In order to add the smallest details of every aspect to the sculpture, it entails complexity and sophistication. In case of 3D sculptures of animals like deer, especially, it requires a lot of skilled sense of visualization and particularization in order to make sure that the animal’s expression is conveyed to the audience. Stimulated by a documentary in 2011, a graphic designer, pop artist and graduate of The Hague University in Amsterdam, Paco Raphael crafted life-sized deer sculptures using 3D printing technology. In order to depict a pop-art like theme, the sculptures were then captured in dynamic and energetic cities such as New York.
Theoretically, the innocence, purity and elegance of deer in more dynamic and active ecosystems were something that Raphael wanted to illustrate. The unique placement of the sculptures in conventionally incongruous environments further emphasized the grace of deer, which led to the popularization and mainstream media coverage of Raphael’s work. In an interview, Raphael stated:
“This animal was so pure, so gentle, so noble. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could put the deer in a dynamic city like New York, expand it and put it in a neon color? This resulted in a series of pop art collages. I have worked it out and made them into five different versions with different deer in different cities.”
Several scanning software and 3D printers were tested by Raphael at the start of his project to choose the most appropriate and effective system for the creation of sculptures. During his process of search for applicable 3D printing technology-based platforms, Paco went to 3D printing events, dropped in on different companies and became a part of several conferences in order to get hold of a partner who could head the production phase of the project.
The ‘i.materialise’ platform was finalized by Raphael to print large-sized figures after assessing a number of platforms, companies and experts. As he told:
“Placed next to each other after receiving all the results, I finally chose i.materialise because the quality was very good, the surface was clean and smooth, and because they can print large sizes.”
In order to find digital sculpting software to design a replica of the deer sculpture, Raphael referred to a 3D designer as soon as i.materialise was carefully chosen. A professional digital sculpting tool created by ‘Pixologic’ called ‘ZBrush’ was utilized by him to design his sculpture and to add details to it.
So, Raphael started developing the deer sculptures via i.materialise after all the designs, structures, measurements and 3D scans were obtained. At first, 30 cm high statues of deer were made by Raphael that were printed in Paintable Resin so that the deer gets a smooth surface. Later on, he painted the statues with neon colors with the aim of keeping up with his theme of pop art.
Once he gained success in printing small-sized deer sculptures, Raphael turned to developing 5o cm high deer sculptures by means of his previous 3D design. He had the design printed again, then used it to create a mold.
Raphael described, “It is beautiful to see how old and new techniques come together. To make the model as beautiful as possible, it was important to show the details and contours of the deer. With a 3D print, this is much more visible than with a clay version. So that’s why I chose 3D printing again.”
The 3D printing technology’s potential was grasped by Raphael during the process. As he continued to pursue his project, he grew a desire to create life-size deer statues with the 3D printing system he established.
Raphael plans to create 4 meters tall 3D-printed deer sculptures in the long run, which are taller when compared to the combined height of two average-sized human beings.