Building the Foundation

2This week I started working on the basic pieces for the model.  Right now I’m working on building the core joints that will be used throughout the figure.  I just finished the basic hinge joints that will be used in the hips and shoulders, and possibly main body.  I will be using some variation on them for the ankles and wrists, too.  I took a lot of inspiration from Gundam kits, as well as the joints used in the Kaiyodo Revoltech line.  Much like those examples, I’d like to avoid using too much hardware for this project, like screws or fasteners, so I’m trying to build as much of it as possible to be snap-together like a model kit.


The joints work pretty well in this regard.  I made a test print for the basic joint, and right out of the printer, they snapped together and worked well (aside from the fact that one end of the joint snapped off immediately, but that was from the low fill density I used for this print).  I built in a ratcheting function so they can hold their position better, which also seemed to work nicely.  For the final model I will probably need to do a little cleanup, but as a proof of concept, I’m quite pleased.

1By the end of the month, I’m aiming to have all the joints and a basic skeleton modeled. Moving into April I’d like to start prototyping of physical model of the skeleton to make sure all the joints move as intended.  Last thing I want is to finish it and realize something doesn’t move as intended.


Project Start


Ver. 1 – My first attempt at this character

The Orchid Mantis Project is something I’ve been wanting to tackle for a while, and I decided to finally give it a go.  This whole thing started as a one-off character from my sketchbook a few years ago that has grown into something more.  When I originally designed her, I was still learning a photoshop and digital painting techniques, so it was mostly to gain some practice.

While at San Diego Comic Con that year, I had a portfolio review from some of the professionals there.  They looked over it and gave me some good advice on changes I could make to the character.  After coming back home, I wanted to take another shot at it.


Ver. 2 – Redesigned after some feedback





Version 2 was more satisfying to me, and I learned a lot while working on it.  During my senior year in college, I decided to make this character part of my thesis project.  After a some further sketching, I wanted to do another version to fit the overall project, and push the insect features further.


Ver.3 – Pushing the Mantis features





After the 3rd version, I was satisfied with the direction it was going.  At the same time, I started getting into some 3D printing projects.  One project I really wanted to tackle was making an action figure.  I figured why not make one of this character I’ve been working on?  Once again, I wanted to redesign it, this time to work as an articulated figure.


Ver. 4 – Adding in some physical function





Since it was going to be a figure, I thought it would be cool to try to work in some little features, like making the helmet open, or giving it some small transformative features.  I’m writing this blog as a way to keep myself accountable to this project and keep a log of my progress.  Hopefully it can also serve as a guide to anyone else interested in doing something like this.

I’ve given myself a year to finish this thing.  Here in January, I am working on some new concepts and breakdowns for the figure (officially Version 5).  By March, I want to be modeling in 3D, and start some prototyping by May.  I’m looking forward to where this journey takes me.