Saturday, August 20, 2016

Series: Colorizing 3D Prints #5 - Darker Skin Tones

While I do not believe that I have the proper colors to produce all the skin tones to match the facial characteristics of the cadets that I teach, I do have a wide enough range to at least experiment with slightly darker skin tones.  And that is a logical progression from lesson #4.

Here is the result using the pens available in the Spectrum Noir"Pale Hues" color pack.  The newly colored print is on the right.
Facial Tinting Compared
As you can see, using the exact same colors that were used for face #1, by changing the relative mix we can come up with a strikingly different and pleasant result.  It is also important to note that the face on the right was printed in M3D's ABS-R, not to be confused with regular ABS.  So, we now have at least two surfaces that take the Spectrum Noir markers used in the eBrush airbrush system!

As always, there were new lessons to be learned in the process of colorizing our 2nd face.

Mistakes Are Not Fatal

The first is one that we repeat over and over to our 3D printing students... "Your failures are not final!" 

While it can be difficult to simply touch up a piece if we spray too close or at too high an air pressure that causes blemishes, it is very easy to clean off the color for a fresh start.  To do this simply use a simple alcohol pad.  I ended up having to start over twice.  But, cleaning the piece was very quick and the paint process, itself, is relatively quick.  So, I didn't feel frustrated by the restart.  It was simply a second (and third) chance to do better, learning from the reasons behind the blemishes.

I don't know how long after the marker dye is applied that cleanup can be done so easily.  I suspect that the longer it stays on the 3D printed part, the more likely is dyes the piece.  But, if the alcohol pad is used right after the color application it is very easy to remove it and start over.

Some Masking Techniques Are Better Than Others

One of my goals in this step of the process of learning was to assess different methods of masking.  Three different techniques were used.
  • Liquid Masking
  • Frisket Film
  • Artist's Tape
Liquid Masking

The first product I tested is FineLine Masking Fluid Pen - Supernib Fine Tip.

FINELINE Masking Fluid

 It has a needle applicator and I used it to mask the hair, eyes and mouth while painting the face.  I worked quite well for those applications.  But, it takes quite a while to dry enough to be able to commence spraying.  Once the painting is done, it's very easy to remove.  I can see using it for masking very small depressed features; but, for most masking needs it isn't the best choice.

Frisket Film

I had high hopes for Frisket Film which is heavily used in the craft community for a wide variety of coloring techniques.  It's a very thin film with a light tack backing.

However, in practice, I found it less than impressive for this particular colorizing project.  The tacky back doesn't seem to stick as well to plastic as it does to paper.  And, while it should cut very easily and cleanly, that was not my experience thus time.  I may be that I need a new set of blades for my Exacto knife.  So, I'm not dismissing out of hand; but, the tape actually was a better choice this time around.

Artist Tape and/or Grafic Tape

This class of tape is available in a wide variety of colors and widths.  
Masking tape for artists start 1/8 wide abd can typically be found in widths between 1/4" to 1".  Chartpak's graphic tape is available in much thinner widths, such as 1/32".  Years ago eve art store carried these tapes; but, you may find that your local store doesn't carry the smaller widths.  However, they are available online.  For now, I have 1/8" and up.  But, I definitely want the smaller widths as well.

For me, the most reliable making technique continues to be artist tape.  While I have some blue masking tape in 1/8" and 1/4", I prefer tape specifically labeled "Artist Tape" or "Drafting Tape'.

I am thoroughly enjoying experimenting with the eBrush and especially enjoy using it with the Spectrum Noir markers.  While I certainly am still in the novice category, I am becoming more confident with each new experiment.  There is no question that the investment is worth the time and money that it takes to get started,  There is no comparison between a monochrome print and a colorized print when it comes to perceived value and aesthetics.  Even the slightest amount of coloring makes a difference.

My next project looks at creating custom designer buttons using M3D's ABS-R, the eBrush and Spectrum Noir markers.

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