Maker Jim: His Head

I'd like to live forever - or at least longer than I'm sure I will. The Buddha said, "the trouble is, you think you have time." I apparently had enough time to make my own image. (I admit I thought I was special until the Wired article on 3d printing said, "one you've made an iPhone case and a bust yoda, what's next? Apparently everyone makes a copy of their own head."

Iteration 1: Get Your Head into the Computer!

AutoDesk provides some spectacular free software called 123d Catch. 

The subject remains perfectly still while someone walks around taking a lot of photos. Then the software churns on it all and creates a 3d model in the computer.

This is another attempt done in the carport. In this photo I had it display the computed camera positions. Sometimes it gets them wrong and looking at this display you can move them a bit.

I fooled with this software for a long time and still had problems getting it right; note the flat part of my head.

Still, it's free and it did the job in the end. My suggestion is to use lots of light and take a LOT of overlapping photos. 

Iteration 2: Cut From Whole Cloth ... errr .... Mat Board


How about bigger and cheaper? I used a free plug-in script for SketchUp and produced a number of sections (splines) from my head mesh.

Here I've laid them out. Each has a number so I'll know how to order them. I also have a "pacman" hole in each that I can use to align them all.

The pieces are all stacked on top of each other now. I didn't quite estimate the thickness of the mat board correctly so my head is a bit squished. Some say it's an improvement.


Here I am on the mantle. Just need a couple of candles to make a shrine.

Iteration 3: Hold My Head In My Hand


I sent the 3d model to Shapeways via the internet. Wasn't sure what to expect. I came back better than I would have ever thought. That's me!

Only $25. How cool is that?

Iteration 4: Bigger Is Better


V-Carve set up the tool paths and here the ShopBot is doing the rough cut. I didn't really have enough depth clearance and you can see where the spindle rubbed the model along the bottom and right.

Here's the final cut, shown with the live version.

Live version is on the right.

Trimmed up with a bandsaw the final piece looks great.

"Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man"