3D printed The Little Mermaid figurine. Source: WhiteClouds
3D printed The Little Mermaid figurine. Source: WhiteClouds


The Little Mermaid is a classic fairy tale first written by Hans Christian Anderson in 1837. The story of The Little Mermaid has been retold in films and musical theaters, the most famous version created by Disney in 1989.

In the original tale written by Anderson, the Little Mermaid swims to the surface to see the world above on her fifteenth birthday. She sees a ship and falls in love with the handsome prince aboard. A storm comes along, and the prince nearly drowns, but the mermaid saves him. She leaves him at a temple in the care of a young girl, and then visits the Sea Witch in order to gain legs in exchange for her voice.

The Sea Witch agrees to give her a potion and the Little Mermaid drinks it. The deal, however, is painful. Once having gained legs, she can dance like no other, but she feels as if she is walking on sharp knives. The Witch warns that if the prince does not marry her by morning, she will disintegrate into sea foam. The little mermaid goes to meet the prince.

The prince is enchanted with her beauty and graceful dancing. However, he chooses to marry the princess he was destined to, thinking that the girl in the temple had been the one to save him from drowning, instead of the Little Mermaid.

The Little Mermaid is devastated thinking about what she has given up and lost for him. But her sisters come to tell her that there is a way to return to being a mermaid. She must slay the prince with a knife the Sea Witch has given her and let his blood drip on her feet.

She cannot bring herself to do the deed, and throws herself into the sea. But instead of dissolving, she turns into a daughter of the air, and earns the chance to receive an immortal soul by doing good deeds.

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Model Specs

Designer: Kyle Gifford

Number of Layers: 1258

Layer Resolution: 89 Microns (Slightly thinner than a human hair.)

Build time: 6 hours, 59 minutes

Dimensions: 5 x 5 x 5.2”

Printer: ProJet 660Pro

Software: Maya and Photoshop

Fun Character Facts:

  • One of the earliest animated films of The Little Mermaid was the Soviet Union’s 29-minute movie.
  • Disney has released three movies related to the story: The Little Mermaid, The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea and The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginnings, a prequel that explains the absence of her mother.
  • The statue of the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen harbor is a major tourist attraction.

Designer Note:

Gifford states, “The Little Mermaid piece was a little harder to design than the other characters, simply because she had to be in a pose that showed her entire body. She was given a very exotic, almost Caribbean look. The hardest part was mapping out the scales so that they had a natural distortion to them as they continued down the tail.”

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