrones” or some artifact of an ancient pagan world. The detail is impressive. I definitely think Garrett is onto something and hope to see more of his 3D printed art.
What do you think of Garrett’s works and his developing design aesthetic? Let us know your thoughts in the 3D Printed Fantasy Art forum thread over at 3DPB.com.