AMS Spring 2023

Frogs! 3D Printed Hyper-Realistic, Life-Sized Frogs Hit Kickstarter and They’re Amazing

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Artist: Lian Lian

Artist: Lian Lian

We’ve seen some incredibly intricate and life-like models 3D printed over the last couple of years, from scaled models of vehicles to highly detailed models of homes to just about everything else imaginable under the sun. 3D printing affords artists a new tool to fabricate based on computer design. Although FDM/FFF printers may not be ideal for the finer detailed project, the slightly more expensive stereolithography (SLA) process seems to be perfect. Utilizing lasers or projectors to cure a photosensitive resin layer-by-layer allows for incredibly detailed prints with accuracies measurable in the nanometers.

Two artists, Xinhai Zhao and Lian Lian, founders of the X-L Studio in New York City, have taken 3D printing of life-like objects to the next level with their latest planned exhibition titled ‘Frogs!’ And they have turned to Kickstarter in order to raise the necessary funding to do so.

Lian and Zhoa have both received much acclaim due to their past pieces, including Lian’s ‘Get Under Your Skin,’ shown in an exhibition in New York titled ‘Where is the Art in Bio Art?’ The two now have set out on a new project–and by its name, ‘Frogs!’ you likely have already guessed what the main subject matter will be.

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“Our love for animals inspired us to create an ongoing project encompassing several parts of the animal kingdom,” explained the pair on their Kickstarter page. “With 9 million species on the planet, we had a lot to choose from. Our first species was inspired by a haiku:
‘Breaking the silence of an ancient pond, a frog jumped into water – a deep resonance.’ – The Old Pond, Matsuo Basho (translated by Nobuyuki Yuasa).”

The two have decided to commence the project with five main species of frogs in mind, which include the Wood Frog, Red Eye Tree Frog, Malaysia Horned Frog, Pacman Frog, and White’s Tree Frog. They then look to expand the project to five additional species should they reach various stretch goals within their crowdfunding campaign.

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These won’t just be any frog models. Lian and Zhao are looking towards SLA 3D printing to fabricate hyperrealistic, life-size frogs. To do this they are modeling the frogs using ZBrush prior to sending those models off to a Form 1+ 3D printer from Formlabs. Once printed and the supports have been removed, the two artists then use the prints for casting. Because of the flimsiness of the cured resin, casting is necessary in order to produce stronger end products. They use a LEGO-casting technique (yeah, they actually use LEGOs) and Smooth-on liquid plastic to create the final products before then using their incredible talents to airbrush each model in intricate detail.

The pair are looking to raise a total of $1,000 in order to get their first 5 species complete, and will have until September 4 to do so. Once this goal is reached they will then set their sights on stretch goals for additional models.

3D printing has allowed these two artists to excel at what they do best. If not for 3D printing they’d likely be stuck hand carving each model out of clay or other materials, leaving each model much less precise and anatomically correct.

Let us know if you’ve decided to back this project and your thoughts on their work. Discuss in the 3D Printed Frogs! forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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