Thursday, August 18, 2016

Series: Colorizing 3D Prints #3 - Creating Stencils

While waiting on the additional Spectrum Noir markers to arrive, I thought I would explore a slightly different aspect of 3D printing and colorizing... creating stencils that can used with the eBrush and other coloring techniques.

As a sample, I created a small template, using Moment of Inspiration, that features four bunnies.  It could not have been easier.  In fact, I find the line drawing tools, that I used to create the bunny cutouts to be far easier to learn to use than those in 2D applications like Inkscape.

3D Created Stencil Design
As printed, being a first test, it's rather small.  It's just 60mm x 60mm.  However, since 3D images are easily resized either in the design application or in the printer's software, it is readily scalable.  Once it's designed it can be printed up to the maximum size allowed by the 3D printer.

A feature of this stencil that isn't common to off the shelf stencils is the inclusion of handles on two corners to aid in placing and removing the stencil.

Since I simply laid the stencil on the test page and did not hold it down tightly, there is some slight softness on the sprayed result.  I used a TB8 blue Spectrum Noir pen with the lowest setting on the eBrush.  Here is the result.

Bunnies Created with 3D Printed Stencil
Obviously, I would have made sure that the overspray outside of the stencil was masked if I were doing this in for a finished project; but, since this is merely a test to show the concept, I simply laid the stencil on the paper and fired away with the eBrush.  Also, since the bunnies are relatively small, I didn't bother trying to feather the colors, etc.

I also printed the stencil with the ABS-R material in the printer at the time of printing.  And, I used the lowest resolution settings for the print job.  I think I would probably prefer to use a flexible material, like M3D's Tough 3D Ink and print it at a higher resolution with subsequent stencils.

Unique Capabilities of 3D Print Stencils

A Unique Feature of 3D Printed Stencils is that we can bridge gaps without obstructing the ability of the eBrush to reach every area.  Suppose, for instance that we wanted to create a companion stencil that permitted us to print a border around each bunny.  With a 3D printer, we can create bridges that hold a 'mask' that blocks the spray for the main bunny and keep that mask in place using 3D printed bridges in the form of arches that provide enough room underneath to allow the spray to fill the new stencil gaps.  In this case, it's probably best to use a hard ABS-R or PLA material to create the mask.

Border Stencil with 3D Printed Connectors

In this case, we could lay this second stencil right back on top of the position of the first stencil and use it to spray a black border around each bunny!

While a border is the simplest application of this capability it goes well beyond that.  As we move forward with colorizing 3D images, we'll see that we can create 3D contoured masks that wrap around our 3D printed objects.  I can envision an unlimited number of masking techniques that are made possible by 3D printing... especially when using flexible materials as the mask!

The more I ponder the merger of the craft arts with the 3D printed arts, the more excited I become about the benefits to both!

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