Mar - 2015

Turning 3D Prints into Art

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James Alday Turns 3D Prints into Art

James Alday
[/one_fourth][three_fourth_last] A year ago, James Alday jumped into 3D printing with both feet and a lot of imagination. The father of two girls with a steady day job, James has always had an interest in new technologies. Working on large-scale interior design project showed James the nearly unlimited potential for 3D printing. He beefed up his software and programming skills, bought a printer and launched ImmersedN3D, LLC. He credits the open source community for helping him hone his skills for success. He has worked with companies such as Autodesk and Fusion360, even showing off some of his designs at AU2014 in Las Vegas. He has created unique sculptures of fable creatures, movie icons, phone cases, vases and art which he hand paints. [/three_fourth_last] James has also experimented with finishing techniques, and now these techniques are the hallmark of his work. He’s found that ABS is easily sandable but more difficult to get quality prints. PLA is easy to print with but more difficult to sand and finish. He uses a lot of sandpaper, a dremel with a variety of sanding bits, a ton of Rustoleum primer and filler spray available at local hardware stores, 2-part epoxy, acrylic glue for PLA, and acetone for ABS. His favorite discovery is Epoxi Sculpt. Epoxi Sculpt is a two-part sculpting clay that hardens quickly without losing its shape. It’s also very easy to sand and paint. This allows a lot of freedom to repair damaged print areas or blend in glued seams For painting he uses basic squeeze-tube water-based acrylic paint. He’s experimented with airbrushing with excellent results. And he’s enjoyed working with aging gels and weathering to give prints more texture and depth. It doesn’t hurt that one of his mentors is Mark Leonard (Kreashunz) who works for Aztec Scenic Design. Mark taught him about metallic finishes such as gold, silver and bronze to give a finished piece a luxurious look.

Here are a few examples of his work, from beginning to finish:

Small Dragon Print

New Year’s project

Full scale Skyrim bow

Here’s a time-lapse videos that shows the process:


James has a few tips for those interested in painting 3D models:

    • Don’t be afraid to use a lot of primer! Primer works great to hide a lot of layers. After priming, use rough sandpaper to give the print a rough sand. Then prime it again. If you like you can sand it again with some fine grit paper.
    • Be patient! Let each coat of paint dry. James admits to being a very impatient painter and it ends up creating a lot of extra work for him. Maybe tackle two projects at a time so you give one time to fully dry.
    • Airbrushing is a lot of fun; try it. Just be sure to practice on some spare papers or surfaces until you are comfortable painting the model. Don’t be afraid if you mess up. You can always start over with a fresh new base coat.
    • Try to avoid solid colors. James used to focus on solid colors but soon noticed that people were more interested in his work if when he added depth and character to the finishing with shading or aging.
    • Just have fun. Don’t be afraid to try a new technique. James watched a ton of videos on YouTube and asked a lot of questions. He has found so many talented people out there willing to share their technique.

Recent designs by ImmersedN3D:

To see more of James’ work follow @ImmersedN3D on InstaGram or visit his website ImmersedN3D.com

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