Rhino and 3D Digital Modelling

Oh rhino, our relationship is a fickle one, at first I ignored you, and then I approached, you were cruel at first but we grew on each other, you let me draw simple shapes and our relationship was easy, then I had bigger ideas and you started to give me trouble, I think we may have to break up after this project if you don’t change.

Rhino strikes this balance of being intuitive and just plain frustrating, it is simply impossible to use if you don’t have access to a catalogue of commands. I appreciate its a very complex programme that requires much practice, I am still learning. as a cad programme tacking basic structures and shapes its great, I would never expect to model anything to complex like a human body or whatever on it. To be honest, through use of Zbrush, rhino and other 3d modellers, I’ve learned each has there strength and weaknesses and crossing through platforms was almost essential for me to achieve my medal at my current skill level. You cant really cheat your way through the design of a cohesive 3d model everything needs to match up and be scaled correctly or the 3d printer just denies its existence. As I’m a complete beginner at rhino I started off by not using rhino,I drew my 3d drawing in Adobe illustrator, and encountered many problems. getting the 2d drawing in rhino was as easy as importing it. The challenge came when each pen line in my drawing registered in rhino as a separate unjoined line, and so if the lines were unjoined they could not be capped, so as a result I had to manually go through the image and connect each line.Screen Shot 2013-12-06 at 21.17.06 Though tedious it did work.

Screen Shot 2013-12-08 at 01.33.14

With the figure closed, it capped and extruded with no problems, I’ve also added the medals body to the figure.

What I decided to do was because extruding objects was rather basic and was manageable for me I would make that the basis of my design and would utilise that technique of extrusion to its fullest. So every shape, conformed to this principal, and I started to draw in further shapes. I counted how many steps there were on the heroes journey chart and I designated a slab to each key step, I then looked at placing that around the the medals inner ring. Image001 A brief sketch I did with a Wacom tablet on photoshop with an screen shot.             Each shape is formed from drawing a circle from the centre and joining the lines, this simple premise worked very well for my design. I also altered the heights of each slab to give the idea of stairs, this represents the ordeal of the heroes journey  so  as you would reach the central ordeal of the journey thats the tallest step as its the most crucial and hardest step.

Each shape is formed from drawing a circle from the centre and joining the lines, this simple premise worked very well for my design. I also altered the heights of each slab to give the idea of stairs, this represents the ordeal of the heroes journey so as one would reach the central ordeal of the journey that is represented by the tallest step as its the most crucial and hardest step. I 3d printed this model, with moderate success. it didn’t form perfectly, however I got a read on size of the medal (waaay to big) and how these slabs formed . I had a good idea of what needed to change from this prototype.

It didn't print correctly but was still useful

It didn’t print correctly but was still useful

Firstly the thing was just a behemoth, I don’t know why I thought 100mm would work but it didn’t. Next the slabs, I needed to marry the heights a bit more consistently, and the fact that the figure didn’t form correctly must mean there was a glitch in the GCode or the model wasn’t properly closed.

So taking it back into rhino I began correcting the sizes, I thought about using acrylic fro these slabs so baring in mind the size of the acrylic (5mm) I used that to deduce that each step needed to be 1mm apart in height to get a full variance in height.  

Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 20.37.34

Where I went next was to try and remove the slabs and extrude the shapes down to create  these spacings for the acrylic.

front profile

I discovered the render plugin for rhino.

Getting all of these dimensions in order and the front of the design complete. I was free to start coming up with the back of the medal.

Where I started when coming up with ideas was thinking about the heroes journey and remembering that the 2 half’s of the journey were the known world and the unknown world. This reflection of half’s could fit the premise of my medal well.

Im still currently reading the hero with a thousand faces book by Joseph Campbell, there are lots of amazing analogies and sayings in the book but one quote stood out for me the most.

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”

― Joseph Campbell

Thinking about that cave and how the medal utilises this negative space, and how you can see yourself and the rest of the world through it, I thought that maybe I could create the caves entrance on the rim of the medal on the other side.

I already had an idea of what I wanted it to look like so I did a little research for a reference point, and I found these amazing sculptures by Arran Gregory. These geometric shapes speak of the modern techniques I’m employing to create the medal and the jagged edge of the cave.

I did some drawing

back medal concept 2

My rough concept highlights this geometric edging, how I was going to achieve this was virtually a mystery to me.

So I went on a rhino support forum and asked.

The forum was a great help and i got some great suggestions, I really felt like my query was handled well and I was given a lot of patience being a newbie.

The result of my post on the forum yielded a great response. One response suggested I create shape and use that shape to overlap my medal and cut away the overlapped space.

So thats what I did.

And it worked!

And it worked!

After 7 hours of meticulous cutting I was left with the entrance to the cave. What this did however was leave an incredibly large amount of unclosed edges on my model. I don’t know how this happened and it was a simply breaking my computer to generate the code, I was very stuck on this problem for a few days. So I once again turned to the forum for help.

Let me preface I never expected more than advice, but someone was nice enough to take a look at my file and lend a hand, aesthetically it looks no different but he was nice enough to close up the edges as I didn’t understand. Not to mention I was on a deadline.

Closing up those edges took my file from a 350mb file to a 17mb file. Generating the code on MakerWare was working now.

This was the result after rendering.

This was the result after rendering.

Now I have a problem yes my model is printable and refined. Is it my final medal? nope. My final medal design was to use acrylic for the slabs instead of whats already there. So I needed to add this same edging to my other model with the slabs extruded down into the meal to create the spaces for the acrylic.

This was a genuine issue, as I didn’t want to post a secondary problem on the forum and I also didn’t want someone else doing my work. So what I did was explode the extruded down medal removed the bottom base and then exploded the refined medal, took the edging from the base copied and pasted it over then snapped everything together. It worked like a charm!

Rhino really displaying its versatility to me.

Rhino really displaying its versatility to me.

But I had more unclosed holes in my work. Damn!

At this stage, I’m there, I can walk away happy and i can print the thing and creases can be ironed out later on.

No. Theres more.

Whilst researching for my drinking horn project I came across a designer maker named Jennifer Gray. Gray utilises a 3d and traditional approach to achieve her work and referred to one of her programmes as a modeller of “digital clay”. as hard as I searched I could not find a match to the programme she used, so I decided to email her. She was nice enough to respond.

Dear Claudio,
Apologies for my slow response.  I have only just returned to work today after the Festive holiday.
I use a combination of computer programs along with hand-making to produce my work.  The mixture of programs used vary with each piece.  I mainly use Rhino, Magics, Solid Works and digital sculpting through Pixologic.
I hope this helps.
All the best for your studies,
Jennifer Gray MA RCA
Designer Maker
Merely having a response from Jennifer made me feel very good. It made me want to try even more. So I started to model in Zbrush.
Zbrush talks to models in a very different way to rhino and is much more forgiving.
I utilised one of the default tools and just played, I produced this geometric face that I liked, and I produced it with ease as well.
Medal clay
So all this 3D modelling has taught me a great deal, and is definitely going to be the way forward for my future practice. I need to challenge myself with more complex projects to utilise more of the tools in the programmes.

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