Making of De Ruyter 3D print model

06 January 2018

The talented cartoonist and comic strip artist Pieter Hogenbirk is a good old friend of mine. One of his comic strip series is based on a famous Dutch historical figure: admiral Michiel De Ruyter (1607 - 1676).


To practice 3D sculpting with Pixologic ZBrush, I offered Pieter to create a 3D-printed bust of De Ruyter, so he could have a tangible version of his character on his desk. Pieter responded enthusiastically, so I rolled up my sleeves and started.

Usually, the first stage is gathering reference images. I collected some comic panels from De Ruyter for an impression of the characteristics. Then I started to build a very elementary model, consisting of basic 3D shapes.


During the second phase I combined the basic shapes into one 3D model using the Dynamesh tool in ZBrush, and added the head's major elements: eyes, hair and moustache. I also assigned some colors, to get rid of the red clay look, and make the character more lively.


After showing the first result to Pieter, he clarified that the apparent tuft on top of the character's hair is actually his hair parting. So I corrected that.

While refining the head, I decided to choose shades of gray in stead of cartoony colors, going for a classic stone-like look, as the final bust would be printed in a sandstone-ish material, and colors can sometimes distract from forms, especially when the colors are saturated.


Once the head was more or less finished, the chest was sculpted, cutting off angled regions in classic bust tradition.


During the last sculpting stage, clothing accessories and a classic-style pedestal were added.


After uploading the final, hollowed-out 3D model to my Shapeways 3D print store, I created an impression using the Keyshot renderer.


And here are two photographs of the final sandstone 3D print. Some of the definition was lost due to the limited resolution of the 3D printer.


In conclusion, I really enjoyed sculpting the figure. The biggest challenge was successfully translating the very stylized 2D drawings to 3D shapes while trying to keep the characteristics intact from every angle.

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