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London Artist Brings ‘The Little Prince’ to Life in 3D Print for the Visually Impaired

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myminifactory-3d-print-filesWhile as adults we graduate to books ‘without pictures,’ relying on our imaginations to illustrate what the fictional places and people might look like, humans as a rule are very visual creatures.

Have you ever noticed yourself reading a book and then going back again and again to study the illustrations or the picture on the cover as you wind your way through a delicious tale? The visuals for the story in our hand give our brains a guideline as we read — and give our imaginations a starting point.

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Eva Sbaraini

3D artist Eva Sbaraini, of London, is driven to give the visually impaired their own alternative visuals for integrating stories with their imaginations in her new project, beginning with her My Mini Factory collection of 3D models from the 1943 classic, The Little Prince. With an array of designs and 3D prints from the story, it’s just the beginning as a first in a series of books she plans to describe and bring to life in 3D print.

The French novella has been translated into more than 250 languages, and this is another — and extremely valuable — translation. And it is about offering a new language to the enormously popular story — the language of the tangible object, where every detail can be patiently explored and understood, bringing the story and the characters to life — delighting those who have had the opportunity to hold the 3D models.

Written by artist and adventurer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, who was not only an aristocrat but also a writer, poet, and pioneering aviator, The Little Prince holds a beautifully written tale full of poetic words, and also demonstrates the considerable artistic capabilities of Saint-Exupéry with illustrations in watercolor. It was truly meant to be an adult tale, regarding the Prince who falls to Earth from space, and is full of allegory and social statements, and has a deep philosophical bend to it.

mainWhile The Little Prince is no stranger to braille in format and translation, the 3D models offer the visually impaired the chance to feel the impressions of the story, from the Little Prince himself to actually illustrating an action from the story, such as that from the opening lines:

“Once when I was six years old I saw a magnificent picture in a book, called True Stories from Nature, about the primeval forest. It was a picture of a boa constrictor in the act of swallowing an animal. Here is a copy of the drawing.”

And from these words, Sbaraini made a striking 3D print of the boa about to the devour the poor little forest creature. We see snakes, sheep, an elephant, and more all depicted in 3D models, as poetic in their artistic nature as the novella itself.

“The initial concept behind transforming the illustations from 2D to 3D is to create resources to improve the experience of literature for the blind and partially sighted through rendering illustrations and graphics from well-known fiction into tactile objects and reliefs,” said Sbaraini on her My Mini Factory page.

With her My Mini Factory collection of 3D prints, the blind and visually impaired are able to ‘read’ and ‘see’ through a tactile world that takes them far into Saint-Exupéry’s fable.

And just as the adventurous Little Prince chose to set out from his tiny planet and explore the rest of the universe, Sbaraini explores the new world of 3D design and 3D printing, still greatly uncharted, in bringing the Little Prince to us in tactile form. With The Little Prince 3D models being a starter project, we look forward to seeing what comes next, and what Sbaraini plans to add to her My Mini Factory collection.

For items like the 3D printed models of animals, Sbaraini used print settings at 0.20mm layer height with 10% infill and no supports. Items like the 3D printed sheep took a little under five hours for 3D printing. All of the files are available for free downloading at My Mini Factory.

Do you know a blind or visually impaired person who would enjoy these 3D models? Are you planning to download any of the files from My Mini Factory? Tell us your thoughts in The Little Prince in 3D Print forum over at 3DPB.com. Check out the video describing the project, as well as more photos, below.

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