What comes to your mind when you think of 3D printers? Technology, sure. Advancement, mmhm. Endless printing hours and failed prints. Exasperation, frustration, infuriation? Most likely. Feeling all warm and fuzzy inside when the print ends up looking good? Aww, yiss… 3D Panther, I hope. What else? Well, I don’t know about you, but when I think of 3D printers I think of art and all the possible 3d printed art projects one can recreate.
The way I see it, a 3D printer, no matter it’s size, looks, price or other characteristics, is primarily an artistic tool. Α 3D printer exists to serve the imagination and materialize one’s creative ideas. Or others’ creative ideas. You know. There are millions of designs out there, and not all of us have the skills or knowledge to come up with something unique and create it from scratch. And, I bet you know that already if you own a 3D printer, the printing process itself can be a huge pain in the ass.
Here I present to you some 3D printed art projects I found online. They range in terms of difficulty, so I have to be honest and admit that some might not be for everyone, but all are seriously cool and worthy of your efforts and time.
3D Printed Art Project No 1: Winged Victory of Samothrace
Starting right off with some art from the ancient world. Winged Victory of Samothrace, or Nike of Samothrace, is a marble Hellenistic sculpture of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, and was created around the 2nd century BC. It’s probably one of the most famous sculptures in the world, along with Venus de Milo, Michelangelo’s David, and many others. According to Wikipedia, it is also one of the few Hellenistic statues that have survived in the original, rather than Roman copies.
I don’t know about you, but I am a huge nerd when it comes to the ancient world and its art. If I could, I would fill my house with replicas of such sculptures. A Venus de Milo in the kitchen? Hell yeah. A Nike of Samothrace at the balcony? Say no more. Of course, I can go out and buy them, at various sizes and prices, but where is the fun in that? And, I mean, come on, this is a post about 3D printed art projects. So, I discovered this guy on Thingiverse who has scanned and 3D printed some of the most celebrated sculptures around the world, included the one discussed here. His work is carefully detailed and beautiful, like the sculptures themselves. Find the instructions to create your own Nike of Samothrace here. It’s not an easy print and it will take hours, but slow and steady wins the race.
3D Printed Art Project No2: Lithophane Projects
Just from a quick Google search, lithophane projects seem to be a very popular 3D printing idea. Lithophane, an artwork made in very thin porcelain, is only visible to the eye when put against a light source. Otherwise, one can only perceive that the specific piece of porcelain has been carved, but without the light shining from behind, they won’t be able to make out the design of the image, at least not the details and the contouring that brings it to life. The lithophane will look different against different light, and the different angles will reveal different contouring each time, making lithophane a truly 3D experience.
This idea is very diverse. You could have a picture of your beloved family or your beloved Leonardo DiCaprio made into a cool lamp this way. What about a breathtaking backlit 3D printed wall piece? Converting your images to lithophane is super easy with tools like ItsLitho, for example. Check out what people what kind of lithophane art people create here.
3D Printed Art Project No3: Origami-inspired animals
When I sit, having nothing to do with my hands, and there is paper around me, I make paper boats. It is something I do without thinking. Kid me, when I started doing this back in elementary school, had no idea that this process was part of the ancient Japanese art of origami.
Origami, which literally means paper folding, is the simple concept of creating various shapes by folding a paper sheet in different, simple and intricate, ways. The most famous example is the paper crane. The simpler ones are paper planes and paper boats.
Origami-inspired art, Photo byДенис Марчук, Pixabay
Here, I present to you origami-inspired 3D printed art projects. Inspired, because the art I am talking about is actually a compilation of triangles that looks like the ones of the paper folds that a finished origami piece has. Check out this beautiful lion one, for example. You can also find an elephant model, a saber tooth tiger, and, last but definitely not least, a panther model. This one is not a roarer, but you’ve got our printers for that 😉.
3D Printed Art Project No4: Hayao Miyazaki Fanart
Have you ever watched any Studio Ghibli film by Hayao Miyazaki? This Japanese animator, filmmaker, screenwriter, author, manga artist and Co-Founder of Studio Ghibli is a legend both in Japan and the rest of the world. The films he has created, including Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away, are beloved by millions around the globe. They are some of the most whimsical, most beautifully animated films out there. Who didn’t fall in love with Howl, the biggest drama queen in animation history, when he had a meltdown over a bad hair day, during which he summoned the spirits of darkness and declared that there is no point in living unless he is beautiful? Who didn’t watch in awe the stunning train scene of Spirited Away? Who didn’t cry over the peaceful and bewitching ode to childhood that My Neighbour Totoro is? If you have no idea what I am talking about, stop everything you are doing (yes, even stop reading this post, honestly) and just go watch one of these films. It will be one of the best gifts you can give yourself.
Totoro, from My Neighbour Totoro, who is also the studio’s logo, is one of the biggest characters in animation history, being in Japan as popular as Mickey Mouse is in America and Europe. Staring at him brings out a sweet sense of nostalgia for the beautiful worlds of Miyazaki’s work. Isn’t that a good reason enough to include him in this list of 3D printed art projects? Thingiverse user PatrickFanart has created some pieces from the movie (four, actually: Totoro with leaf, Medium Totoro, the Catbus and the Totoro family). Needless to say, they are all beautiful. If you are a fan of the film, definitely give this project a shot.
3D Printed Art Project No5: Your Mum
But in all seriousness, this is an actual project I found online and not just some stupid joke to waste your time. Did you know that some of the most celebrated masterpieces of the world were created during periods of isolation and pandemics? You see, people during the Covid-19 lockdown got bored and, when people are bored, amazing things can happen. And this specific Reddit user probably had the most brilliant idea of them all, and spent his time 3D printing their own mum. They used photogrammetry, and the result is downright amazing. Personally, I applaud this kind of creativity and tenacity, and bow down to this sense of humor― the lucky mum seems to have appreciated the work of her child as well, judging by the selfie she took with the 3D printed statue of her. Also, if you are looking for some actual 3D printing ‘’Your Mum’’ jokes, look no further than the comment section of this Reddit post.
PS: Isn’t that the kind of wholesome, heart-warming content we all want to see?
Are you a fan of Miyazaki’s work as well? Would a 3D printed statue of your mum in her robe look good next to your 3D printed Winged Victory of Samothrace? Let me know about all that in the comments down below!
In case you bring any of these 3D printed art projects to life using our printers, don’t forget to show me and my team in 3D Panther your results by tagging us on Instagram and Facebook. Your creativity empowers us!
Featured image by Freepik