5 Ways Artists Use 3D Printing

Artists Use 3D Printing
3D Native Tribal Skull by Kniel Nangit

Both commercial and fine artists are always exploring new mediums. Their reaction to 3D printing has been predictable. They are excited to experience and experiment with this relatively new medium.

3D printing is a remarkable way for today’s artists to create outstanding pieces of art that not only reflect the message they want to send but also make their art more accessible to art lovers. 

The different ways they’ve used 3D printing in their artwork may seem highly technical, but anybody can create their own artwork with a minimal amount of time spent in training. 

Here are 5 ways today’s artists are using 3D printing. Explore the links and our site. You might find yourself getting inspired!

3D Sculpture Brought To A New Level 

Sculptures have always been 3D. However, it takes years to learn the skills necessary to create these works of art. 3D printing technology allows artists to use their sketches or photographs to create amazing works of sculpture straight from a computer. 

In the past, an artist would sketch their ideas for sculpture and develop the object from the drawing. If the artist discovered a problem in the picture, they would solve it before beginning the sculpture. Then, if their solution was wrong, they might have to address it again as they transformed the drawing into a statue.

A significant benefit of 3D printing is that artists can solve all of their design problems as they enter the information from their images into the computer. Once they have created in a design program, they can send it to the 3D printer, and it will print out the object without having to solve the problem again. 

Additionally, many artists are working in small studios or spaces. They can’t afford to store all of the materials necessary for traditional sculpting. 3D printers and supplies require minimal space. 

If you want to see some of the 3D sculpture in the world, take a look at this page or head over to this Pinterest page

One Step Beyond Photography

Take a look at this video. This procedure uses 3D printing to create photographs that rise from the picture plane. 3D printing raises the images off the surface of the picture, and this gives texture and a sense of real depth to the photo. 

While this may seem limited to family and personal photographs, imagine the possibilities with artistic photography. A beautiful picture of the sea coast could be 3D printed. The waves would pop from the image, as would birds and people. 

Or you could create your own coastal scene by using a design program to create an image from a mixture of other photos. Your naturalistic scene could be turned into an original abstract picture. 

3D Printing and Realistic Visualizations

Many artists create working models or sketches of their artwork before they build the final piece. 3D printing allows them to see how their artwork is going to look before they begin the work on the final piece. 

As mentioned before, 3D printing allows artists to solve problems. However, in this context, it also lets them see how the piece looks before work begins. It enables them to make any aesthetic changes prior to production. 

All artists are trying to say something with their art, whether it’s a political statement or developing a scene, they have a message they are trying to convey. By using 3D printing, they can make sure their message is going to come across precisely as they want. 

Commercial artists often are called on to create 3D art for film production. Again, 3D printing allows them to create the artwork, even if it calls for hyper-realistic images of specific actors, locations, or props. If they need to make corrections, it can be done in the design phase on the computer. 

Art Reproductions, See What The Old Artist Saw

Reproductions of world-class and famous paintings are the norm in the commercial art world. However, what if you could see a favorite picture in 3D? You could experience the depth, perspective, and values of the painting or drawing as the artist saw them. 

When viewing a reproduction of a painting, you’ll notice they all appear to look the same. This is because most reproductions are nothing more than a digital copy of a picture.  

However, with 3D printing, you can reproduce the painting complete with brush strokes and the texture of the paint on the canvas. You’re able to see how much paint or color the artist used for the different parts of the painting. 

This does not only make an excellent reproduction, but it’s also instructive for teaching people about art history and techniques.

Bringing Cartoon Characters Off The Page and Into People’s Hands

People love cartoon characters. When a cartoonist creates a character that resonates with people, the market demands a 3D model of the character. 

In the past, the artist authorized a company to make a stuffed animal or plastic figurine. It also meant the character had to be popular enough to justify the production and marketing costs. 

With today’s 3D printing technology, cartoonists with lesser known characters or in niche markets can also create 3D reproductions of their characters. 

These figurines are not only good for sales, but they also raise brand awareness and increase the market for the cartoon — plus the artist doesn’t have to wait for production runs. They can instantly create a figurine for a fan while they are at a comic-con or other public event. 

How 3D Printing Democratizes Art

The cost of a quality art education and art supplies is expensive and continues to rise. 3D printing is one way many artists can use new technology to communicate their message uniquely and economically.

For example, here are three programs, free to use, that many artists find helpful:

  • Blender. This is a design application many artists use to create 3D visualizations of their design for their final piece of artwork. It’s free and open-source.
  • MatterControl 2.0. This is a free and open source 3D printing application. It allows you to do everything from designing your object to finalizing it for printing.
  • Slic3r. Slic3r translates your 3D model into a 3D printing. This is another open-source application.

In addition to those sites, you also have us here at 3D Universe. We have links to some of the best authoritative sites and instructional information about 3D printing.

As with any art tool, you are only limited by your imagination and ingenuity. 3D printing is now within the technological and financial grasp of many people, and new tools are being developed every year.

If you’re looking to enter an emerging art medium, please take a look around our site. When you’re ready to jump in, head over to our shop. We stock everything you need to explore your creative side.

Image attribution: Kniel Nangit [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

More 3D Universe blog posts:

Learn how to get started with 3D printing HERE.

Check out our post about the Ultimaker S5 HERE.

Learn about the Ultimaker 3 and 3 Extended HERE.