3D printed colorful skull. Source: WhiteClouds
3D printed colorful skull. Source: WhiteClouds

One of our most fun items are 3D printed skulls that come in all colors. Several skull designs have been clacking around the internet, but what sets apart our designs is that we have full-color and patterned skulls. These skulls come in small, medium, and large. They make great decorative items for Halloween or for simply sprucing up your rockstar/Dracula castle.

Our in-house designer, Kelly Root, is scary-good at what he does. Here’s what he has to say about the spine-tingling skulls:

Tell us about the project you’re working on?

The point of this project was to create a variety of different textures and looks mapped onto a human skull.  The idea is to create interest; I don't know anyone who won't at least say that those look cool.  And then there are those people who collect things like this, there's always a huge popularity for skulls and the sort, either serious or not.

What inspires your designs?

The inspiration for my designs comes from a variety of things, life, paintings, pictures, and other artwork.  Just about anywhere I can see something that looks interesting and makes me wonder if I can replicate or duplicate that somehow in the work I'm doing.

How are these designs different from other products out there?

These designs are different in the fact that the finished product will be something you can pick up and hold in your hand.  Most times you see something like this it doesn't go beyond the screen or the paper.

How do you think your designs will help people or fill a need?

I don't believe this particular project will fill any needs necessarily, but I do believe it will provide interest into what we are doing and the work and services we can provide.

What software do you use to create the designs?

This was done entirely in Autodesk Maya.

What 3D printer are you using to print the final design?

All of these skulls are printed off of the Z Printer.

Tell us about your process from the start of a new design to finish.

The design process for these is fairly simple; the majority of the work is done in the program.  Ultimately it's up to me to decide on colors and patterns, then see how I can change the layout to leave the most interesting image.

What are your thoughts when you see your design 3D printed? Do you look for flaws and improve the design?

Of course, the first skull printed had issues that required I go back and fix to make sure there would be no problems whenever it was printed again.

What, if any post-production processes do you do?

After the model comes out of the printer we take the time to clear any leftover residue on the model.  Then very fine sandpaper can be taken to some areas to help bring out the color.  Finally some glue is applied to the model to seal and harden it, as well as really brighten the colors.

What is the most common problem you’ve encountered and how did you solve it?

The most common problem is issues with parts of the model simply being too small to print correctly.  Either it doesn't come out of the printer correct, or during post-processing smaller pieces can be broken off by accident.  The matter of fixing it just requires going back into Maya and increasing some areas in size if possible.

What is the most exciting thing about your work?

Holding the finished product in your hand.  I've worked with 3D objects for the last 10 years.  But never before this was I able to take the finished product from the screen to my hands.

Finally, what tips would you give to home users trying to design the same type of thing?

Take the time to decide what you’re going to do ahead of time instead of while you’re trying to do it.  Planning it out and having a clear picture in mind can increase both the speed at which you work and the overall quality of the final product.

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