Project 3: The Semantics of 3D Form
We started our final project, studying the form of a shell and a computer mouse. We were asked to accurately create a model of the shell for Thursday’s class using one of 3 mediums—soap, clay, or bristol board. I chose to use clay as my first medium as I thought it would be easiest to get to learn the form without having to use too much abstraction.
I first started out with some sketches of the shell, studying its major and minor axes. I also looked at the proportional relationships of the shell, studying length, width, size of folds, and proportion of head to body.
With some basic knowledge of the structure of the shell, I started to construct a model using modeling clay.
I started out with the cap/head of the shell, containing the spiral feature and spikes. I moved onto the cone shape body, and finally, the wrap that covered the side of the shell.
I had a good amount of trouble trying to get the curves to accurately represent what was going on on the shell.
I also had some proportional issues with my model. It was far too long compared to the actual proportions of the shell. It also felt like the clay was sagging instead of creating the rounded shell shape. I also had trouble with all the details on the cap of the shell. There were many fine dents and textures that I couldn’t recreate.
I found that working on a larger scale really helped with the overall process. I was able to clearly see what I was doing wrong and where I needed to fix it. It also allowed helped me make smaller details with ease. However, it also consumed a lot of clay; the clay was also flimsy, so the larger the structure, the more floppy it became.
Over the weekend, I was able to get soap, and I started working on a paper model of my shell. I started out by tracing the different sides of the shell to get a sense of how I should structure each piece. I used Illustrator and used images I took as overlays.
I then used these images to create templates. However, as I started to work more with the medium, I began to find all sorts of difficulties bending the paper and connecting the different pieces. The final version called for no adhesives, and I couldn’t figure out where to place slits; I ended up taping the pieces together. I coulnd’t emulate the curves correctly with my the paper, so I ended up carving out a shell model from the soap I purchased instead.
I thought that carving would lend itself better to creating an accurate representation of the shell. I decided to start shaving away at the soap by dividing the soap bar into the sections I had identified previously.
The soap bar was bent in a strange way, with the Dove logo carved into each side of the soap. I decided to use the bent shape to my advantage by using the arch as the top of the shell. I then carved out the sides to create the rounded edges of the shell. After, I started with the spiral and the underside. I finally added some details and refined the curves. I originally divided the soap up inaccurately, and so I wasn’t able to get the correct proportions. On top of that, the soap bar was really flat, so I ended up getting a more oblong rather than circular form for the spiral.
I was able to pretty accurately attain the spiral of the shell, but the sizes of the different sections were not completely proportional. I really enjoyed how the fact that you could see all the carve marks in the shell, giving it a unique texture that reflected the material used.
I also decided to refine my clay model from the last class. I started out with the same process, paying more attention to the proportions now that I knew the shell form a little better. I remembered that my old shell was too long, and that some parts that connected to the shell spiral were too round.
There were still proportional issues with this model. First off, the model didn’t have that rounded shell form that I was going for. The clay seemed to sink and dip instead of supporting the curve I intended it to. Second, the proportions of the curves in the spiral were still off, with the biggest one leaning too far back. Finally, the model was still a little bit too long, but it was definitely more accurate than the previous model.
Today I worked on getting a model done for my mouse/artificial object. It was probably one of the most frustrating things I’ve done this semester, with the model breaking every single time I tried to add a new piece to it.
I first started off making some sketches of the mouse, looking at the major and minor axis. I also looked for any important details I would need to include that really made the mouse a distinct object. The way the back was larger than the front, and the way there was a slight indent to the shape where the thumbs would hold the shape were features I wanted to capture. Sadly, I couldn’t especially with the limitations of the material.
The form was very hard to construct because the paper would fall apart so easily. Every time I tried to put pieces together, slits would come apart and I would have to continue to adjust them. The form was very basic with the idea being that I would use semi-circular forms to create the skeleton of the form. I would then use 3 longer strips to connect the skeleton together.
I wasn't able to exact the proportion or the form of the mouse. I was able to show that the object was a mouse, making it recognizable. But, I wasn’t able to create an accurate representation. The material really challenged me and at times I really wanted to throw it down and give up.
For today’s iteration, I decided I would stick with modeling clay to make my mouse. First, I started off with taking some reference photos of my mouse.
I then started to build up mass. I was able to come up with a model that I was actually pretty happy with. There are definitely some things that I still want to refine like the curves and the overall shape. The back of the mouse isn’t entirely correct, and neither is the clicking part. I would also have to adjust some of the contours on the sides. The clay was definitely much easier to work with compared to the paper though.
Today was the last day of Design Lab! It was strange that the semester went by so fast with so many different projects that I learned new things about. Before today’s class, I wanted to finish all 4 models—my clay and paper mouse, and my clay and soap shell. I was able to create 4 models that I was pretty happy with and were pretty accurate to the proportions of the real objects. I want to reshoot some of my photos on a darker background to better present the form of my models.
This project was extremely difficult, but also a ton of fun. I really enjoyed working with the 3D forms, trying to figure out what and how to cut. I enjoyed looking for the most important characteristics of each form that made each form distinctly unique as well as working with the different mediums that better lent themselves to different forms. If I were to go back and do this project again, I would take more time to study each of my forms before I actually started working with the materials. I also would want to slow down with my process given extra time. Overall, I really enjoyed this project, probably my favorite project second to the animation.