This instructable will take you through the basic steps to create a pair of large scale sculptures in corrugated white plastic from 3D data extracted from the Medal of Honor first person shooter game. The sculptures, shown completed here, are titled "Taliban Hands", as they are essentially recreations of the left and right hands of a pistol wielding "Opfor" fighter (a Taliban) extracted from MOH and made real.
Step 1: Supplies!
For this build you will need:
-matt knife and extra blades
-a self-healing cutting board
-blue painter's tape
-hot glue gun
-hot glue sticks
-bag balm (for the hot glue burns on your hands! ;-)
Step 2: Extracting and processing the data...
1) To extract the data necessary to create these sculptures I used the software 3D Ripper DX, available here: http://www.deep-shadows.com/hax/3DRipperDX.htm
There are other programs out there, this is the one I have used for this project! Relatively easy to use and it is free (although always good to make a donation!).
Follow the directions to use 3D Ripper DX and you should not have any problems - there are many forums and most, if any questions you have, are answered online if you look around a bit.
2) To process the data I started by trying to open the extracted map data in Blender, what I found was that the file was just to large either for Blender or for my system to handle (I work on a MacBook Pro running Bootcamp). Eventually, I downloaded a 30 day trial of 3D Studio Max which was able to handle the file. Fairly straight forward in the processing, essentially I selected the objects desired, then clicked select inverse, deleted all the other data, leaving me with a pair of hands and the pistol. You may be overwhelmed, btw, when you first open your extracted model as this will often be the entire map of the game space in question - finding what you want to use for your build is a matter of zooming in and moving around the map until you find what you are looking for. As I am at most a novice with 3D Studio Max and I am not an expert with 3D modelling software, this took a bit of getting familiar with the program - there are hundreds of useful tutorials online so just about anything you want to learn to do with the software you can figure out with some investigation, trial and error.
Very important: However you extract your data or process it be absolutely sure to lower your polygon count in the 3D software BEFORE you go into Pepakura. What I look for is a visual balance of keeping the basic integrity to the extracted objects while being aware that in building your object the higher the polycount the more difficult to impossible the object can be to build once you start working through Pepakura.
3) Working with Pepakura is relatively easy and fun! There are several other platforms out there to make essentially "papercraft" projects, you can use others - including 1-2-3D, etc. Pepakura essentially will take your 3D data saved as an "object" file and convert the file to a series of flattened diagrams for assembly using paper (be sure and export from your 3D software in "object" format!). I use the software to create .pdf files which I then printed out at large scale (all the while calculating proportionally so my final prints create the sculpture as the size desired). I used an Epson 9600 to print out the final diagrams on 44x90" pieces of paper.
Step 3: Cut out the diagrams...
The first image shows you the diagrams as printed out on large sheets of paper. The second image shows the diagrams after carefully cutting these out. Once these are cut out (I used a combination of scissors and matt knife), I was then ready to start using these as guides for cutting out the pieces of corrugated plastic.
Step 4: Cutting, scoring and numbering...
Basically, I lay the diagrams upon the pieces of corrugated plastic, using the blue painters tape to tape several edges of the diagram in place. I then start cutting. As I cut edges, I use other small pieces of tape to hold the diagram in place - these pieces need to be cut out perfectly or the resulting fit of the various pieces as you put together the final object will be off!
Once I have the overall shape of each piece cut out, I then carefully follow the dotted lines of the diagram to score where the polygons need to fold to create the physical form of the object. These will be either on the side where the diagram lays or on the reverse side according to the different dotted line pattern provided by the Pepakura diagrams! Be sure you understand which is which BEFORE you start cutting as these are crucial to the overall make up of the final object! I use blue tape to keep the diagram together where I cut the face of the paper to make the scores.
At this time I am also carefully writing the numbers from the diagrams directly upon the surface of the cut-out corrugated pieces (you want to be sure you are writing on what will be INSIDE the completed object otherwise you will have tiny numbers all over your piece!). These are crucial as they tell you were to glue the tabs to connect to the corresponding number on the other pieces.
Step 5: Assembling the hands!
This step is likely the most fun but also takes a high level of patience! Matching up the pieces to their corresponding number while also carefully working to follow the scoring as cut in the last step should be executed carefully and strategically. You want to be sure you are able to reach areas as you start to enclose the object - working at this scale one may need to get a bit acrobatic in reaching, gluing and holding pieces in place!
Start by simply matching numbers, gluing edges to matching tabs, and watch as your object begins to take shape! This is really similar to putting together a puzzle! Take your time, watch out for hot glue and be sure and double check your diagrams (keep these handy btw) to be sure you did not miss any scores or numbers along the way - any mistakes to your diagrams and/or cutting will make for some frustrating moments where things just won't fit until you get it right!). Just remember, the Pepakura diagrams are generally perfect - if something is not fitting, you are generally doing something incorrect!
Step 6: Finishing improvisation...
Once the hands were completed, as these came from extracted full body avatars in a computer game, the wrist areas were simply empty. To complete these I decided to use the scrap corrugated material to create a glued together spiral of strips of the material to create illusion that these hands were cut from some giant arm.
To do this, I first cut out dozens of 3/4" wide strips of corrugated plastic at various lengths, cutting across the corrugation if that makes any sense. These I basically rolled onto themselves, using hot glue along the entire length of each strip, rolling one onto the next to build a growing oval shape.
I built this up until if fit into the cavity of each wrist, then carefully used individual strips of the material to slowly fill in the gaps until the wrists areas were solid - I then glued these into place be and trimmed any overhanging plastic from the hands to create a perfect fit.
Step 7: Finished!
Once the pieces are completed, I gently wiped them clean with a wet rag to remove any dust or dirt. Here are some pictures of the pieces, "Taliban Hands" as on display last year at the Where Where Exhibition Space in Beijing China as part of the show "Screen Shot" in 2011. Feel free to send me any questions about the process of the build! Feel free to view this work and others on my website: http://www.delappe.net
Here is a video created documenting the exhibition: