3D Modelling software?

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Zelandeth
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3D Modelling software?

Post by Zelandeth » Tue Apr 12, 2016 10:10 pm

Okay, this is something that has been driving me around the bend for months now, and I know that we have quite a number of highly tech-savvy folks on here so though it was worth an ask.

I am looking for a software package that will allow me to (preferably freehand) sculpt a 3D object, define the necessary parameters and then spit out a .STL (Standard Triangulation Language) file that I can then use to get said object 3D printed.

The best known couple of programs that I'm aware of that do this are Blender and Sculptris (and obviously its big $795 brother, zBrush).

I have tried to persevere with Blender, yet after a couple of months have only succeeded in ascertaining that it is the most aggressively user-unfriendly piece of software I have ever used (Windows 8 possibly excepted). I'm sure that once you learn to drive it that it's great - but it really makes no allowances for newbies and I'm really struggling to get anywhere with it.

Sculptris I have used before so I reckon I should actually be able to model it in that (I originally expected that to be the hard part!). However the old version I have on my XP drive is old enough that it doesn't have the STL export functionality, so I needed a newer version. ...which I cannot get to run on any of my machines for reasons I cannot figure out. Which is particularly annoying as I installed Windows 7 entirely for the purpose of running that...have tried three different physical machines and even VirtualBox on my desktop. In all cases I just get the Windows "This program has encountered an error and needs to close..." box appearing as soon as I try to start it. This happens irrespective of any compatibility settings, running as administrator etc.

Any suggestions for other software to give a try before I...

A: Tear my hair out.
B: Drop kick the PC out my bedroom window. Or...
C: Admit defeat and just commission someone to design the blasted thing for me. Which brings its own set of challenges given that I'm dealing with something that currently exists entirely in my own head.

I was expecting a huge number of challenges along the road with this project - this wasn't one I expected though, and the 3D printing part was originally intended to *save* time...whereas I reckon I could probably have finished this using old school methods by now (non withstanding the fact that I'd never get it right first time of course and would probably be on version 1.7 or so by now - which is also why I like the 3D printing route as I know then that the model is right before anything actually gets touched in the real world. Saves time, frayed nerves and material wastage. In theory anyway.

So, any of you tech savvy bunch got any ideas? I have briefly consulted Google on a few occasions, but as usually seems to be the case with any software related question I seemed to find a huge amount of conflicting opinions that just ended up making my head spin.

PS. Bonus if you can find a solution that runs under Linux, double bonus if if can be obtained in a .deb package or via a PPA as Mint is my native environment. I have available though Windows 2000, XP (32 and 64-bit versions) and 7 64-bit as well though if needed. ...even though I might need to find a network card for the Win2K machine if I need that one...we do have a PC in the house running Windows 10 as well, though that's not mine so access is more limited.

Edited to aid legibility...originally typed this up on my phone and it was a mess!
LOZ: Oddball cars, lighting information, and anything else I remember to upload!
Current fleet: 96 Citroen Xantia Activa, 90 Mercedes 208D Autotrail Navajo, 85 Jaguar XJ-S V12 HE, 85 Sinclair C5, 73 AC Model-70.

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Re: 3D Modelling software?

Post by Zelandeth » Sat Apr 16, 2016 11:19 pm

Thanks for that.

I've dabbled a bit with 3D modelling in the past purely out of curiousity, but never really with an end in mind. I think the biggest issue with Blender is that it has a rather unique UI and workflow methodology from what I read a while back. I only really need to use a fraction of the features in there, but one of the problems I've had has been finding a how-to which doesn't assume that you want to learn how *everything* works.

I've been trying to stick with Sculptris (given that's the one I played around with a while ago), but nothing I've been able to do has been able to get the current version to run on any of my PCs - though I'm starting to wonder now if that's purely an issue with my specific Windows 7 installation media given that I've had it on three Win7 installs and had it throw up exactly the same fault...Though reading the specs on their website says that it's compatible with XP as well...which I am certain wasn't the case before and now I find myself wondering if I am crossing wires in my head with the specs required for SketchUp (which as of an hour long fist-fight with Windows I finally got up and running this evening) which definitely needs 7 or later...Will give it a shot under XP tomorrow, and if it works see what formats it can export in. I know the old version I used to use only allowed you to save in its own proprietary format, though that was a good few years ago so other software may well be able to open that now...

You're right that this is a rather more creative than engineering orientated project (hey, context - would probably have helped if I included that at the start), being the basic framework/structure for a costume head. I've figured that 3D printing it offers a significant number of advantages over many of the traditional approaches without any real drawbacks - the obvious exception being that I need to actually make the model in the first place. Once that's done though it's done - I should pretty much know it's right before any material in the real world has been touched. Should save me a good bit both in time and on resources (even though being fair, the structural construction materials for this part are pretty immaterial in the grand scheme of things as there are far more expensive building blocks to be dealt with yet).

I've got a near vertical and likely quite expensive learning curve ahead of me here and am fully aware of the world of pain I'm letting myself for. This is something that can potentially save me quite a bit of time (because I'm having to learn one new skill rather than three or four), and given that I'm effectively working against the clock, I'll take that potential saving.

The alternative "traditional" approach for the sort of style I'm aiming for here is to use a resin cast base. To create that you need to first create a positive sculpt of your object (clay being a normal material) - never done that before, then use that to create a silicone mould (never worked with silicone before), then get the mix right of your resin (which I've never used before), and slosh that around just so in your mould so you get a uniformly thick result. The potential for messy (though probably hilarious for onlookers) failure at many stages here just sounds epic...One evening a few months ago though I just randomly asked myself "Is there any reason that I *shouldn't* 3D print the thing instead?" and after a good deal of thought and research came to the conclusion that the answer was "not really" so here I am.

What I had not anticipated was the software turning out to be such a pain in the backside! Expecting everything else to put up a massive fight, but that one caught me by surprise.

...Sorry that turned into a bit of a text wall...that seems to happen a lot in my posts.
LOZ: Oddball cars, lighting information, and anything else I remember to upload!
Current fleet: 96 Citroen Xantia Activa, 90 Mercedes 208D Autotrail Navajo, 85 Jaguar XJ-S V12 HE, 85 Sinclair C5, 73 AC Model-70.

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