3D Printed Sculpting. Source: Radu Bercan/Shutterstock.com
3D Printed Sculpting. Source: Radu Bercan/Shutterstock.com

To sculpt, an artist chooses an art medium such as wood, paper, plaster or clay and then uses special techniques such as carving, molding, casting or even additive work to create a work of art. This form of creativity has now been unleashed on the iOS world in the form of 123D Sculpt by AutoCAD.  

The app 123D Sculpt first hit Apple’s iTunes store in October 2011. The free version of this iPad app provides an extensive library of shapes in three categories. With a push, pull and a little virtual paint, users of all ages can take a virtual block of clay and manipulate it into any desired figure. Also, through in-app purchases, over a dozen other libraries may be added. These include but are not limited to athletics, human heads, more creatures and transportation.

It is very simple to begin creating with 123D Sculpt. First the artist will choose a figure from one of the three default form libraries, creatures, geometry or objects. The form is then taken to a virtual workspace where it can be manipulated with the following brushes:

Pull – create raised areas to exaggerate details

Wax – create flat surfaces on the sculpture

Push – carve a groove into the sculpture

Smooth – soften hard edges and correct small mistakes

Sharpen Edge – create sharp ridges

Flatten - press an area into a flat surface

Bulge – inflate and expand existing features

Grab – stretch part of the sculpture into different positions

Paint – shade, tint or change the hue with the color corrector

Image Rub – add realistic details by rubbing details from a photo

The sculpture can then be taken to the camera room where the options of taking a snapshot, creating a turntable video or making a transparent PNG file to take to programs such as Photoshop are available. The sculpture can also be saved to the gallery or exported to the photo library. Other options are to send it to iMovie, iTunes file library, YouTube, email or the online gallery where it can be shared with others in the 123D community. 

Once the sculpture has been saved to the online gallery, there are the options to Fabricate, Edit in 3D Make, Save and/or Download. Included in Fabricate are the options to 3D print at home, send to CNC Utility, order a 3D hologram or order a 3D print

As stated previously, 123D Sculpt is very easy to use.  However, if any confusion should arise, excellent in-app tutorials are available. The tutorials offered are: Getting Started, Brushes, and the Toolbar. Also, once an online account is created at 123DApp.com, a forum is available where questions can be asked and concerns are addressed. 

123D Sculpt is an excellent application.  It is simple enough for a child to use and carries enough weight that a seasoned artist will enjoy the time interacting with the tools that are available.  This app is definitely the one to use for a virtual sculpting experience.