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3D Printed Figure - A Dilemma ... of sorts (Part 1)

Updated: Jan 21

I think I do well enough in 3d printing using Sketchup as my CAD program for “things’ … mechanical shapes … but … not so much with figures. I have been interested for quite some time in figuring out how to create my own posed figures and it has been a struggle for me.


I looked at Poser and Daz 3D but I realized that the cost of either the software or the “add on's” quickly exceeded my relatively small forecast usage/need. Later on, I came upon MakeHuman and discovered that you could pose the generated figures in Blender.


I realized that the poly count of the figures exported from MakeHuman were for me too low. The software is used (mostly) to generate figures for videos where the lower poly count is a plus. This is where "reading the manual" would have helped as there is a "smoothing" icon at the top.


I also had some problems with the rig after importing into Blender – not so much with the rig but my ability to use that rig correctly. That was on me and not the software so much.


Here I created a figure in MakeHuman (call him Alfred). Looks good enough there. Exporting the STL I opened that in MeshLab and still looks good ... but that is a bit of a 'cheat'. Opening the STL in MeshMixer shows the low polygon count .. that would surely show up in an O scale 3d print. This was before I 'found' the smoothing icon.




Alfred exported normally

Here is Alfred viewing his head and shoulders exported to a STL file in 'normal' export ... meaning without clicking the smooth button.


The very blocky polygons are useful to those wanting to use the figure in a video as they overlay the figure with a bump map that fools the eye ... think of an image that is projected on a surface .. the detail is in the projected image and not the surface it is projected onto .. like say a flat wall.

I spent quite a bit of time trying to increase the polygon count using MeshLab and MeshMixer. Once again .. this is where "read the manual" would have been a boon.


Alfred exported with smooth button selected

The same figure but having selected the 'Smooth' button/icon.


Holy Smokes. This is what I wanted and what I spent so much time trying to create ... and I only needed to click one icon


At this point there are still problems with printing the STL exported from MakeHuman is all the shells. The body, clothing, multiple eye parts, teeth and tongue, hair and who knows what all are shells. I think I can exclude teeth and tongue .. but all the rest is potentially an issue.

At this point you can see a gap - highlighted in blue ... where the gap between his chest and shirt is obvious.


The next step is to close the gaps .. in MeshMixer I selected Make Solid, solid type Accurate and moved the sliders for Solid Accuracy and Mesh Density all the way to the right.


This worked ... but created openings in the shell at the crease below his nose.



I entered 0.01 mm for an Offset Distance. This filled in the openings. I then used Inspector and fixed everything except the eyes .. "fixing" the eyes ended up completely removing them and leaving openings in the shell.




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